DESIGN INDABA 10×10 LOW COST HOUSING PROJECT, INDEX: AWARD 2009 FINALIST.
The house was created by MMA Architects as a part of the Design Indaba 10×10 Low Cost Housing Project. In 2007 Design Indaba commissioned ten local and international architects to design low-cost houses for ten low-income families in the Freedom Park community in Cape Town, South Africa. In response to this challenge, MMA created the sandbag houses.
The houses are constructed of timber frames that are filled with sandbags, covered with chicken wire, and plastered over. The structural system is produced locally, is suited for mass production and provides job opportunities and skills development for the community. The Design Indaba initiative was part of the development of 490 residential units for the community that resides in Freedom Park.
“These people lived in informal shacks without any decent facilities. Each architect was assigned a family; MMA Architects was allocated the Jonker family of eight people,” said the team behind the design.
“In this project, the main considerations were to reducing time and cost of the building process, and to allow community involvement.”
After researching design options, MMA identified sandbag construction as the best way to fulfil the objectives of sustainable design. Sandbags provide excellent thermal stability and their use in construction taps into indigenous building techniques that are well adjusted to the hot climate of South Africa.
“Our approach was to maximise the garden area by reducing the building footprint. A two-storey unit was therefore proposed as the most efficient option. Living areas are situated on the ground floor, and sleeping areas upstairs. The house is positioned towards the street to create ‘urban presence’, and to allow for growth toward the back garden; this allows for the possibility of individual developments such as a play-space for the children within the safety of the private garden.”
MMA sought solutions that address the challenges facing the low-cost-housing sector in South Africa by exploring possibilities for sustainable and appropriate design solutions.
Luyanda Mpahlwa (MMA creative director), Cape Town, South Africa.