Friday, July 10, 2009

6 families in, 4 to come...

The Pillay family - proud new owners of a home!

Everyone on the balcony of the Pillay's new house and yes, they have a sea view! From the balcony you can actually see Muizenberg's cove, all along to Fishhoek it seems...

A warm winter afternoon on site in Freedom Park

Mike and the architect are here to sign 2 more families into their homes - handing over keys etc.

Stunning colours. Vibrant and optimistic - just like this project initiative!

Finishing touches on the paint work. The yellow wall of joy... The red door of opportunity...

The row of 10 colourful houses are not only filling a big empty space in the Freedom Park neighbourhood, but also in the lives of the beneficiaries. All the families will have moved into their new homes by next week!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Progress at Freedom Park

The final houses at Freedom Park will be ready for handover early next week! Very exciting...
Here's a view of the rear elevations of our street of houses:

Balconies, which had to be dropped from the original design due to cost considerations, have been donated by MMA architects - these really add great value!

Beneficiaries Mary Lackey (L) and Moerida Pillay watch as finishing touches are put on their new homes, which they helped to build with their own hands.

(Photos: Rosemary Lombard)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Insert aired on Cape Town TV - 18 May 2009

The 10x10 housing project from Design Indaba on Vimeo.

The award-winning Design Indaba 10x10 Low-Cost Housing Project has gifted 10 homes to families in Freedom Park, a township near Cape Town, with the aim of exploring innovative low-cost housing solutions. Of the 10 architectural teams handpicked from South Africa and international alumni of previous Design Indaba conferences, the solution by Luyanda Mpahlwa of MMA Architects was implemented first in this pro bono challenge. The houses are constructed out of sandbags using the eco-beam timber frame system, utilising sustainable design, construction and operation principles in answer to the need for affordable and innovative housing for the urban poor.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

10x10 Housing selected to participate in International Biennale Rotterdam 2009 - Squat City

We were invited to enter the 2009 Rotterdam Architecture Biennale's Squat City competition, and we have now been selected to participate! The following are the competition's criteria as outlined in the call for contribution:
The projects submitted for the Squat City Competition should contribute the agenda of the 'Open City' by proposing inventive design strategies and techniques pertaining to informal urban development.

The call goes out to projects from the fields of architecture and urban design that are based on or that support bottom-up practices and that encourage the self-empowerment of local actors, and that help formalize and legalize such developments.

They qualify by being:
- economically sustainable, e.g. by creating jobs and supporting
social business.
- ecologically and energetically sustainable, e.g. by reducing
waste. or energy and material consumption.
- socially sustainable, e.g. by creating education facilities and
enabling communities to become self-reliant.
All these criteria are congruent with the aims of the Design Indaba 10x10 Low Cost Housing Project, so Squat City is an exciting opportunity to interact with other like-minded initiatives. Watch this space for notification of our online mini-documentary that will be going up at

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

10x10 House featured on's Best of Green: Design + Architecture list

Luyanda Mpahlwa's 10x10 design is featured as Best Third-World Design on's annual Best of Green: Design + Architecture list. Check us out here.

The Design Indaba 10x10 Low Cost Housing project featured a year ago on Treehugger, too. You'll find the first post here.

Photo: Rosemary Lombard

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Design Indaba 10x10 Housing included in Green Design book

The Design Indaba 10x10 Low Cost Housing Project is included in Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs' new book, Green Design! Buy a copy online at Dezeenbooks.

Here's the blurb from the publishers, Carlton Books:
From vast architectural projects to modest one-off pieces of salvaged furniture, "Green Design" shows how the design world is responding to the environmental challenges of the twenty-first century. Emerging trends in green design are covered, such as recycling and ethical sourcing. Also considered is the parallel issue of social sustainability, where the welfare of factory workers is given equal importance to environmental issues, and the idea of Cradle to Cradle enterprises, where a product can be reused over several product histories or unending 'loops'. By showcasing existing green innovations as well as visionary projects that will be built in the coming years, including the world's first zero-carbon city, "Green Design" paints a future where technology and ethics merge.

About the Author

Lecturer, entrepreneur, curator and award-winning journalist Marcus Fairs, formerly founding editor of icon magazine, is editor of online design magazine Dezeen. He has appeared on BBC TV, notably in his documentary about Philippe Starck (2003) and Home (2006). In autumn 2007 Marcus devised and curated the Trash Luxe exhibition of recycled design at Liberty's London. He lives in London, England.

