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Wednesday Feb 27, 2013

"Green Shack" points way to the future

A prototype "Green Shack", developed by Cape Town design company Touching the Earth Lightly, will be on display at the Design Indaba.

The Green Shack outside the Convention Centre.

Punted by designer Stephen Lamb and artist Andrew Lord as a low-tech, replicable solution to fires and flooding, the shack has four design features used elsewhere in the world:

  • It has a floor-on-stilt design, to raise the shack above the floodplain.

  • On sun-facing sides it has vertical "food gardens", where hanging hessian sacks provide space for edible plants to be grown. This addresses food insecurity, while irrigation for these gardens also serves as a firebreak.

  • On non-sun-facing sides sand bags are planted with indigenous plants and function as natural firebreaks.

  • Alternative lighting, a low-cost solar light and a "litre of light" (consisting of a bottle fitted to the roof that refracts sunlight naturally to light up a shack in the day), provide alternatives to candles and paraffin lamps.

    Lamb said: "We're not focusing on longer-term, low-cost housing strategies for the Cape Flats. We are looking at what we can do now, right now. It's about being simple, logical and lowtech. It's about working in partnerships with the city and NGOs."

    The city is considering backing the design to be replicated in large numbers.

    The Design Indaba starts tomorrow at the Cape Town International Convention Centre and runs until Sunday.

    Cape Argus

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