Paper presented at the XXXIII IAHS World Congress on Housing, 27-30 September 2005,"Transforming Housing Environments through Design", University of Pretoria.
Currently the Peoples Housing Process is one of the programmes for housing delivery in South Africa. The PHP directorate is provided with serviced sites on which is constructed a little house costing about R18000. This includes the foundation and superstructure. The actual infrastructure costs have not been determined. The community helps build the house with the help of a PHP support centre. The support centre is a community-based organization that receives technical support from the Housing Department PHP Directorate and from the Local Council. A PHP beneficiary provides some sweat equity in the building of the house. Beneficiaries qualify if they earn R1500 or less, are cohabiting and have some dependents. The main problem with this programme is that it still replicates apartheid style housing. The idea behind this kind of housing is that the government provides a core house that the beneficiary will improve over time. Anecdotal evidence indicates that what actually happens is that additions are made ad hoc using similar materials and construction to that used in informal settlements. On the basis of current observations, it can be claimed that this kind of housing programme actually promotes further slum development. It also builds on the illusion that land is cheap, and that other settlement issues such as community facilities and infrastructure are less important than the physical house. In a partnership with the Gauteng Housing Department, Peoples’ Housing Process Directorate the T.U.T. School of Social Architecture has established an internship programme that aims to expose future architectural professionals to the low income housing environment. The School, through interned students engaging with beneficiaries, aims at establishing welfare associations through the vehicle of the PHP. This is to give the poor a platform to voice their needs and enable participation by the community in decisions that effect their environment. This is in recognition of the need to establish a bottom up approach to designing sustainable and integrated settlements. This mechanism for community participation and administration is seen by us to foster citizenship. Given the political history of SA there is an urgent need to foster an attitude where members of society take ownership and become citizens. The interned students are exposed to the poor as a client, experience that is very lacking in the architectural profession. In our paper we would like to share our experiences in trying to address integrated settlement issues within the PHP framework.
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