Trading awareness – a collaboration with Milano Politecnico and residents of Imizamo Yethu

South Africa is the nation with the highest social and economic inequality in the world and faces daily challenges of integration and transformation. This study investigates the problem of informal settlements, a representation of the incommunicability between cultures in the country, and explores the environmental impact of invasive plants, analyzing the benefits that can be derived from their conscious use. The investigation focuses on the Cape Town area and in particular on the informal settlement of Imizamo Yethu  as a post-apartheid urban case study. First, the causes and characteristics of these problems are addressed with a large-scale analysis, corroborated during a trip to the capital through interviews and mapping in the Imizamo Yethu community.

Next, on a smaller scale, we address the design of a public place for the community in IY (Hout Bay) with a targeted intervention that meets the actual needs of the context and addresses the social and labor challenges present in informal settlements. These challenges include the lack of adequate training and rampant unemployment, as well as the lack of safe and decent community spaces.

To resource economy, preference was given to the use of low-tech construction systems, which allow for the inclusion of community workers, and local materials with a low environmental impact, such as the South African neo-material ‘nonCrete’, a low-tech bio-concrete made from wood chips of invasive alien plants that in South Africa and beyond threaten the native ecosystem and worsen the water security of the entire country. The project therefore also includes a proposal to protect South Africa’s biodiversity and its natural heritage through the eradication of invasive plants and subsequent reforestation, aligning with the principles of environmental movements across the continent. To achieve maximum environmental benefit, the study also includes an analysis phase of the resulting climate-altering gas emissions.

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