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Abstract

This research and design paper explores possibility of creating cheap and scalable building system based on module framework for sustainable development in the deprived urban and suburban areas in South Africa providing at the same time an architectural quality for improved living standard.

As argued by philosopher Martin Heidegger, one should be able not only to build but to dwell - to fully ‘be’ in the world. Heidegger describes dwelling as harmonious coexistence and interdependence with fourfold: Earth, Sky, Mortals and Divinities [Heidegger, 1971]. However, nowadays, due to humans abusing and manipulating the environment, we lost the ability to meaningfully coexist, the ability to preserve sustainability. Cradle-to-cradle model provides useful concepts for further discussion regarding sustainability and sustainable development – buildings are compared to a tree. They are both organisms heavily interacting with their surroundings. A tree uses and reuses materials from one process to fuel others. A house should be able to do the same.

With growing global population and rapidly changing social structures, including migration from rural areas to mega-cities, there is an increasing need for sustainable and affordable architectural solutions. Mamelodi, deprived suburban area of South Africa’s capital city of Pretoria is one of examples of neighbourhood where lack of proper housing is a dramatic and hard-to-resolve problem. Lack of adequate shelter causes various social problems including severe violence. Therefore architecture has a special, double duty when it comes to improving areas called nowadays slums – provide affordable and decent living conditions and fulfil social needs such as feeling of safety, community and individuality. South Africa has long and important, especially during the apartheid time, tradition of using symbols in the family houses architecture as a way of expressing social and political views. Empowerment of people is believed to be crucial for execution of any meaningful architectural project in this region.

Community cooperation and linked with this classical African concept of Ubuntu is discussed. At the core of Ubuntu lies conviction that we are all interconnected with each other and our surroundings – what makes us who we are is the way we relate to others. Assuming, after Marshall McLuhan, that the whole world is a global village, then we are all responsible for prosperity and well-being of others in our village.

The last part of the project presents evolution of design process and final proposal of modul-based family house build with the use of locally available ma-
terials and hemp plants used in production of hemp concrete.