Lucy Wang

Architecture for a Change's Mamelodi Pod is a Self-Sustaining Solution to Shantytowns

by , 08/26/13

Mamelodi, Mamelodi Pod, shantytown architecture, informal architecture, Architecture for A Change, AFAC, self-sustainable architecture, off the grid, off the grid architecture, solar panels, water tank

A rapidly increasing portion of South Africa’s population lives in shantytowns that lack access to water, electricity and basic plumbing. Mamelodi is one of the oldest townships in Pretoria that was set up by a then-apartheid government and is home to an enormous informal settlement. Its growing squatter camp is a sprawling sea of ramshackle dwellings that face a slew of health and environmental issues.

To address these problems, AFAC designed a superior and self-sustainable housing unit with an aesthetic to fit Mamelodi’s informal context. With the thermal performance of formal houses, Pod’s prefabricated 220-mm composite wall panels are comprised of galvanized zinc sheets, a layer of Sisalation (a highly reflective foil material), Isotherm thermal insulation and internal plywood panels.

A rooftop solar panel charges a battery unit that powers internal and external lighting and the 1000L water-holding tank is a luxury in an area where water is scarce. Two sets of bunk beds can fit inside each unit. The prototype is also equipped with an outdoor parabolic solar cooker and elevated off the ground to prevent flooding.

Currently, the Pod prototype costs approximately US$4,500 to complete, putting the structure out of the price range for many Mamelodi residents. As the AFAC team continues to refine the design, however, hopes are that mass production could lead to more affordable prices.

+ Architecture for A Change

Via Arch Daily

Images via Architecture for A Change

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