Monwabisi Park is an informal settlement in the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, densely populated with a total of approximately 15,000 residents. The infrastructure such as water and electricity is minimal in the neighbourhood. The building’s commission required a volume that would be fire- and bullet-proof, providing grass-roots educational, skill and health facilities.
The reconstruction of the Indluvo Centre began in 2009 when Architects Without Frontiers went to assess the community’s needs. They worked with Zvi Belling and Lani Fender to design the project pro-bono to ensure the community had the facility they needed. The project consists of two, two-story buildings to house learning centre, clinic, soup kitchen, neighbourhood lookout, administration facilities and guest house. In addition, the new facility also needed to be built by local inhabitants and be fire-proof and bullet proof.
To meet the needs of the community, the design team settled on using the low-tech sandbag and Ecobeam truss system. This way, they could hire unskilled local workers and utilize locally sourced sand. Ecobeam’s prefab truss system is simple to assemble and the sandbags serve as sturdy walls that provide excellent thermal mass and insulation. The exterior is covered with wire and plaster and was painted in bright colours.