South Africa
Vukuzakhe is a research project looking into developing systems for the delivery of an alternative building typology.
The potential for broad based economic sustainability through the building of municipal service delivery structures within the Ethekwini Metro is explored in a research document commissioned by the Ethekwini City Architecture Dept. The research process undertook to examine building systems, materials and processes of construction in order to understand if there is a more effective way to benefit the local residents. A wide variety of projects were analysed, consultants in economic and social development consulted and materials and systems reviewed. Benefit was measured in terms of the triple bottom line of social, economic and environmental impact. Materials and construction systems were analysed in terms of their • local availability, • energy carbon footprint in offsite and onsite processing, • adaptability through various building solutions, • potential for skills development, • easy of uptake in local communities, • ability to develop small industries, • benefit to end user, whether service provider or receiver. Although some conclusions were made, the objective is to develop a means of analysing the possibilities that building design and material specification offer to maximize sustainable economic growth. Benefit was seen in • Materials that are commonly available and processes that are easily adopted and for which there are existing skills. • Systems were proposed that allow simple fabrication of portable components that can be adapted to suit multiple conditions. • Building processes were proposed that allow community participation from project inception to building completion in architectural and non-architectural aspects of the project. • A multi-departmental co-operative municipal approach to the development of the site. •Successful systems would allow for further development of small business in the customization of components. Currently this research is being further developed in the design of three fire stations for the Ethekwini Fire Dept as well as the Unisa Bright Site Facility in Welbedagt for Ethekwini City Architects.

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