History and background


The Institute of Building Research (IBR) at Ardhi University stands as a beacon of excellence and innovation in the realm of construction and building research in Tanzania. Formerly recognized as the National Housing Building Research Agency (NHBRA), IBR has forged a profound legacy of pioneering contributions to the development, sustainability, and advancement of the construction industry in the region. Our commitment to addressing critical challenges, fostering sustainable practices, and promoting knowledge dissemination has made us a cornerstone of the construction landscape.


The mission of the IBR of Ardhi University is to provide innovative and research-based solutions on appropriate and cost-effective building construction technologies for housing in Tanzania


The vision of the IBR of Ardhi University is to become the center of excellence in research and outreach services for appropriate building construction technologies and affordable housing in Tanzania.


The National Housing and Building Research Unit (NHBRU) that was established through Cabinet Paper No. 7 of 1970 under the Housing Division in the former Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (Now Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development). Its main objective was to provide technical support to housing construction to upgrade housing conditions and building standards, increase the use of local materials, and improve the population's quality. On 31st August 2001 the government reformed the NHBRU to become the National Housing and Building Research Agency (NHBRA) as a semi-autonomous Government Executive Agency, under the Executive Agencies Act. No. 30 of 1997. NHBRA was a more autonomous organ in order to deliver its mandatory services more efficiently and effectively. The Agency’s main objective was to research the housing construction technologies aimed at reducing housing construction costs. The National Housing and Building Research Agency (NHBRA) was disestablished in May 2020 and all operations were moved to Ardhi University. This led to the establishment of the Institute of Building Research (IBR) within the University. The functions of NHBRA are incorporated within IBR.


At IBR, our research and outreach efforts are channeled into six key focus areas:

  1. Building Materials Research: Pioneering the development of sustainable and locally sourced building materials, we strive to reduce construction costs and minimize environmental impact. Our research drives the adoption of eco-friendly materials without compromising structural integrity.
  2. Construction Technology Advancements: We are at the forefront of innovation, exploring cutting-edge construction techniques such as modular construction and 3D printing. These innovations enhance efficiency, affordability, and quality in the building process.
  3. Sustainable Building Practices: Committed to environmental stewardship, IBR leads efforts to promote energy-efficient building designs, waste reduction, and renewable energy integration. Our projects encompass eco-friendly architecture and sustainable urban planning.
  4. Housing and Urban Development Research: Our institute is dedicated to addressing critical issues in housing and urban development. We provide insights into urban planning, affordable housing solutions, and infrastructure development, fostering sustainable, inclusive communities.
  5. Capacity Building for the Construction Industry: IBR offers specialized training programs and workshops for industry professionals, entrepreneurs, and students. Our capacity-building initiatives enhance skills, knowledge, and employability in the construction sector.
  6. Collaboration with Industry and Government Agencies: To ensure the relevance of our research, IBR collaborates closely with industry stakeholders, government agencies, and international partners. These collaborations foster knowledge exchange, innovation, and the implementation of research findings in practice.


Our institute is deeply rooted in community engagement. We collaborate with local municipalities and government agencies to address pressing housing and urban development challenges.


  • Coordinate  construction-related        research      efforts among stakeholders within and outside the country;
  • To ensure research results and technical information on construction and housing-related matters are available to the public;
  • To promote affordable housing and durable local construction materials and associated technologies;
  • To facilitate training       on      innovative   construction materials and associated technologies to stakeholders; and,
  • To provide construction and housing-related consultancy services


  • Laboratory tests on building materials;
  • Sensitization and practical training seminars;
  • Socio-economic surveys;
  • Building design and cost estimates;
  • Construction and supervision of buildings.



