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The BLC2 and Academy IDT focus on real-life challenges faced by informal settlement dwellers

Oct 31, 2017

The BLC2 team has been partnering with a wide range of industry stakeholders to work towards the goal of supporting the incremental upgrading of informal settlements and dwellings. The BLC does this by running a series of challenges that aim to surface design innovations that support the improvement of the living conditions of low-income communities. In August, the BLC2 team partnered with Academy IDT, who run a one-year multi-disciplinary draughtsperson programme in industry standard computer-aided design (CAD) programmes. Students presented their design portfolios at the Academy IDT Open Industry Day on the afternoon of the 25th of October.

The BLC2 team briefed the students on the context of informal settlements and provided them with three real-life briefs:

  1. Suggesting alternatives to the 3m x 3m emergency kit;
  2. Constructing a safe double story dwelling; and
  3. Constructing dry and safe foundations.

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These briefs were influenced through consultation of the needs of NGOs participating in upgrading such as Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) and People’s Environmental Planning (PEP) and with Western Cape Government. The students presented their design responses to the briefs outlined above, which is summarised here.

The 3m x 3m emergency kit

When informal settlement residents are displaced as a result of fires or flooding they are usually provided with the material for a very basic 3mx3m meter shelter (made out of corrugated sheeting) which they can then construct themselves. The Western Cape Department of Human Settlements have expressed an interest in developing enhanced and improved emergency shelters.

The Brief

  • Firstly, model existing 3×3 metre emergency structures as provided to end-users;
  • Secondly, develop improved alternatives;
  • Consider size, time to construct and manufacture, cost, materials, fire proofing, and skills; and
  • Show the step-by-step construction of the proposed alternative structure.

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Student team design response

The student group themed their response as a ‘house in a box’. In the development of the concept, the students followed two processes: 1) interviewed residents and modeled up the existing structures seen on site, and 2) ideated new ideas for emergency housing. The group was further guided by determining decisions around the cost of materials, site and terrain analysis, upcycling materials, and insulation.

In their research, the students also recommended the modular pre-fabricated units already available on the market, such as Kwik Space and CS Modular House Co.

The team consisted of: Reece Crozier, Aviwe Twalo, Sean Clifford, Kyle Osborne, Laurence Van Eyssen, Louw Coetzee, and Nathan Gordon.

For more information, visit the group’s temporary Google micro site.

Constructing a safe double storey dwelling

Various informal settlements have limited space for growth and residents have very limited space to extend their individual dwellings. In various cases, residents are starting to expand vertically (double story). The upgrading NGO CORC has recently expressed an interest and a desire to help and guide their informal settlement resident clients through this process, by providing them with ‘how-to’/ (toolkit) building tutorial information which is cost-effective, safe, and easy to understand.

The Brief

  • Firstly, model existing double-story structures in 3D – documenting and visiting 5 different structures where people have constructed double-story structures themselves;
  • Secondly, after consulting with end-users, propose alternative options;
  • Then, consider and investigate structurally sound, safe, fire proof and cost effective double story building options for informal dwellings; and
  • Show the changes in a step-by-step process.

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Student team design response

Following site visits, the group determined unstable foundations, poor quality materials and improvised building methods to be the major obstacles to overcome in incremental double story dwellings. This group drew inspiration from the tiny house movement. The tiny house movement advocates living simply in small homes and offers architectural and living arrangements guidelines. A residential structure under 46m2 is generally accepted to be a tiny home. The group also drew inspiration from The Table House recently developed by Noero Architects in Cape Town.

The students recommended a basic frame with a stairwell, constructed around the existing structure, utilising common-used materials such as corrugated sheeting, wood, nails, and drywalls.

The team consisted of: Neil Jacobs, Dogann Cloete, Abubakar Albertus, Charl Wilschut, Daniel Kettingham, Jaundre Schutte, Umelusi Mahlangu and Rory Wilschut.

For more information, visit the group’s temporary Google micro site.

Constructing dry and safe foundations

In most instances informal settlement residents construct their dwellings out of necessity, as quickly as possible and typically construct the four walls first, after levelling the ground/floor. Only after the structure is secured, a cement floor is constructed, and often much later – often after first experiencing flooding or dampness. The upgrading NGO CORC has expressed an interest and a desire to help and guide communities, specifically those facing flooding and drainage issues as a result of non-existent or inferior quality floors, through an easy upgrading process by providing them with a ‘how-to’(toolkit) building tutorial information which is cost-effective, safe, and easy to understand.

The Brief

  • Firstly model typical existing flooring/foundation conditions within a shack in 3D;
  • Secondly, after consulting with end-users, propose alternative options;
  • Then, consider and investigate safe, fire proof, water proof, and cost effective in-situ foundation options for informal dwellings; and
  • Show the changes in a step-by-step process.

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Student team design response

The students worked with an area representative and facilitator from Sweet Home Farm in Philippi, who facilitated interaction with community residents. The students also visited a local recycling manufacturing company to learn about available products and materials.

The group proposed a basic frame concept with ‘add-on’ options such as a gutter system and a pump. The group sought to identify commonly shared issues such as individual water access, as well as safety for women and children.

The team consisted of: Ganda Masango, Jaqueline Hetekere, Werner Vorster, Caroline Jacobs, Mustafa Daair, Khaliq Isaacs and Stephan Goosen.

For more information, visit the group’s temporary Google micro site.

The BLC2 team will continue to build relationships with industry stakeholders to host a range of challenges and projects to collaboratively surface design innovations which address the most pressing upgrading needs and obstacles faced by individuals and communities within informal settlements.

Credits: All images of student design responses are used with the permission of Academy IDT, and subject to copyright.