moshoeshoe eco village – it’s the real thing

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2008-07-21 12:13

Moments like these make me realise I live in a bubble (this theory isn’t new to me, don’t worry, I’ve not had an epiphany, merely a moment!). Either that, or the Hull Street integrated housing project – a bona fide government eco project that uses all the alternative energy technologies available to us, built as far back as 2003, wasn’t given the press it deserved.

The Hull Street eco village, in the township of Galeshewe in Kimberley took the line ‘people have to live here’ very seriously, when it came to designing a housing project. Okay, it did receive Swedish funding, but this is an incredibly exciting project that could be in practice throughout SA!

Rather than the conventional low-cost housing that we see going up in a matter of moments with little consideration given to the people it will house, this pretty pilot project, also known as the Moshoeshoe village, is a series of colourful double and single storey semi-detached houses.

So, where’s the difference? Well these have central garden areas to encourage vege gardens, there are a variety of housing types, a mixture of business and residential options so that business in the area can grow, and a mixture of black, coloured and white residents.

The project has used a number of alternative technologies - there is

  • grey-water recycling
  • solar water heating (although this is a backup system for some reason)
  • photovoltaics (the idea for the photovoltaics was to create electricity and sell it back to the municipality, but the plan wasn’t accepted (surprise, surprise!)
  • bicycle and pedestrian paths
  • toilets are a dual-type alternative dry-sanitation system that recycles the black wastewater through a filtration process – urine is diverted into water tanks outside the homes, whilst solid waste is turned into compost
  • each unit has a gas stove and energy-efficient light bulbs
  • electricity is thus only used for lighting and appliances like fridges

The project did have a wind turbine, but it has apparently fallen off and is no longer in use.

The houses themselves have been carefully designed too. Each unit has front and back doors, there are windows on the sides of the homes to allow natural lighting and ventilation. They used concrete bricks with either timber or concrete first-floor slabs. Roofs were formed from local pine trusses supporting corrugated-iron roof sheeting, but they did use rhino board ceilings with sisalation insulative material.

There has been overwhelming community support for the pilot project. Why are we surprised, who wouldn’t want to live like this? [more about the project]

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