Platforms to bring dignity to township open spaces

22 August 2012 | Story by Newsroom

A new standard for washing platforms in townships was established recently when second-year architecture students from UCT erected a platform in the Imizamo Yethu township in Hout Bay.

UCT architectural students lalela art project
Making a difference: UCT architectural students in the process of constructing washing platforms for residents of Imizamo Yethu. New look: The mosaic paving made by learners taking part in the Lalela art project. The incorporation of this feature worked so well that it expected to form part of all future platform projects.

The platform is the third now to be found in the Hout Bay community. It is, however, the first to sport aesthetic features such as mosaic paving and concrete blocks containing old wine bottles.

The aim for these UCT-designed washing platforms is to provide "more dignified places for water collection, spaces for the washing of clothes and the integration of these with shared toilet facilities where these are in close proximity", says Mike Louw, one of the UCT staff members currently running the project.

It was an A-Z exercise for the UCT students. Assisted by six community members, they dug the trenches, cast the foundations and constructed the pre-cast concrete components. The design of the platform and its parts form part of their course curriculum.

This community project was initiated in 2010 by Cape Town architect, Luis Mira, and it is currently run by John Coetzee, Kevin Fellingham, Louw, and Shafiek Matthews from UCT the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics. This is the second time that architectural students have been involved with the project.

The plan is to, with the help of private sector partners, build a total of eight platforms in Imizamo Yethu over a period of eight years. Similar plans are also afoot for a platform in Khayelitsha.

Community involvement is an essential part of this project. In addition to the community members who lent a hand with the building, the mosaics provided an outlet for the creativity of local learners as part of the Lalela art project.

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