Architecture Fabrik

Architecture Fabrik

Community Living

Planning Low Cost Housing on Steep Gradients
Finding The Front Door and Improving Liveability

Flat land within 40km of the Durban CBD that could reasonably be appropriated for low cost housing has become a rarity. Sites currently under review for housing projects range from steep 1:3 gradients to a slightly better 1:5 gradient. It has been understood for some time that single storey, low cost housing town planning layouts with ‘platformed’ sites are both inefficient in terms of population density, and cost prohibitive on these steep topographies. Various proposals and experiments to densify housing projects have been undertaken in the past. With the urban transition now upon us,densification is of paramount importance.

This paper aims to demonstrate how current proposals are dealing with unlocking previously undeveloped urban land while complying with the recently revised South African National Building Regulations, and new prescribed energy regulations. Complex interrelated issues include unstable soil profiles, the safe control of storm water in a tropical climate, pedestrianized access where the population primarily uses public transport, integration of urban space as part of the development, and ultimately increasing densities at the lowest possible cost while allowing for back yard extensions.  The built form, determined by the complex synergy of the above invariably determines the town planning layout, as opposed to the traditional approach of providing a town planning layout as a framework for development to take place. 

The rationale behind two detailed house prototypes, with their options for future extensions will be discussed, which demonstrate the detailed response to these issues. The way in which these determine the town planning layout and that within a sub-urban context will be demonstrated.