Expanding Homes in Informal Settlements.

  1. Neil Jacobs
  2. Dogann Cloete
  3. Abubakar Albertus
  4. Charl Wilschut
  5. Daniel Kettingham
  6. Jaundre Schutte
  7. Umelusi Mahlangu
  8. Rory Wilschut

Our Team at Academy IDT set out to solve a problem that exists all around the world. Informal settlements are over populated and have no room to expand. The people residing in these informal settlements have this problem and out of desperation expand there already unstable homes to a second floor and risk collapsing their home.

Model done by Dogann Cloete


Improvised structures

Scrap Materials used in construction

Unstable - No foundation.

Rural and undeveloped area.

Environmental safety problems.


After the site visit the problem was clear and the magnitude of the situation became a reality . The People trying to expand their home for their growing family have limited skills and tools to take on such an project.

The Tiny House Movement.

The tiny house movement (also known as the "small house movement") is a description for the architectural and social movement that advocates living simply in small homes. There is currently no set definition as to what constitutes as a tiny house; however, a residential structure under 46 m2 is generally accepted to be a tiny home.

Tiny House is becoming very popular in our Eco friendly and minimalist society where you live inside this very low footprint house with enough space for your essential needs and necessary comfort. Tiny homes are very sustainable as the purpose behind the design and concept of them!

Designing a double story Tiny house is no easy task and needs to be customized per informal structure because no informal structure is the same.

The problem comes down to:


Manual Labour

Design or Professional help.

Moving their home during construction.

During the construction of the Tiny House The top Half is built first completely separate from the current dwelling to accommodate the user moving their stuff to the to half without removing the current structure and creating logistical problems as to where to store your belongings during the construction. The Short Term plan also allows a break on construction for funding.

With this simple design you could expand an informal settlement by building over it and then expanding it down to form a double story Tiny house. This construction solution and Tiny Homes designs are comparable with all materials.

Materials used

Using materials for the Tiny house is no problem depending on your location but the common materials can be used constructing this concept. From corrugated sheeting, wood and drywall you could even use bamboo or hemp to build your future Tiny House.

Corrugated Sheeting:

Corrugated Sheeting can be used and walls and a roof as a very cost effective Tiny House but with cost cuts comes problems, like insulation during the warm summer and the cold winter.

Corrugated sheeting is easy to get and to work with witch requires minimum skill level to construct.

Materials used:

  • Corrugated sheeting
  • Wood
  • Nails
  • Think pink or insulation alternative.
  • Drywall.

This is a very economic friendly design with a limited life span.

Brick and Concrete:

Using brick and concrete would be very familiar and first thought to the common South African but would be very heavy and a big foundation would be required to carry all the weight. Depending on the site limitations that would determine what type of foundation would be appropriate for the Tiny House

It would be a very comfortable and stable home insulated from the elements and built to withstand the elements.

Materials used:

  • Cement
  • Bricks
  • Reinforced steel

This is not a very economic friendly design but one designed for the purpose of a stable and comfortable Tiny House and requires a good building skill set.

Gum Poles:

Gum poles are widely available around South Africa and a common material used in building cabins or even poles for electrical and telecommunication systems. It's a very strong pole that can be used as beams and columns in the construction of a Tiny House there are designs that consist entirely of gum poles and how it could be used.

It is very common material to get but not so easy to work with and need an above average skill set to do so. Gum poles are a expensive material to use and would provide a stable insulated Tiny House but an fire risk.


Bamboo is a type of grass that takes 4-5 years to reach full maturity and the optimal time to harvest for the use of construction of houses and buildings and even used as scaffolding to construct sky scrapers in China.

Bamboo is a very strong fiber that is used to build furniture, utensils, and buildings. What ever you can use wood for you can use bamboo and do even more. It is very strong, light weight and easy to work with if bamboo is not treated correctly it weathers and thus needs to be maintained in the long term.


Hemp is a very under utilized resource and is often associated with it cousin "Marijuana". Hemp can be used as a stable building material and The Hemp House in Cape Town is a good example of hemp being used in the construction of an entire double story house.

Hemp thrives under extreme conditions and could be grown in most climates, it is a very sustainable underestimated resources and should be used more commonly.

Hempcrete or Hemplime is bio-composite material, a mixture of hemp hurds and lime used as a material for construction and insulation.

Hemp could be used from the foundation, walls to ceiling. Because of the suppressed benefits of hemp it is a developing industry and is thus very expensive.

Expanding your home into a safe and comfortable place of stay.

What started out as a problem of an average family living in a informal settlement looking to expand their home ended up as a much bigger project than we first anticipated. This has become an transformation of the informal settlement to a modern Urban community.

In creating an Urban Tiny Home village or town. The infrastructure needs to be built starting with water, electricity, sanitation and roads then the Education facilities need to be upgraded or build. Medical Facilities would have to be built to treat the sick and injured

To solve the problem that is the informal settlements the government has to work very hard and close with the NGOs and the communities wanting to change their living situation for the better and create a save community.

There is no short term solution when it comes to informal settlements. It is clear that the technology, designs and materials exist to make this a reality, and is the community and evidently the country's duty to aid the people living in the informal settlements to a better living!

Related Projects to spread awareness.

The Empower Shack Project

The Table House

Bamboo in Bali

6 Story House Made entirely from bamboo

The Green School In Bali

Bamboo The 21st Century Steel.

Sustainable resource

Eco Friendly

Generally, smaller bamboo has stronger mechanical properties (such as ultimate compressive strength) for its size. However, larger bamboo can withstand larger forces.

Bamboo Treatment:

  • Heat Treatment
  • Water Treatment
  • Treatment against bugs and insects

Bridge Made entirely from bamboo

The Hemp House : Africa’s Most Sustainable Building


Hemp is increasingly being recognised as an ideal eco-building material, especially in Europe and Britain, where authorities are using hemp in pilot homes in their housing and eco-estates.

Video By Top Billing on Hemp House Cape Town