Filmed by Timothy Gabb & Luke Younge
Edited by Timothy Gabb
The design brief was to pilot a “human-hearted” response to unsafe temporary structures, and to re-interpret them as safer, more dignified place of living, while the pressures of formal housing are being addressed by government. This as a temporary solution only.
Since the birth of our democracy nineteen years ago we have been waiting for formal housing, and the situation is getting worse each day. Something simple, achievable and practice simply has to be done at scale, now.
Within this context, the structure we re-built is a crèche, home to 40 children between the ages of 3 and 7, in Langa, Cape Town. The crèche was re-built on Mandela Day to celebrate his gift of light and life.
The crèche was a dilapidated timber structure, fire-prone (vulnerable to shack fires), it flooded during winter and was un-insulated (corrugated iron – very cold in winter and very hot in summer). We also added a vertical food garden onto the sun-facing wall of it. The vegetables produced onside will contribute to the two meals being fed to the children each day.
The structure talks to nutrition as well, not just the issues of safety and more dignified living.
Food security and temporary housing therefore become the same thing, and herald a new food-security design approach within the context of vulnerable communities. Current thinking presumes informal settlements and slum areas to be essentially “full”. Indeed they are, but the sun-facing walls are all empty.
Each structure “owns” it’s sun-facing wall.
If you do the maths on the total m2 area available for urban-farming in informal settlement areas it starts to get really exiting…the process of re-purposing and re-defining space and space-use around the needs of the poorest within our city. Not only because it’s a local response to local problems, but because it’s a local response to a global problems – these being food security, flooding and run-away shack/slum fires.
The result is a simple, cost-efficient, low-tech, flood-proof, fire-proof, warm, dry, food-producing haven.
However, it’s still very much still a temporary solution. While government struggles to meet the pressures of formal housing, bound by political forces beyond the control of the voiceless and the disenfranchised, human-hearted design can at least partner with relevant NGO’s and assist those most vulnerable left stranded “in-between”.
The project was made possible with the support of the Handspring Puppet Company, Pick ‘n Pay, The City of Cape Town, Green Cube Nursery, Timothy Gabb Productions and the Eranda Foundation. We would also like to note and thank our NGO partners CORC and ISN, leading the work of “blocking” and “re-blocking” around the country