Prizewinning Affordable Housing

October 2, 2008

under construction (left) and completed (right) The contemporary looking building pictured here is not a high-end green building full of high tech features. Rather, it is a prizewinning affordable housing design for South Africa that costs significantly less than a new car. This is a house designed to provide affordable housing for very little cost: 50,000 South African rand (which is about US$ 6,000). And there are a lot of things to like about this design.

Housing for a cost of $6,000 ought to win some kind of prize.

And rightly so, MMA Architects of South Africa won the Curry Stone Design Prize of $100,000 for the 10×10 House, which can be built using local materials and with very few tools and unskilled labor. The structure of the house is stacked sandbags which are supported by timber framing. The design is intended to be a response to the problem of shantytowns, where growing numbers of people are living in unsafe and substandard conditions.

Here is a system that not only provides very low-cost housing, but does so in a way that engages the community and provides them with a sense of investment and participation in the process.

In addition to utilizing inexpensive and locally accessible building materials, which required not even a single electrical outlet to put together, the designers turned to the community to build the houses, the first of which was recently completed, with nine more planned for a community in Cape Town. Mpahlwa said that this approach not only saves on labor costs but gives an added sense of ownership to the occupants and work for those in a community that is riven with unemployment.

The simple construction does not require advanced construction knowledge. Prizewinner Luyanda Mpahlwa said he would probably use the prize money to build a few more 10×10 Houses, and to send a few underprivileged kids to architecture school.

Related articles on Green Building Elements:
Weighing the Value of Concrete Housing
Are Extruded Houses Green?
Shaver Green Building to Offer Sustainable Workforce Housing

via (and with more images of the 10×10 House): Architect’s Newspaper