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)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Freedom Park Project Team

(L-R) Chinedum Emeruem (MMA), Grant Fredericks (AKI), Westley van Wyk (MMA) and Schalk van der Walt (Tech Homes) during our weekly site meetings regarding progress.

The houses being built by Design Indaba at Freedom Park would not be possible without the generous pro bono involvement of the following suppliers:

MMA Architects:
Luyanda Mpahlwa, Westley van Wyk and Chinedum Emeruem

AKI Structural Engineers:
Henry Herring and Grant Fredericks

BTKM Quantity Surveyors:
Brian Mahachi and Earnest Zitha

Mike Edmonds

Materials sponsored by PG Bison/Pennypinchers:
Johan Spies and Etienne du Preez

Interactive Africa Project management & funding of labour component:
Rosemary Lombard & Mike Purdham

The Design Indaba 10x10 Low-Cost Housing Project is grateful for their continued support.

Acknowledgment is also due to Schalk van der Walt, of construction company Tech Homes, who was awarded the contract to manage construction on site, and Ecobeam, the suppliers of the wooden frames and bags we have been using.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Progress at Freedom Park

(Photos: Westley van Wyk)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The history of Freedom Park before 10x10

Freedom Park is one of about 200 informal settlements in the Cape Metropolitan Area which house approximately half a million people in more than 100 000 dwellings. This accounts for 16.1% of Cape Town´s population or 60% of the households living without formal shelter.

The site is situated in the township Mitchell’s Plain on the outskirts of the City of Cape Town. Mitchell’s Plain is a typical example of an area that was created in the 1970s to relocate thousands of families from the inner city to racially segregated areas under the Apartheid Group Areas Act. Today Mitchell´s Plain accommodates more than 300 000 people, but it remains a desolate area with high levels of unemployment, poverty and crime. Download a more detailed overview of the area here.

Freedom Park came into existence on 27th April 1998, when a group of people organised an occupation of the land and built themselves shacks on the property. The move was motivated by the need for housing as the conditions in which people had resided were overcrowded, expensive and unsatisfactory for healthy living.

The City of Cape Town took legal action against the community to have them removed from the property. But as the community organized themselves in a democratic structure and arranged legal support, an agreement between the City of Cape Town and the Freedom Park community was reached to resolve the matter out of court. During the ensuing mediation process, the City of Cape Town was required to install emergency services which consisted of pubic standpipes, communal toilets and weekly refuse removal.

In 2003 the City of Cape Town at last included the Freedom Park community in a broader housing development through which 1800 houses were to be built on 4 sites in the Mitchell´s Plain area. 493 of these houses were to be built at the Freedom Park site to accommodate the 280 families residing in the Freedom Park informal settlement, as well as 213 families from the City´s waiting list.

Freedom Park in 2007

In 2007 Design Indaba 10x10 Low Cost Housing Project signed a Memorandum of Agreement to locate the houses to be designed by our participating architects at Freedom Park, after liaising with the Freedom Park Development Association (the civic organisation formed to look after the interests of residents in the area), together with Development Action Group (an NGO specialising in support and implementation of community-centred development) and the Niall Mellon Township Trust (an Irish-owned property development charity organisation working in the area). We were allocated 10 adjacent plots on which the Design Indaba 10x10 houses would be built.

Plots allocated to the Design Indaba 10x10 Low Cost Housing Project

The houses were to be given free by Design Indaba to ten Freedom Park families. it was important to identify who those families were to be in an equitable way. We explained the experimental nature of the project to the community and invited all residents willing and eligible in terms of the City's waiting list for housing to participate in a lucky draw, audited by KPMG. On a cold, wintry Cape morning in mid-June 2007, ten beneficiary names were drawn by members of our team, the Freedom Park community and partners.

The winners of the houses were:
George Jochems
Rebecca Monyatsi
Hans Jonkers
Elizabeth Krigga
Moerida Pillay
Joseph Willoughby
Gavin Arendse
Mary Lackay
Mushrah Anthony
Vida Poovan

Workshopping was done with the beneficiary families to introduce the project and its objectives, and to ascertain their personal wants and needs in terms of design. Reference videos of each family with these details were sent to the architectural teams as part of the brief. Watch the videos here.

Beneficiaries have been involved hands-on in every stage of the building process. The project has provided local people, mostly women, with employment as well as experience in working with a sustainable building system.

The following are some pictures of people from our beneficiary families outside the homes they were staying in before their involvement in the Design Indaba 10x10 Low Cost Housing project.

The Anthony family

The Arendse family

The Jochems family

The Jonkers family (beneficiaries of the first house)

The Krigga family

The Lackey family

The Monyatsi family

The Pillay family

The Poovan family

The Willoughby family

(Photos: Yasser Booley)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Progress at Freedom Park

(Photos: Rosemary Lombard)