The Thermotrap Project is an independent venture of entrepreneur Mark Algra in Cape Town, South Africa. Exploring the ground-zero living conditions of South Africans who reside in informal settlements and townships, Algra has developed a number of elementary designs that should at least improve the experience of living in a shack by targeting the problem of insulation specifically.
Shacks are makeshift corrugated iron huts, essentially very basic sheet metal cubes in which people live in close proximity. A shack has very little in the way of temperature control, overheating under the scorching African sun during summer days and plummeting to bitingly cold conditions during winter. Algra answers this problem of uncomfortable living with a few rudimentary yet potent DIY solutions that make up the Thermotrap Project, an initiative which he started in 2013.
Algra’s designs include a simple augmentation of the commonly used corrugated iron sheet. He attaches a layer of durable white fabric to both sides of the metal, deflecting the sun’s rays to some degree while transforming the ridges of the metal into long air cavities for insulation.
Another Thermotrap product is the Thermocrete material, an inexpensive mixture of polystyrene beads and cement which can be poured over corrugated iron for an improved heat buffer. It is a lightweight, fire-resistant kind of plaster which can be smoothed over the metal ceiling of the shack. Algra has also produced a simple air vent to be installed in the center of the structure’s roof, which funnels cool wind into the shack while expelling hot air from the inside continuously.
The Thermotrap Project formed part of the World Design Capital 2014 showcase. Algra's extensive shack-improving designs have moved into a second design phase as of 2018. View the video below for more information.