South African researchers say they have developed a low-cost and sustainable housing alternative to the flimsy corrugated iron shacks found in the country’s growing settlements. Developed by an interdisciplinary at Stellenbosch University’s TsamaHUB center, the so-called iShack is insulated with inexpensive, natural materials such as mud and cardboard boxes and has a sloped roof for harvesting rainwater.
A photovoltaic cell on the roof provides the energy for motion-sensitive exterior lighting, interior lighting, and a cellphone charger. So far, a mother and her three children are living in a prototype iShack in Ekanini, an informal settlement of 8,000 residents in Cape Town that lacks access to electricity and an adequate water supply.
Project developers also taught six residents in the community how to install, maintain and fix the solar power system in hopes they can use the skills for future entrepreneurial ventures. The iShack is part of a major change in policy approach to South Africa’s housing crisis. Researchers hope to apply the iShack’s design and systems to upgrade informal settlements in other regions.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.