Dezeen are giving away ten copies of Green Design. To stand a chance to win one, go HERE. The competition closes on 8 April 2009.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

10x10 in Design Museum Exhibition

The Brit Insurance Designs of the Year (BIDOY) exhibition is currently on at London's Design Museum. It features the 10x10 Low-Cost Housing project among an array of other shortlisted designs in a range of categories. Here's more about the exhibition from the catalogue, which I received in the mail today:

"The Design Museum and its sponsors are very pleased to present Brit Insurance Designs of the Year, an international exhibition and award that is now in its second year. The exhibition sets out to give an overview of the significant achievements in design and architecture over the last twelve months, where our audience will have the opportunity to experience these feats hands on as well as through this catalogue.

Last year, the winning projects were a testament to the inspiring diversity that design as a whole represents and the shortlist this year is no less impressive... Across the categories, there is this year a sense of climates in flux, be it cultural, political, economic or environmental, where the design output expresses this through both subtle and more explicit processes and applications. But despite the current financial down turn that is all too real, the design stories in this exhibition and award demonstrate that there is still a great sense of optimism as well as the power of using design processes as a tool to drive ideas forward - whether they are for commercial or more experimental purposes."

Here's 10x10 Housing's page in the exhibition catalogue (please click on the image to see a larger version):

If you're in London, be sure to get to the Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD before 14 June 2009 to catch this fascinatingly diverse exhibition.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Progress at Freedom Park

Here's a snap I took today of the Jonkers kids with their friends in the backyard of their Design Indaba 10x10 house, designed purposefully to give them a safe space to play. They no longer have to hang out in the street! This is an example of how adding the element of design, generally missing from the context of social housing, makes a tangible difference in people's lives.

Today the game they were all playing was that they were in a band - you can see the "drumsticks" held by the little guy in the white vest. He had an empty plastic paint can clamped between his knees, and was beating out a skillful rhythm while others clapped and sang. Of course, as soon as my camera came out, they dropped what they were doing to strike a pose - then crowded round me to see themselves! I told them that people on the other side of the world would also be able to see them in this picture, but I'm not sure if they really knew what I meant, having never had access to the internet.

The house on the left that has been lagging behind due to non-delivery of materials from the supplier of the Ecobeams frames is slowly catching up with the others:

The row of single and semi-detached houses is starting to look like a real street!

More bags have been packed to build the columns for the pergolas:

Wonderful, vibrant colours - paint sponsored by Plascon:

Schalk van der Walt of Tech Homes and Chinedum Emeruem of MMA Architects discuss a detail on the plan:

(Photos: Rosemary Lombard)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Jonkers family in their new home

Hans and Olga Jonkers with four of their six children at home in their Design Indaba 10x10 house.
(Photo: Rosemary Lombard)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Guests of Design Indaba visit Freedom Park, 28 February 2009

On the Saturday following this year's Design Indaba conference, we took interested speakers and other guests out to Freedom Park to have a look at how our 10x10 Housing Project was progressing. Some went out to site a year ago, when the frames for the first house were being packed with sandbags, and it was wonderful to be able to show them how the finished product looks. Many of the visitors took photographs, and some have promised to send them on to us, so watch this space for photos of 10x10 by some of the world's top designers!

Walkabout on site.

Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo and architect Luyanda Mpahlwa address the visitors.

Caroline Prisse photographing the Design Indaba 10x10 houses.

Kids pose for photos.

Nobumichi Tosa meets Olga Jonkers and her kids in their home.
(Photos: Rosemary Lombard)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Design Indaba 10x10 Housing design wins another award!

At the 2009 South African Elle Decoration Design Award ceremony on Sunday evening, Luyanda Mpahlwa's design for a low-cost, environmentally sustainable home - commissioned by the Design Indaba 10x10 Low Cost Housing Project - won the Architecture category of the competition.

This is the latest in a string of accolades that the design has garnered. Last year in September, Luyanda's firm, MMA Architects, was honoured with the international Curry Stone Design Prize, which recognises the potential of this housing design to improve access to dignified living spaces for the less affluent.

The Design Indaba 10x10 Low Cost Housing Project was also shortlisted for the Brit Insurance Designs of the Year award, and is currently being exhibited at the Design Museum in London:

Design Museum exhibit (Photo: Luke Hayes)

A comment from the exhibition website:
"This is an outstandingly appropriate piece of design. It is changing lives not just in providing shelter, but building community and family pride for people who have had a rough time of it to date. Would that more designs were as thoughtful and well-executed. "

Comment made on March 3rd, 2009 at 9:59 am by lynda relph-knight.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A reaction to Luyanda Mpahlwa's presentation at Design Indaba 2009

The following comment and sketch are reproduced here by kind permission of their author, Masha du Toit, and were originally published on her blog.

What I enjoy about The Design Indaba above all is its buzz, all that positive energy. Mostly this is caused simply by people speaking on subjects they are passionate about. And sometimes you hear about projects which really make a positive difference in the world. Architect Luyanda Mpahlwa spoke to us about his participation in the Design Indaba 10 x 10 low cost housing project. This is an attempt to alleviate our housing crisis by encouraging innovation in constructing low cost housing.


