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Universal design for low-cost housing in South Africa : an exploratory study of emerging socio-technical issues
Fransolet, Colette Ghislaine Claudine
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Low-cost housing is always an important / a weighty topic for discussion in South Africa and the construction or occupation of such houses often makes media headlines. The media usually raises the negative aspects of such housing, for instance, the fact that these houses are sometimes poorly constructed, or that the administration systems for allocating such houses to their new owners are often faulty, or that physical access to them is limited, particularly for people with disabilities, and that social interactions among the inhabitants of these houses is often problematic. It therefore appears that the ‘design for all’ – or ‘Universal Design’ – approach has not been considered during the design phases of these developments. Although Universal Design is not a new concept, the South African National Building Regulations has a section specially for creating physical access, but it is not widely practiced or implemented in South Africa, let alone with the local housing sector. There is general lack of awareness, technical know-how for the implementation and a lack of enforceable penalties for non-compliance with this specific section of the Building Regulations (SANS 10400 Part S of 2011). This study aims to investigate some of the socio-technical issues that have arisen in the low-cost housing sector, by specifically focusing on informal settlements in Cape Town, South Africa. During the period of apartheid, pre-1994, population groups in South Africa were segregated into separate residential areas; the aftermath of this is still prevalent, as is the continued exclusion of marginalized groups within the low-cost housing sector. Data was collected through interviews with various people within the professional sector including Architects, experts in Universal Design and people from organisations that specialise in the planning/design/construction of low-cost Housing in Cape Town, focusing on the lack of a more community orientated design approach that utilises the principles of Universal Design as well as Universal Access building audits. Such audits were conducted on houses and communities that were constructed prior to 2004, on houses and communities that were designed and constructed after the passing of the Breaking New Ground (BNG) policy (2010), as well as on proposed new housing designs that were being considered for the future construction. The audits looked at general circulation spaces, community involvement, sustainability and means of construction. On the basis of these highlighted elements, in conjunction with the tender requirements of low-cost housing, and the findings of the interviews
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