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«CSAAR (7: 2010: Amman) Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development \ Edited by Steffen Lehmann, Husam Al Waer, Jamal AI-Qawasmi. Amman: The Center ...»

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2.1 The current situation in South Africa

The South Afriean building tradition can be divided into two main streams. The first relates to the use of eartb by the indigenous groups of the country. The second tradition is that of the colonial settlers who brought eartb-building techniques from other parts of the world.

2.1.1 Indigenous earth-building traditions There are a great variety of indigenous building traditions, since each of the different groups had their own method. Similar techniques and methods were used by both indigenous people and settlers. The available resources uSually played a decisive role in this regard. As people developed a more permanent lifestyle, the walls were buHt of more solid material, such as sods or stone.

Changes in the plan form came about as a result of several factors, including new technologies and materials (use of corrugated iron as a roof material), as weH as urbanization.

Sustainable Architecture and Utban Development 329

Figure 1: A Ndebele house on the left and a Sotho house on the right

Today, many dwellings buHt in accordance with these traditional building methods can still be seen in rural areas. The thatched roofs have mainly disappeared, and have been replaced by corrogated iron sheets. The forms have changed; but the building teclmiques have still remained the same, involving the use of wattle and daub, cob and sun-dried blocks.

Figure 2: Earth houses in Thaba Nchu with stroctural problems (left: no lintels & right: no roof overhang) In urban areas it is a different application where earth construction is seen as a temporary solution. The quality of these buildings is veIY poor, owing to the disappearance of the original skills, the knowledge involved in the use of the relevant techniques and decoration.

2.1.2 Architecture of the settlers The Cape Dutch architecture in South Africa displays a wonderful blending of building applications and methods that were known in Europe. wi1h the available materials and skills of a new country (Greig,1971:21). Many earth-building techniques were used in accordance with the available resources. A few exampJes will be discussed.

2.1.2.1 Wattle and daub Some of the first houses in the Cape displayed no similarity to the well-known Cape Dutch houses, but were singJe-storey dwellings, built of wattle and daub according to a rectangular plan. The roofs were thatched (Walton, 1952:5).

Examples of this tradition of building with earth are also found all over the country. Elize Labuschagne (1998:26) writes that in the Transvaal, as it was then known, the trekboere (the farmers from the Cape who migrated to the north) Gerhard Bosman, Petria Smit & Das Steyn built their houses aecording to different earth-building techniques. Materials included wattle and daub (as used tor the houses ofthe Zulu, Tswana, Venda and also the Sotho) (1898:26). The walls were then plastered with mud, or mud and eow-dung, and whitewashed with lime.

2.1.2.2 Cob Examples of eob arehiteeture ean be found in Tulbach. After the earthquake of 29 September 1969, in wh ich the largest portion of the main street of Tulbaeh was almost ruined, Dr Gawie Fagan, who eondueted the restoration, found that the walls ofthe houses were made of cob.

Figure 3: Historie houses restored in Church Street, Tulbach

Cob walls were also used in the eonstruetion of the early Free State houses (Pretorius 1997: 134). When a farm became a more permanent residence, stone and sun-dried blocks were used for construction (Pretorius 1997: 134).

2.1.2.3 South Africa has a rich earth-building tradition, in view of the different teehniques, loeations and soil types, as weIl as the country's different cultures.

What is possibly even more important i8 the fact that, in the various earth­ building traditions of the people of this eountry, more similarities than differences ean be observed.

2.2 Contemporary sustainable earth buildings in South Africa

Ouring recent years different groups started experimenting with alternative materials and eonstruetion methods in South Afriea. The word "alternative" i5 applied to materials and techniques not part of mainstream building practiees.

Sustainable Architecture and Crban Development 331 Many of the buildings may not constitute great architecture but they have played a noteworthy role regarding the criteria of sustainability.

2.1.3 Tbe Cape Province The Alliance Franyaise building in Cape Town designed by ACG Architects and Development Planners. provide the venue for a language school. The process followed promoted the use of compressed earth blocks in a contemporary building. This project provided economic opportunities and skills-training tor the surrounding community (SA Digest. 2000:90).

Figure 4: Exterior (a) and interior (b) views ofthe Alliance Franyaise building in Cape Town 2.1.4 Tbe Free State The Uni! for Earth Construction which is part of the Department of Architecture at the UFS has constructed several experimental buildings since 1995. These include a prototype house, ablution facilities for sports grounds. daycare centers for pre school children. a large multi-purpose hall and a tourist centre. Stabilized adobe and compressed earth blocks were used for these buildings. Training of unskilled sm all builders and students comprised parts of these projects.





2.1.5 Tbe Nortbern Cape The South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) - the main research laboratory in the country launched a project entitled Thube Makote. with the aim of building a school in each of the nine provinces. One of the requirements was the lIse 01' locally-prodllced materials. In the project entailing the construction of a school in Bankhara Blidolong near Kuruman. A grollp 01' people from the commllnity received training in the production of compressed earth blocks and the contractor bOllght the bricks from them.

Gerhard Bosman, Petria Smit& Das Steyn 2.1.6 The Eastem Cape Another experimental project was conducted in Buffalo City near East London by the Van der Leij Foundation, with the technical support of CRATerre-EAG in France. This housing project was carried out with the approval and co-operation of the municipality.

