Collectif Saga just came back after 6 months building a pre-school in an informal settlement, Joe Slovo Township, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
The new crèche has been designed and built by the architect studio Collectif Saga, in partnership with Indalo and Love Story. With on average the same budget as an RDP house (houses built by the government) the project tries to show that by building in a different way we can off the uses better, bigger and more flexible spaces. Thus, a RDP house is in average 36m2 while the building we erected is 138m2. This was made possible by using mostly recycled materials which were mostly free or of low cost and by establishing efficient building techniques.
One big objective of the project was to try to develop simple and reproducible processes, which would give the community the tools and knowledge to reproduce these processes for their own development. We decided to use similar materials to what they use for construction (palettes, corrugated sheets, tyres etc.). Those were then transformed in order to make a durable, solid building with a high architectural value. We also integrated various members of the community throughout the process in order to continuously share this knowledge. It was a two-way knowledge exchange in the sense that we have a lot to learn from the community who everyday build and rebuild using limited resources from their own environment. It was important for us to show that we can also have fun with these cheap materials and that, as architects, we have to find the means and the tools to transform those in unique and functional objects.
One of the biggest challenges of this site was the rainwater issue. In fact, every time it rains in Joe Slovo, there is mud everywhere. Thus, we decided to raise the building in order to make sure it does not get flooded. We also created exterior decks that are above the ground so that the kids can still play outside. Retention walls and tranches were put in position in order to have a better and more efficient water flow on site. In the sanitation building, the floor is covered of crushed shatterproof glass (noncutting) in order to prevent the space to become extremely dirty when it rains.