A simple timber frame that adapts to functional and regionalistic need, allows incremental growth and provides a solid foundation to any dwelling.




When visiting a township in South Africa one is overwhelmed by the authentic character and street life these neighborhoods contain.  Along with this comes a high level of creativity held by its inhabitants, showing that informal dwellers always find ways to make the most of the little they have.


The structures inhabited by these dwellers are readily built for far less than $300. However, the problem is that what the structures make up in creative output it lacks in structural stability.  They contain no formal foundation or technical solidity that leads to structural failure, flooding and a high level of deterioration.   Time and money is spend maintaining the architecture instead of improving it.



This idea proposes to provide informal dwellers with a well-built frame around which they can construct a dwelling (or improve an existing).  The base offering is a 2200x2500mm timber frame.  The frame is fitted with a ply floor, bed platform, light, cooking area (with sink, tap and electrical outlet) and a study space.  The �kit� is also supplied with plastic sheeting (initial cladding material) and sandbags for structural stability. 


Hereafter the dwellings can be adapted and developed according to the functional need and geological location of its inhabitant.  They are low tech and can be replicated (copied, rotated or mirrored) to make up bigger dwellings.  The timber structure also makes self-improvement easy.


Single unit is ideal for one dweller, providing ample space for cooking, sleeping and studying.  The unit can also be adapted to suit a single parent and child (with a smaller utility space).


When the units are joined together Double unit provides enough living space for a family of three while Triple unit accommodates at least 4 people.  More units can also be added.





Bamboo in Asia, corrugated sheeting in South Africa or grass in Mozambique.  The units will be wrapped with what is local, most economical and readily available. Time and money can now be used to incrementally and continually improve the dwelling, adding insulation, improving external cladding and fitting better doors and windows.





All material measurements are worked out according to available sizes to ensure nothing is wasted.   Wood will be sourced from sustainable locations, depending on location.  Ply sheets have been carefully worked out to ensure every cut is used. The unit�s simplicity ensures that it can be built by anyone with not more than two people needed per unit (1�2 days).


The basic frame is built for $300 while the cover sheet and fittings add extra cost. 




The unit is placed to respond best with the environment it is put in.  Within South Africa the pitch will face south to minimize direct sunlight and heat gain.  The overhang ensures that direct sunlight only penetrates the window in winter and driving rain is kept out.  Two windows on opposite sides and at different heights ensure adequate air circulation and cross ventilation.




Window sizes are kept small to ensure the unit is secure.  An alternative pile foundation system is proposed.  Timber columns with tapered ends pierce into the earth.  Hereafter sandbags are used to keep the weight down and the unit in one place.  The tapered ends are treated with a protective substance(Laykold or similar).  These columns also raise the unit from the ground, minimizing risk to flooding.  The pile system also allows it to be constructed on a slope.



Adapt + Develop




d e s I g n

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