A community-funded affordable housing scheme for Cape Town has been named on a shortlist of five entries for Africa in a global competition run by RICS (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) to find solutions to problems facing the world’s cities.
(Delft)LINK, entered by Jonathan Wilson and Anees Arnold, students from South Africa who are currently studying in the UK, is South Africa’s first community funded affordable housing initiative. It is a non-profit company that links prospective local developers, investors and tenants via a smart phone application.
Cape Town suffers from a severe shortage of housing for low-income earners. The scheme, situated in Delft South, a housing settlement close to Cape Town International Airport, looks to solve this by empowering local residents to become micro-developers of their own good quality, affordable housing. This will in turn generate economic growth in local communities and enable residents to live, work and play closer to where they live.
TC Chetty, RICS Country Manager for South Africa, comments: “(Delft)LINK’s approach improves the quality of the built environment, equalises access to economic resources and improves the quality of life of those in marginalised areas. Notably, the project has the potential to be implemented in other, similar areas. It also reduces the time and income spent by low-income earners on transportation in order to access economic opportunity.
He adds: “Globally, with three million people moving to cities every week, the growth of the urban population is one of the biggest challenges facing society today. This rapid expansion is putting ever more strain on urban infrastructure and services. Many city dwellers live in slums or poor-quality housing and many have to contend with with poor air quality and inadequate transport links.”
The Cities for our Future competition, run by RICS in partnership with the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO and the Association of Commonwealth Universities, called upon young people to come up with new ideas to help tackle the most pressing problems affecting cities in Africa and around the world. The competition received more than 1 200 entries globally and over 200 from Africa alone. The overall winner of the competition will receive a prize of £50 000.
Other shortlisted entries offering solutions in Africa
Other entries of benefit to the African continent include an idea to use recycled plastic in buildings to help deal with plastic waste in Nairobi, proposed by Joseph Mwangi from Kenya. With over $500 million of development planned in Nairobi alone, the use of more recycled plastics in building products would help deal with the extensive plastic wastes problem Kenya faces from the 50 million plastics bottles thrown away annually in the country.
Among other entries designed to address issues on the continent is an idea to retrofit existing buildings in cities across Africa with 3D printed porous insulation panels to improve liveability and reduce energy consumption for cooling and ventilation, which was proposed by Joseph Augustin of the United Kingdom. The idea is for a flexible retrofitting process in which the passive thermal regulation and overall resilience of existing buildings can be improved, while leaving existing homes and communities in place. The scheme will reduce energy consumption from artificial cooling systems.
A plan to build upon the current informal TRO-TRO minibus system to create an effective and more formal transport network based around a number of hubs, was proposed by Eiman Alsakha from Spain. For many Ghanaians, TRO-TROs are the only affordable means of transport and the idea calls for a transport system that builds on this rather than creating expensive new transport infrastructure.
And a plan to use bamboo, one of the world’s fastest growing plants, combined with low carbon Glue laminate technology to build low cost social housing to help solve Nairobi’s housing problems, proposed by Michel Lardin from France. As well as being fast growing, bamboo is strong, yet several times less dense than steel. It can be used to create large structures quickly and cheaply, making it the perfect solution to Nairobi’s urgent housing crisis.
Joshua Askew of JLL, Head Judge of the regional judging panel for Africa said: “UN-HABITAT predicts that the population of many African cities will grow by 85% over the next 15 years. By 2030 over half of Africa’s population will live in cities compared with one third today. Solving problems facing our growing cities has to be a priority for governments across the continent. Young people across Africa and the globe are clearly passionate about dealing with the issues facing our growing cities and we have been hugely impressed by the inventiveness, creativity and quality of the entries for our region. Any one of the five finalists in Africa could go on to be the global winner.”
An overall winner from Africa will be announced later this month and will go on to the global shortlist with the chance to win £50 000. All entries on the global shortlist will get the chance to work with an expert mentor provided by RICS, who will help develop the idea in the run up to the final judging in November.
Sean Tompkins, RICS Global CEO says: “Our aim with the Cities for our Future Competition was to harness the ideas of our diverse and talented young people to help solve the challenges of the cities they care about and make them better for generations to come. We hope that the leaders of the world’s cities are listening and will work with us and all of our shortlisted entries to make these ideas a reality and help tackle some of the most pressing issues facing their cities.”