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."