Students and IY residents get hands-on

Community members at the water platform. The bottle top shading can clearly be seen.

A project which forms part of the second year architecture curriculum at the University of Cape Town (UCT) has changed the lives of some Imizamo Yethu residents after a water platform for water collection, washing and social gathering was built by the students during the June holidays.

Through their studies they were able to develop the designs for the platform and manufacture the physical prototypes of the various components used for the structure.

The students volunteered to physically construct the platform on site, which took six days.

They involved Imizamo Yethu residents during the planning phases and unemployed community members were nominated by neighbours to assist with the construction.

There was an exchange of knowledge and the students taught community members new skills, while the community members taught the students some artisanal skills and demonstrated the realities of living in informal settlements.

All the earthworks were done by the students and residents.

This included built formwork, reinforcing, mixing of concrete, building foundations and a retaining wall, paving the platform, making wash-tops, painting, and making a shaded structure out of bottle caps.

The use of recycled materials was one of the themes of this year’s platform.

The 2 800 bottle caps that were required could not be sourced from local recycling depots at short notice, so they were purchased from Operation Smile, thereby making a contribution towards the funding of operations for children with cleft palates.