10x10 Low Cost Housing Project

Design Indaba 10x10 Low-Cost Housing offers affordable, attractive and innovative responses to the urgent need to house the urban poor.

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The Design Indaba 10x10 Low-Cost Housing Project aims to stimulate alternative solutions to housing. Ten architectural teams, composed of handpicked South Africans paired with international alumni of previous conferences, were challenged with this pro bono project. The objective was to come up with affordable, attractive and innovative responses to the urgent need to house the urban poor. Sustainable design, construction and operation principles were encouraged.

The first qualifying solution came from Luyanda Mpahlwa of MMA Architects. MMA’s design for a single-family home leveraged the extremely tight budget by borrowing elements from indigenous mud-and-wattle building techniques. In September 2008, MMA’s design won the Curry Stone Design Prize, an international award that recognises creative solutions with the power and potential to improve our lives and the world in which we live.

Design Indaba constructed ten such houses in Freedom Park, a township in greater Cape Town, with materials sponsored by PG Bison/Pennypinchers. The project’s experiences and outputs will be presented to the South African Minister of Housing. This information will also be available online in an open-source manual, contributing to the global knowledge commons regarding the design and construction of low-cost housing.

Design Indaba has remained committed over the past 14 years to a vision that rests on the premise that creativity will fuel an economic revolution in South Africa. We are a celebration of design in a country iconic of the triumph of human spirit, proof that even the most intractable problems can be neutralised by the will of people. Design Indaba typifies this optimism and can-do spirit. Starting from the basis of how design can help solve the problems of an emerging country, we take the view that a better future can be designed.

Besides the flagship conference and expo, Design Indaba has expanded into a multi-tiered experience that incorporates other events, media, education, training and business development.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Design Indaba, spin-off projects were launched to encapsulate the best of design in a unique project setting. Known collectively as Design Indaba 10 x 10s, these projects further promote the design industries in South Africa by bringing together Design Indaba alumni to create a brand image from which others can benefit.

A Design Indaba Community Project

Low-cost housing is an issue of huge social relevance in South Africa, and indeed globally. Statistically it is significant that, for the first time in history, over 50% of the world's population now reside in urban areas. The impact of this is particularly visible in South Africa's townships and the urban sprawl of informal settlements around cities.

A number of national housing initiatives have been given a high profile by South Africa's Minister of Housing, Lindiwe Sisulu. The Minister has also communicated the government's encouragement to developers, financial institutions and the construction industry to deliver on the visions and goals of the National Housing Policy.

The 10 x 10 Housing Project challenged 10 architectural teams to provide dynamic design solutions for the low cost housing sector (on a completely pro-bono basis), with the intention of creating 10 distinct designs that would change the perception that low-cost housing is outside the realms of design innovation and architectural significance.

We paired ten hand-picked local architects with ten international alumni from previous Design Indaba conferences. The objective was to come up with affordable, innovative responses to the very pressing issue of low-income urban housing. Sustainable, energy-efficient design, construction and operation principles were to be incorporated. Experiences and outputs were to be compiled and ultimately presented to the Minister of Housing as an open source manual, a contribution to the public pool of knowledge available to all interested in the design or construction of low-cost housing.

In this way, the 10 x 10 Housing Project's aim is truly to "create a better future, by design". Not only will some of Cape Town's most impoverished families benefit directly, but the project seeks to stimulate a wider debate and creative thought around the delivery of low-income housing.

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