Better Living Challenge

Eco-System Mapping

Collaboration and co-design


The BLC’s approach is one of collaboration and co-designing with end-users and stakeholders, in order to problem solve. The BLC also strives to show the value of design-led processes in action. As a result, this specific Mapping Project aims to show the value of using design-led/ visual mapping processes, such as stakeholder mapping, value chain mapping, customer journey mapping and persona development, in order to visually communicate complex systems or ideas in a simple and effective manner.


From needs analysis to eco-system mapping


The Needs Analysis Research, conducted during 2016, identified these three main areas for further research and understanding. The research findings formed a base line to conducted further research and highlighted the need to identify opportunity areas and challenges within each system.


Since August 2016, the BLC team has been conducting research, hosting workshops, and testing and improving various initiatives including design/buildsliving labs, hackathons, and so forth in the three key systems:

  1. The upgrading process and journey;
  2. The second-hand building material journey; and
  3. The micro-finance options for upgrading.



Mapping the upgrading process


This project stream documents the different existing upgrading processes of the different end-users who live in the various types of informal dwellings identified,  including backyard timber houses, self-built shacks, newly bought shacks, disaster kit housing, as well as the new incremental development area housing. We have developed persona’s of residents who undertook upgrading to better understand the decisions made and upgrading processes followed by the different end-users in the various types of informal dwellings identified.


Mapping of the second hand building material journey


We are developing a value chain map to better understand the different types of used and virgin materials used to construct informal dwellings. By placing the journeys of households and small scale building contractors at the center, we are gaining insights into the journey of materials through an informal housing value-chain, starting at the home and tracing the journey followed, all the way to its source. We are testing our assumptions in workshops with various industries, including the film and music industry, crushing yards and depots, and building sector waste streams.


Mapping of micro-finance options for the upgrading of informal dwellings


This project stream will map out the different micro-finance options available for upgrading, building on the value-chain and micro-credit research, as well as the following three recommended areas for further exploration. The BLC is currently working with Mrs. Aunnie Patton Power founder of Intelligent Impact, an advisor to the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town, and Associate Fellow at the Saïd School of Business of the University of Oxford (among others) to develop prototypes for innovative value-chain of finance and materials.