This article was made in partnership with Design Indaba, a website and annual festival that uncovers innovation for good. Global Graduate Nicole Moyo presented her project Day 1 of the 2019 festival. Click here to learn more about the annual event.
Our planet is home to almost 7 billion people. Out of these 7 billion, more than 5 billion have access to mobile phones, but less have access to working toilets, and more than 1 billion still discharge waste in the open.
The truth is, many cities all over the world are evolving at a very rapid rate, but several communities, like the ones in South Africa, for instance, remain underdeveloped with limited access to basic resources. Since governments are often unable to provide all basic needs of its people, citizens are forced to take matters in their own hands.
Nicole Moyo, a Zimbabwean born, South African citizen and architecture graduate from Carleton University proposed ‘Ukubutha,’ an innovative social architecture that is designed for and built by the community.
Ukubutha, which stands for ‘gather’ in Zulu, is a series of community-led settlements that provide means of converting waste to energy. Wells, huts, digesters, gardens, and public spaces will cater to the community’s needs and reflect their vibrant culture and traditions.
The project is situated along the border of Mamelodi, South Africa. The town was established under the Apartheid regime, aiming to alienate cultural divisions and physical race. Although the country was able to overcome social-economic oppression, people are still living in disastrous standards that are below international qualities of social living. Thousands of people remain with limited access to sanitized water or electricity due to the fact that tank trucks deliver water to the residents once a day. Only 83 chemical toilets are available for two thousand people to use, and these toilets are only cleaned twice a week.
Moyo’s system is designed to encourage self-dependency and sufficiency, relying on nature and personal input, so that little reliance on additional infrastructure and governmental involvement is required. Energy is collected from human waste and turned into fertilizer, promoting green spaces while methane gas is also collected from sanitation facilities through an aerobic digestion process.
The role of architecture is to mediate between the social needs of township communities without formal access to water, sanitation, or electricity. Harvesting resources from the environment and recycling organic waste will emancipate the community from fully depending on government agencies.