Better Living Challenge


About Our Finalists: Rotenda Nevhutalo

Sep 25, 2014

Smart brickmaking kit lays foundation for decent low-income housing


Young design talent rolls out a 100% recyclable housing solution to address two of South Africa’s most serious problems: unemployment and housing.


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With 7.3 million people in South Africa still in desperate need of adequate housing and 25.2% of our workforce unemployed, this solution fills a vital need by helping poor communities to make their own bricks and build better shelters at their own pace, explains Rotenda Nevhutalo, the industrial design student behind the ingenious briGado brickmaking kit.

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 1.08.53 PMImage: The briGado brick making kit prototype.


Made from 100% recycled plastic and comprising a brick mould, concrete mixer and brick carrier, briGado is an all-in-one, low-cost building solution that addresses two of South Africa’s biggest challenges: unemployment and housing. As Rotenda puts it: “Not only does this product equip people to make bricks for themselves, but it also gives business-minded people the opportunity to make a great living from brickmaking.”

 Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 11.10.49 AM Image: The panel can be used as a means of a carrier to take bricks from one point to another.

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 11.11.02 AM

Image: The mould is for clay, mud, and concrete bricks, producing 6 bricks per mould fill.


Growing up in Limpopo, Rotenda was exposed to the traditional way of brickmaking that involves using mud. He also witnessed first-hand the difficulty that this technique posed to members of his community – such as having to use their feet to mix mud and not having proper working tools. Rotenda spotted a serious problem and made up his mind to develop a mixing system that would address it.


briGado is the result of Rotenda’s intensive research and prototyping. Not only is it a mould for clay, mud and concrete, but it is also a concrete mixer and brick carrier, both 100% eco-friendly and biodegradable. The side panel of the mould can be used as clay mixing system, replacing the traditional foot mixing method used by rural communities. Each mould is designed to produce six bricks. The panel can also be used as an alternative to a wheelbarrow, making it easier to carry the bricks from one point to another.

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 1.50.56 PM

Image: The design process Rotenda vigorously went through and took inspiration for the end result of the briGado.


According to Rotenda, his design process focused specifically on briGado’s ergonomics, with a particular emphasis on ensuring that users can operate it comfortably. When it came to materials, he selected recycled LDPE plastic for its superior impact strength and because it is less dense and brittle than alternative options. The product will be made through an injection moulding process that is already recognised in the plastics industry as a proven mass production technique.


Rather than costly and complex mechanical servicing, briGado simply needs to be washed with water. This makes it a cost-effective, low-maintenance solution that deserves its place among the 23 Better Living Challenge Showcase finalists. More importantly, it also deserves a place among South Africa’s low-income communities.


For more images on Rotenda Nevhutalo and our other finalists experience in the HecticNine9 studio, click here to visit our Facebook page and view our behind-the-scenes shots.