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Reimagining informal settlements through South African traditional building techniques

Traditional building techniques with community. Mashaba, IT_Unit 17_2020.

Ishmael Mashaba



Gregory Katz, Nico van Loggerenberg




Many dwellings in informal settlements in South Africa are built from materials that are not suitable for local weather conditions. South Africa has a high rate of unemployment, and we are surrounded by traditional building techniques that are increasingly forgotten. My project aims to upgrade existing informal settlements and to create work by teaching people how to build with upgraded traditional building techniques.

In rural areas like Marite Trust in Mpumalanga, building with these techniques has been established for many years because:
● it uses locally available materials that are affordable and carbon neutral;
● one does not need large vehicles to bring the materials to site;
● tt uses construction methods that are low-tech and easily accessible;
● it is a cheaper building process that eliminates the ‘middleman’ between developers and the people;
● it consists of a community building system as Ubuntu to uplift a neighbour’s well-being within the community; and
● it has a long sustainable history that has been passed down from generation to generation.

This project aims to introduce traditional building techniques in urban contexts where people need to learn how to build with these methods.