projectKHAYELITSHA was an effort to design and assist in construction of a new multipurpose community center in Khayelitsha, on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa.
The site provided an opportunity to create a center that would foster a sense of community ownership and a space serving an entire neighborhood with education and development projects.
Khayelitsha is the second largest township in South Africa, home to over 500,000 people. This project was affiliated with Art Aids Art and MonkeyBiz, nonprofit organizations working with a South African collective of women artists to create employment and empowerment for disadvantaged women through beadwork in the township.
The team led a participatory process involving the craftswomen and community members to in order to create a design providing transparency and openness for the artistic process while maintaining security.
The community center required natural ventilation and needed to be predominantly self-sustaining (a small garden provides much of the food cooked in the cafe for the artisans and visitors). We first researched the climate and conditions of Khayelitsha, speculating strategies for incorporating natural resources. Security was also of primary importance, given the high crime rate in the township. We explored a variety of siting options until determining the most safe yet open configuration.
Throughout the design process, the projectKHAYELITSHA team focused on continuing research in several areas:
. materials, particularly the possible use of local/found objects to create a porous yet secure facade
. alternative energy strategies, including solar panels and passive heating/cooling
. green roof construction, tested in an on-site mockup.
The mock-up tested various soil/sand bases, depths, and plantings in order to determine the most effective use of the intended roof-garden. The resulting design centers around a large, flexible community room that can be opened to the busy cul-de-sac in front or, more privately, to the inner courtyard. Also on the ground floor are a boutique/salon and community kitchen, with bedrooms for guests and the green roof above. The final material palette of brick, timber, polycarbonate, glass block, and metal container work together to bring light and warmth to each space.