A partnership between different non-profit organizations : SAGA collective is a group of five young architects who want to practice and share their knowledge with people in need. We want to create while involving communities. Our objectives tend to develop interactive process, which deal with the construction environment. In February Saga flew to Port Elizabeth, South Africa. There we collaborated with different organizations that already had root in a local impoverished community, Joe Slovo. These organizations include: Love Story; an NGO that works towards social development in impoverished communities and Indalo; the brainchild of Alliance Française of Port Elizabeth which aims to use architecture as an agent of social change. The project had already begun and consists of developing four community buildings around an existing crèche.
Joe Slovo, a unique contexte : Joe Slovo is located on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth and is known as a township which is an informal area and that was developed during Apartheid to host mostly poor black and coloured communities. It is not a dense area and usually develops rapidly with no real planning. Usually the municipality gives a plot to the family for free and they have free range to build what they like as long as they respect the property limits. Access to water and electricity is limited which makes the living conditions harsh.
How do we do more with less? : 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 ef cient building techniques.
Knowledge sharing : The second 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 a few 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.