Housing Exhibition

26’10 south Architects

Project lead

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In 2008, 26’10 south Architects in partnership with the Goethe Institute South Africa embarked on a research project focussed on reading the flows and networks of the informal city. Johannesburg’s largest post-apartheid township, Diepsloot, was identified as a suitable study site given 26’10 south Architect’s long standing engagement with the area.

The township’s major informal settlement, known as the ‘Reception Area’ was further identified as a good area for analysis given its function as the place where most new visitors first set up home.

The research began with an extensive mapping of a portion of Reception Area. Over 1ha of the area was accurately measured and drawn up through sustained engagement with community members. This process highlighted socio-spatial complexities and embedded economic networks.

The research continued with 26’10 hosting various debates, a master class and publishing a small booklet of findings. Focus then turned to the question of suitable housing provision in an informal neighbourhood such as Reception Area.

Existing South African housing strategies were examined together with the reasons for the severe social housing backlog. The continued creation of sprawling, characterless edge conditions without any relationship to economic opportunity, and the spatial complexities of the street were identified as additional challenges.

In response, an approach to designing housing in a dense informal settlement was proposed, which avoided relocations, and maintained community bonds and structures, while creating opportunities for enhancing and supporting entrepreneurial activity.

The research was collated into a website, which was the ideal platform for housing roleplayers, government officials, designers, and recipients to access it.

In September 2010 the website was exhibited at the Johannesburg architecture festival, Architecture.ZA. It was later moved and reformatted as a new exhibition at Goethe on Main in the inner-city.