In 2008, Design Indaba invited architects to design ten low cost houses on ten sites in partnership with ten international architects, for ten families.

Luyanda Mpahlwa's firm, MMA architects, were asked to create a house for the Jonkers family in Freedom Park, Mitchell's Plain. Luyanda showed us some images of squatter camps in Caracas, Venezuela, which are shocking even by South African standards:



He reminded us of the fundamental problem facing us: that our cities must accommodate more people than they were designed for. And by "accommodate", Luyanda means more than people simply fitting in or surviving. Children need spaces to play in. People need gardens and
privacy. In designing this house, Luyanda Mpahlwa was striving to create more than a unit for living in. He was creating a dignified house.

To achieve this, Luyanda's team used an old method of building that has been in use all over the world - that of using sand bags in a timber frame. Sand is packed into bags, which are in turn stacked inside a timber frame. The frame is covered with wire mesh, and then plastered over. This technique has a number of advantages. It does not require skilled labour, and unemployed women from the surrounding community could help build the house. Sand is plentiful and easy to gather. The resulting structure is solid and well insulated against heat and cold.

Luyanda and his team succeeded not only in designing and building this house, but in having all their techniques officially approved by the relevant authorities. The house was slightly over budget, having cost R74 230 to build so far, funded by Design Indaba.

Here is an image of the first completed house:


What I appreciated was the architect's consideration for the needs of the house's occupants. A double story house like this meant that there was space for a private area for the children to play in, for a garden.

Luyanda Mpahlwa won the Curry Stone Design Prize for this project. This is an initiative of the University of Kentucky College of Design, to recognise design that improves the lives of people and the state of the world. In an ironic twist, Luyanda could not attend the prize giving ceremony as he was refused a visa to enter America. Why? Because he had spent 5 years on Robben Island under our previous regime.

Like many other speakers at the Indaba, Luyanda Mpahlwa reminded us of the potential and power of working collaboratively.

"Assemble good people," was his advice, as well as:
"If you believe, give it time, passion and curiosity."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

500 trees for Freedom Park

As part of the carbon offset for Design Indaba 2007, we purchased 500 trees for the whole community of Freedom Park from Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA). The trees are to be planted there over the next few days!

FTFA is an NGO that promotes greening and food security, espousing the view that “a house is not a home without a tree”, and aims to improve the quality of life of the poor by providing plant material, environmental awareness and education for those living in low-cost housing developments. Growing trees and other plants in the townships brightens the environment, prevents soil erosion, and provides wind breaks, as well as food, income and activities for many unemployed people. FTFA spreads awareness about the importance of greening, and trains volunteers to become community-based educators on greening the environment themselves. They share their knowledge with neighbours, and soon the entire community is involved in the business of gardening.

FTFA programme manager, Joanne Rolt, and community forester, Lucky Xaba, have been responsible for organising roll-out. Lucky has been holding workshops with 12 members of the Freedom Park community, training them in planting and caring for trees - knowledge that they in turn will pass on to their neighbours. The trees will be delivered from Tulbagh Nursery tomorrow, and planting will happen this weekend. We're very excited that the barren, sandy landscape is about to be transformed!

The following indigenous species, all suitable for the climate and soil conditions in the area, and notable for their hardiness and capacity to provide shade, will be planted at Freedom Park:

60 x Ilex mitis (African Holly/Without)

60 x Harpephyllum caffrum (Wild Plum)

15 x Podacarpus falcatus (Outeniqua Yellowwood)

60 x Sideroxylon inerme (White Milkwood)

60 x Ficus natalensis (Natal Fig)

20 x Rapanea melanphloeos (Cape Beech/Boekenhout)

80 x Trichilia dregeana (Cape Mahogany/Rooi Essenhout)

50 x Rhus pendulina/Searsia pendulina (White Karee)

60 x Combretum erythrophyllum (River Bushwillow)

15 x Ekebergia capensis (Cape Ash)

Progress at Freedom Park

A view down the street today. Roofs are being put on the houses as well as the first primer coat of paint... Exciting stuff!

The house that is furthest from completion, due to frustrating issues with the supply of the necessary Ecobeams, is now almost at roof height.

Builder Schalk van der Walt of Tech Homes discusses progress with the team.

During our weekly project team meetings on site with (L-R) quantity surveyor Brian Mahachi (BTKM), structural engineer Grant Fredericks (AKI) and MMA's site supervisor, Westley van Wyk, we evaluate how construction is going and iron out any issues that may arise.

(Photos: Rosemary Lombard)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Progress at Freedom Park

(Photos: MMA Architects)