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Thread: Alternative Top Structures

  1. #1

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    Alternative Top Structures

    Our firm is involved in low cost housing projects throughout South Africa.

    Current legislation and policy measures make provision for specfic housing only: -
    • Hollow concrete brick construction on a raft foundation
    • 30 to 40m in extent
    • Single basin, single toilet in separate room
    • Sheet or tiled roofing with no ceiling
    • two external windows

    Sometimes more than one room is added, or the community are offered the opportunity to decide on an external (or no) toilet, and two internal rooms.

    I would be interested in any case studies or examples where alternative housing types have been utilised effectively within legislative and policy constraints (in other words not just theoretical - there are plenty of those).

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    I think it is hard to compare very-low- and low-income housing between the US/Canada and other countries, just for the reason that some of the options (such as no indoor toilet) probably wouldn't fly here these days. The difference I guess is that instead of relaxing construction standards from what would be required for more expensive units, the dwellings get much smaller.

    The most common very-low-income housing projects are SROs (Single Room Occupancy units), which are similar in concept (but often smaller) than studio units. The typical minimum floor area for an SRO is approximately 12m. This is often used as transitional housing from homelessness into permanent affordable units or regular market units.

    One of the more innovative approaches to affordable housing that I've seen with my own eyes is from Davis, California... and it is called The Domes. It is a student-run cooperative, with loft-style dwellings in (you guessed it) a dome. There are typically two students per dome, with cooperative kitchen facilities, organic gardens, etc.

    I'm not sure if this was the type of thing you were getting at... so if you want to post a few more details of what are looking for, maybe I can dig up some other examples.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I know that teh cmhc has done quite a bit of research on this topic (Toronto's healthy house, alternative construction in the regulaory framework)

    You may want to check their website

  4. #4
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    In Canada the most innovative single-family-type affordable structure is the Grow Home , which was the winner of the World Habitat Award. It provides for a low-cost, efficient dwelling for people/families starting out, with the flexibility to add on as the needs of the individuals/families change. The link I added goes to a page written by the creator of the Grow Home, Avi Friedman, and it's not a bad summary of the benefits of a grow home. Obvsiously, Avi is a little biased though.

  5. #5

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    Originally posted by nerudite
    The most common very-low-income housing projects are SROs (Single Room Occupancy units), which are similar in concept (but often smaller) than studio units. The typical minimum floor area for an SRO is approximately 12m. This is often used as transitional housing from homelessness into permanent affordable units or regular market units.
    Thats actually amazing, we are busy with a project in Paarl, Western Cape, Cape Town, and have recently identified what is known as the "People's Housing Process"

    This is a National Government initiative that is an alternative to the main line government subsidy approach, where a contractor builds the houses for the beneficiaries.

    With this initiative over and above the standard subsidy of only between R7,500 and R13,500 (Divide by 8 to get to US Dollars) you get an additional R570 rand per beneficiary that goes towards a facilitator that helps the beneficiaries build their own houses.

    What astounds me though is that to qualify beneficiaries have to build a house with a minimum of 36 m which is a mere 24m larger than your minimum.

    We have a lot to learn

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