Gallery: 6 Great Green Designs that Put South Africa on the Map

South Africa is home to some of the world's most talented designers, and we have collected six amazing buildings to prove it. From the inspiring New Jerusalem Orphanage constructed from shipping containers to the rain-capturing Karoo Wilderness Center and the country's very first Hemp House, each project features progressive passive design techniques, sophisticated material selection and a distinct South African identity to pique global interest and make locals proud.

1. Visserhoek School

Tsai Design first become known to the international design world during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but they haven’t stopped producing environmentally and socially-responsible design. Visserhoek School located in a township a ways outside of Cape Town was carefully constructed out of recycled shipping containers to ensure that children from poorer homes have access to a healthy learning environment. Painted in bright, bold colors, this thoughtful design is one of those that literally changes lives.

2. Hemp House

Although hemp is still considered a narcotic in South Africa, Tony Budden and his partner Duncan Parker were so convinced of the redeeming qualities of this versatile and renewable fiber, they persevered with the construction of the country’s first hemp house. Wildly popular with local and international design enthusiasts, this gorgeous home just outside of Cape Town is also topped with a verdant green roof.

3. Karoo Wilderness Center

One of the most diverse places on earth, the Karoo desert in South Africa is simply magical and the Karoo Wilderness Center was designed to show visitors exactly what makes it so. But water doesn’t come easily to this region, so Field Architecture not only integrated this spectacular design within the fragile landscape, but they also created a rainwater capturing system that ensures the center remains self-sustaining.

4. House in the Tree Tops

This modern home in Cape Town sits among the tree tops. Designed by Van Der Merwe Miszewski Architects, the eco-luxe home is wrapped in glass under a canopy of towering pine trees, creating the sensation of a rather luxurious tree house. With views of Table Mountain, this sophisticated design definitely showcases South Africa’s diverse, and often nature-centric, design talent.

5. New Jerusalem Orphanage

This beautiful orphanage was started by two sisters who were concerned with the growing number of South African children who have no home. Designed by 4D and A Architects, the sanctuary for 80 orphans was built out of affordable shipping containers and features a host of brightly colored rooms filled with light and inspiring mosaic detailing.

6. House Abo

Last, but certainly not least, House Abo is another contemporary design that reveals an intimate knowledge of the most up to date passive solar design techniques. Designed by Nico van der Meulen Architects, the energy efficient house wrapped in glass features a series of pools and water features that create not only a wonderful place of leisure, but also a comfortable microclimate to counter the country’s steamy summers. There are many other South African designers who are worth mentioning in this post, but suffice to say, they’ve got game, and they are eco-sensitive to boot!


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