  • Town Planners
  • Architects
  • Engineers (Electrical, Civil, Mechanical, Environmental, Municipal and Industrial Services Engineers)
  • Economist
  • Quantity Surveyors


  • Lathe Machine
  • Welding Machines
  • Bench Grinder Machine
  • Disc Sander Machine
  • Jointer Planner Machine
  • Surface Thicknesses Machine
  • Cross Cutter Machine
  • Band Saw Machine
  • Universal Tensile Test Machine
  • Compressive Test Machine
  • Electric Kiln
  • Concrete and Tile Cross Cutter
  • Electrical Table Vibrator
  • Electrical Mixer (Soil-Cement Mixing)


  • Interlocking Bricks
  • Sisal Reinforced Roofing Tiles;
  • Soil Cement Interlocking Bricks;
  • Burnt Interlocking Bricks; And,
  • Waffle Slabs.

In addition, IBR has appropriate technology for the following:

  • Interlocking Brick Press Machines;
  • Soil Cement Interlocking Bricks;
  • Burnt Interlocking Bricks;
  • Tile Vibrators;
  • Tile Moulids;
  • Sisal Fiber Reinforced Concrete Tiles; And,
  • Waffle Slabs.


Building Materials

Locally produced building materials are confirmed as one of the strategies for housing cost reduction.

Research Areas

  • Innovation in building materials;
  • Locally available/made building materials suitable for regional conditions in Tanzania;
  • Building materials recycling and re-use; and,
  • Adaptation of developed materials and technologies.

Cost-Effective Construction Technology and Techniques

Explore the use of resources economically and sustainably (building materials & technical know-how).

Research areas

  • Capacity building, improvement, and use of local labor;
  • Capacity status, improvement, and use of local housing construction knowledge and skill & technology;
  • Local knowledge in processing building materials;
  • Appropriate and affordable technology for building materials production;

Low-Cost Housing (Appropriate Design & Construction)

Low-cost housing focuses on housing that is affordable to generally economically low-income households. Nevertheless, it should offer all basic facilities, services, and acceptable living conditions. One of the critical factors is cutting down housing delivery costs through alternative construction methods, processing methods for building materials, use of local and indigenous building materials, use of local skills, and, sustainable and environmentally friendly options.

  • Water reuse technologies;
  • Storm-water management;
  • Neighborhood infrastructure provision.

Modes of Affordable Housing Delivery

Practical models and mechanisms that support delivery and access to low-cost housing.

Research areas:

  • Securities and access to housing mortgage facilities for low-income households;
  • Mortgage schemes and institutions for low-income households

Informal Processes of House Production

House acquisition in urban and rural areas alike are mostly through informal processes which are not of a standard code in terms of technical requirements, but the processes between the housing developer and the artisans as well i.e. housing production is largely by the informal sector and non-formal procedures/processes. Additionally, most housing projects for individuals (if focusing on low-income households) occur in informally settled areas.

Research areas

Work studies and work processes for the production of building materials and house construction;

  • Self-help house construction schemes;
  • Incremental house construction;
  • Community-based housing construction.

Cross-Cutting Matters

These are sustainability, environment, gender, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Research areas:

  • Gender-specific requirements in housing provision;
  • Gender equity in housing provision;
  • Occupational health and safety in housing provision;
  • Appropriate environmental safeguard guidelines, specifically in material processing and production;
  • Applicable labor standards;
  • Resettlement;
  • Projects in disputed areas.

ICT-Based Tools

Access to reliable spatial data is essential for research, analysis, and policy development on housing and urban development.

Research areas:

  • Information requirements in the housing (e.g. housing surveys, mapping local building materials, documenting available building construction skills, both formal and informal, existing local construction practices, assessing and documenting the levels and types of exposure to affordable housing due to climate change);
  • Spatial housing database;
  • Use of housing database for policy decision purposes.

Climate Change and Housing Provision

There is evidence of increasing climate change effects in cities, including urban floods and urban heat islands. Buildings and housing structures are among the urban systems adversely affected by floods while occupants in many areas suffer from heat stress.

Research areas:

  • Affordable house designs for flood resilience;
  • Affordable house design for heat stress adaptation.