Every year, nearly seventy million people, or 200,000 a day, move from rural areas to urban cities. In South Africa alone, more than 2.2 million homes are currently needed, and an additional 180,000 homes will be needed every year to keep pace with rapid urbanization. The Plastic Formwork System is a method of building cast-in-place reinforced concrete structures, in which the walls of a house can be built in as little as a day by unskilled laborers with locally sourced materials and little waste.
The system is comprised of square plastic components that join together to form wall panels from which the house is assembled. The house’s infrastructure—steel-reinforcement bars, conduits, window and door frames, pipes and other fittings—is positioned on the wall; once in place, these elements are sandwiched between a second layer of panels, forming a cavity into which a lightweight concrete mortar is poured. After the mortar dries overnight, the Plastic Formwork panels are removed and reassembled for use at the next housing site, minimizing waste and transportation needs.
The plastic formwork kits can each be reused to cast fifty homes, after which the plastic is recycled into household consumer products such as toilet seats. The result is a house that can both withstand natural disasters and provide thermal insulation and moisture resistance. Moreover, it leads to local job creation without compromising quality or integrity. The Plastic Formwork System has been used in housing projects throughout South Africa, and the company has established branches in thirteen countries, including Namibia, Mozambique, and Mexico.