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South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand


Thursday, December 04, 2008, 4:42:24 PM

Builders in South Africa have begun construction on a new type of housing for low-income families. The buildings look like conventional homes, but the walls are made with sandbags. Architects say their experimental design is quicker and easier to build. For VOA, Terry FitzPatrick reports from Cape Town.

South Africa builds about 250,000 houses for the poor, every year. But ten homes going up in Freedom Park are a radical departure from standard construction practices.

 

Construction of a sandbag home in South Africa

"This is a drawing plan which we use for construction," said Luyanda Mpahlwa of MMA Architects, who was commissioned by a Cape Town foundation, called the Design Indaba, to develop new ideas for low-cost homes.

"We had to be creative, in terms of finding a different way of building. Because we're all comfortable to say this is how you build today and we don't challenge ourselves to find alternative methods," added Mpahlwa.

The design team's first innovation was to move beyond the standard floor plan of a single-story home. The new layout has two floors. A living room, kitchen and bath are downstairs. Upstairs, there are two bedrooms and a balcony. Mpahlwa says the 581 square feet of living space is bigger and better than the low-income homes South Africa has been building.

"We are trying to introduce the element of dignity in low-cost housing. Now, as architects we've got the challenge to apply our trade to improve the lives of people. But, at the same time, we should provide good quality for the people, so that they have a decent house," said Mpahlwa.

The building's most unusual innovation comes from a small factory, a few miles away. Frameworks for the homes are pre-fabricated at a company called Eco Beam and then shipped to the construction site. Mike Tremeer developed the wood-and metal framework design.

"I think it makes it easy to build. It's extremely fast. It's ideal for situations where you have no infrastructure," said Tremeer.

Once the frame goes up on site, the walls are filled-in with 3,500 sandbags. Tremeer says sandbags are strong and durable. And, to keep costs down, community members fill the bags, themselves, at the building location.

"It adds so much value to someone's property, if they've actually had an input in actually being able to help to build that house. And, this is an opportunity for people to actually do that. We can use extremely unskilled labor," said Tremeer. "Once the framework is up, it's just a matter of filling in the gaps."

The ten experimental sandbag homes will be occupied by families who have been living in shacks. Construction is being financed by private donors. The project recently won the prestigious Curry Stone architectural award from the University of Kentucky, in the United States. But it is not clear if South African officials will adopt the sandbag concept for other housing developments. The architects estimate each home will cost about 10-thousand dollars to build. That is more than expected and is twice the price of a conventional low-income house in South Africa.



Feedback for this Weblog Entry

Re: South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand Feb. 9, 2009 20:58 J. Olivier

Could you send me more info om building houses with sand


Re: South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand Feb. 19, 2009 17:46 L Ras

Could you please send me information on building houses with sand. A contact number for the building company would also be much appreciated.
Re: South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand Feb. 23, 2009 12:58 nicky@lhattorneys.co.za

please send me more info and pictures on sandbag houseing
Re: South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand Mar. 16, 2009 8:09 James Gordon

Can you please send me more information wrt bulding with sandbags - Does one still need a foundation of bricks etc.
Re: South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand Apr. 18, 2009 18:00 Fransien Fick

Is there any workshops in sanbag building one can attend in the Western Cape?
Re: South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand Sep. 13, 2009 19:15 Keith

I am looking for a sandbag supplier,as I aintend building my own sandbag streucture. Can you be of assistance in this regard?
Houses Made of Sand Nov. 23, 2009 14:41 Mariette

Could you please forward me info wrt building a house with sand bags?

Re: South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand Aug. 17, 2010 20:04 Bev

Please will you forward any/all information you have on sandbag houses / sandbag house building?

bevpett@gmail.com

Many thanks.
17 Aug 2010


Re: South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand Aug. 18, 2010 10:16 Webmaster

We have no further informationa available on subject
Find MMA Architects' info below, they might be able to assist

tel: +27 21 419 0601/0602
email: reception@mmacape.co.za


Re: South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand Dec. 23, 2010 13:15 south africa house


"I think it makes it easy to build. It's extremely fast. It's ideal for situations where you have no infrastructure," said Tremeer.
Re: South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand Dec. 23, 2010 13:16 south africa house

"I think it makes it easy to build. It's extremely fast. It's ideal for situations where you have no infrastructure," said Tremeer.
Re: South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand Mar. 18, 2011 11:04 south africa house

Yeah, the House of sand is one of the oldest estates in South Africa and many of them owned by many years by different families really great. I am looking for some different look for my south Africa house as I am going to shift over there.

South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand Jun. 16, 2011 21:38 Andy Strydom

Any info you may require on SandBag building please refer to www.ecobuilders.co.za

Re: South Africa Experiments With Houses Made of Sand Jan. 18, 2013 10:36 Dada

Please kindly send me some relevant information on Building houses with Sand and if there is any information especially using waste sands from foundry for construction it will be highly appreciated.

Here is my mail address: oppyraphs@yahoo.com or dadaopeoluwa@gmail.com
Thanks Dada.



 
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