2.1.1 KwaZulu-Natai In KwaZulu-Natal, an Australian group, AusAid, worked in the very remote rural areas, using earth as a building material. The work of the DUIban-based architect Rodney Harber is a great example of "pushing the boundaries". He uses a11 kinds of materials in his projects.

2.1.8 Gauteng In Gauteng, the well-known architect, Peter Ricb, designed the offices of Hydraform, a company which produces brick presses. Earth produced by the presses that the company manufacture were used for the constructioIl. This is an example of a corporate building that illustrates the potential of the use of earth in urban arcas.

2.1.9 Namibia The Habitat Research and Development Centre in Katatura by the architect Nina Maritz addressed different issues regarding tbe different facets of sustainability.

The building is the result of a range of materials, techniques and innovative ecosystems. This centre illustrates how the building industry can pIay a role in the protection of our environment, by encouraging innovative thinking about what we do and how it is done.

Figure 6: Tbe Habitat Research and Development Center in Katatura, Windhoek.

2.2 Infonnal housing in South Africa In South Africa every town and city is surrounded by ex1ensive areas of infonnal and formal housing buHt by the less fortunate. Vast numbers of poor people live in these townships surrounding towns and cities. The infonnal houses are made of all sorts of materials that people can obtain at little or no cost These include plastic, corrugated iron sheets, wood, old bricks and also earth. Many people use the soil from the plot on which they arc residing, to make blocks 10 build a house. This is one of the cheapest ways to construct a house if one has linIe or no income.

Sustainab le Architecture and Urban Development 333

Figure 7: The current situation in respect ofhousing in the Thaba Nchu

However, these houses all display similar problems, which indude one or

more of the following:

A lack of foundations, \",ith the resuIt that houses tend to crack, especially in areas where day is prominent.

Figure 8: Main problems with erosion caused by water penetration

This situation in respect of poverty, infonnal settlements and the practice of building with whatever materials are available - with little "know-how" or skill has created negative perceptions about earth buildings in general in this countty.

This i5 most unfortunate, since if earth buildings are constructed in the correct manner and properly maintained. they can last for hundreds of years. The Cape Dutch houses provide an excellent example in this regard.

Gerhard Bosman, Petna Smit & Uas

2.3 The Government's solution.

In South Africa the govemment has apoHe}' to provide every citizen with a (rel.' house together with a lot of minimum services (Pithouse, 2009). This cr:al~'.~ expectations frOln poor people and away the initiative to do your own thmg.

Furthermore the govemment is building all these houses with burned or cemcpl bricks. This is then sccn as a better solution.

3 Measuring Attitudes, Sustainability and Local Economk Development

3.1 Measuring attitudes Throughout thc ages. human beings havc always been conecmed aboul.vh!'!

other people are thinking and how they are likely to react. The roots of fhi':

concern can partly be round in the necessity 01' self- preservatioll (and thus. tlte need to know: "[s the other person a danger to me?"). This eventually developed into a kind of self-interest ("Can the other person help meT), while later on. an element oF curiosity came into play ("!Iow will the other person behave')")

Attitudes are complex and variable (Henerson. 1987: Oppenheim. 1992; Leed:;

& Orrnrod 200 I). Jt has long since been establ ished that there is a direcl link

between a person's attitude and his/her cin..:umstanccs: and this link needs to bc:

carefully taken into consideration.

3.2 Sustainability

This paper does not aim to provide specific. directly applicabh: measures for supporting local economic development through sustainahle construction. At best, it may provide some guidelines for developin.f! slIch measures The paper does aim to stress the importance and potential of applying sustainablc construction as a means for local economic development.

3.2.1 Sustainable construction Earth construction was identified as an ideal vehicle tor supporting local economic development in a sustainable way. People who are directly or indirectly involved in construction have ever)' reason to be concerned about sustainable development. According to estimations, the construction industry is responsible For approximately 40 per cent of all rcsource consumption and 40 per cent of all waste production (Du Plessis. 2002: iv).

3.2.1 Sustainable settlements Truly sustainable construction requires that attention shnuld nol only be focused on buildings, but also on infrastrudure and services. Furthermore, socio­ economic and environmental issues nt:ed tG bc considered; and cornmunily involvement is essential. Achieving sustall1ablc settlements i:: thc goal in tlm regard. In 200 I. the CSIR was comrnissioned by the National Housing Department to calTY out a study on thc slistainability of human settlements in Sustainable Architecture and Urban 335 South Afnca (Du Plessis. 200-': 12-1 J). Une 01 the chosen points of dcp,lrturc tOl detennining the susiainabihty 01 CX!stll1g human senicments was thc quaiu', lite otlered to cach :m'mllCI 01 "üc!·ty.

con"umer~, und whic: h 'A:()uld a i /''' rn,\!" pom! of view. Sun-dtyj"t:. in üHltr:...'! \ 4 The First Survey

–  –  –

4. L Results of Survey I The tüllowing results indieate the main issues and problems that can be deduced on the basis oftlle data collected.

4.2 Categories of three areas

Tlle different locations can be categorised into three (3) main areas:



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