Tiny off-the-grid pod to raise living conditions in South African settlements

mamelodi
Johannesburg based design studio, Architecture For A Change has recently completed the construction of an off-the-grid prefabricated unit located in the informal settlement of Mamelodi, South-Africa

It also has an exterior toilet which works like a French drain and has no need for a sewer connection.

Johannesburg-based design studio, Architecture For A Change (AFAC) has recently completed the construction of an off-the-grid prefabricated unit located in the informal settlement of Mamelodi, South-Africa. Dubbed Mamelodi Pod, the tiny prototype is designed with the aim of raising local living conditions while also providing an affordable housing solution for settlement districts.

“South Africa has 2,700 informal settlements with millions of inhabitants living in substandard conditions,” Dirk Coetser, Director of AFAC told Gizmag. “Many of these informal settlements don’t have water supply, electrical connections or storm water removal systems.”

Consisting mainly of a bedroom designed to fit two bunk beds (four beds in total), the Mamelodi Pod is currently being used as a small house and a temporary local soccer club. “Members of a local soccer club can now sleep comfortably in the unit instead of zinc shacks,” says Coetser.

It also has an exterior toilet which works like a French drain and has no need for a sewer connection. In Mamelodi, cooking mainly happens outside, so the pod features a parabolic solar cooker.

“We aspired to design and build a small building that blends into its informal context but that has a hint of contemporary design and has optimal environmental performance,” said Coetser.

The unit is prefabricated off site before being flat packed and transported by truck. The concrete foundations are the only part of the building that needs to be built on site and a minimum of three people can erect the pod in less than one day. Since it is completely self-sustainable, it can also be set up in almost any location.

The building is made up of composite wall panels comprising galvanized zinc sheets, a layer of Sisalation (a highly reflective foil material), Isotherm thermal insulation and internal plywood panels. The tiny home is thus equipped with excellent insulation, unlike common zinc shacks in the area which can be freezing during the winter and extremely hot during the summer.

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