The Department of Architecture at the University of Pretoria is working in the South African housing context while gaining
knowledge of such issues worldwide. Various innovations are being carried out in terms of housing design and delivery
methods in South Africa. Through a methodical approach to design, it is believed that future architects will be able
to answer to contextual needs without compromising the high standard of design expected by the Department.
This paper evaluates an exercise in open building principles, carried out in 2003, with post-graduate architecture
and interior architecture students at the University. The focus was the application of open building principles from the
urban design level to that of the building and the residential units. It involved the design of social housing and the
upgrading of existing workers' hostels into family units as well as the provision of social amenities. Students were to
design various types of housing, showing alternative ways of 'living' and study housing in the area. The project involved
close interaction with community representatives.
The area of study was located in Soshanguve, a township with predominantly black inhabitants, situated to the northwest
of Pretoria. The previous political dispensation designated specific areas on the outskirts of the city as locations
for black migrant workers, known as townships. Subsequently these townships have become cities in themselves, housing
a large portion of the total population of Pretoria. It is here that there is a need for urban development and social
Soshanguve offered an excellent opportunity for learning and the dissemination of good design principles in housing
design. A debate on the relevance of open building to South Africa has been initiated. It is concluded that open
building systems are an effective tool to achieve diversity and can accommodate for wider sectors of the population.
Keywords : Open Building, Social Housing, Student Project,
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