This paper is a brief portrayal of the state of housing policies and programmes in South Africa, as well as the role of the design professional in the context and teaching of housing at the Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria. It attempts to relate the issues to some of the
themes of the conference: policy making, architectural design and urban principles, socioeconomic concerns, environmental, social and cultural sustainability and affordability.
While South Africa has had success in the rapid delivery of houses, it has been acknowledged that there are still many challenges faced in terms of generating functioning neighbourhoods as opposed to house units.
Considering the complex political history of the country, as well as current challenges of crime and poverty, may allow for shared lessons with the context of Sudan, while issues of reconciliation and closing the gaps between the rich and the poor are similar. Further, dealing with the peripheries of cities is a shared concern. Debating environmental degradation,
disconnected and uncoordinated developments could also allow for dialogue.
Both South Africa and Sudan need to learn from the vernacular and informality. They need to develop a distinctive approach to housing that relates to unique local concerns, as well as debate how these concerns relate to international knowledge and paradigms.
South Africa’s concern with crime is in a way comparable to Sudan’s concerns with political instability and dealing with the disruption caused by wars. The difficulties of dealing with racism, poverty and social exclusion are also comparable.
This paper attempts to portray some of the issues in the hope that a debate may be initiated as to how professionals can learn from each other and whether collaboration may be possible. At a meeting in 2005, and on finding out that one of the authors is from the Sudan, the current Minister
of Housing Lindiwe Sisulu said with enthusiasm: “When we have solved the housing problem here, we will then go and solve it in Sudan!”