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Research at the UFS on the acceptability and modern use of earth building in newly settled urban areas can help the poorest of the poor to acquire hou
2003-08-26

The University of the Free State and the Technische Universiteit van Eindhoven in the Netherlands received a research bursary of R316 000 from SANPAD (South African Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development).

The aim of the research is to determine the public acceptability of sustainable, high quality, earth constructed public and private buildings as an alternative to the conventional way of building with bricks and steel.

“European countries like the Netherlands are far advanced with studies in earth construction and this is why the partnership was formed with the Technische Universiteit van Eindhoven,” says Prof Das Steÿn, Head of Urban and Regional Planning at the UFS and project leader.

Although research regarding mapping, typology and availability of natural and local resources has been done on a national level, little research has been done on the acceptability and the modern use of earth building in newly settled urban areas.

“South Africa has a large housing shortage and traditional methods such as earth building techniques are not used in urban informal housing. Preference is given to corrugated iron sheets and plastic,” says Prof Steÿn.

The use of upgraded earth construction might be more sustainable as far as the environment and the economy is concerned. “If we can make a breakthrough in the development and propagating of these methods it will help the poorest of the poor to acquire housing of a better quality.”

The research team from the UFS consists of Prof Steÿn, Ms Petria Jooste-Smit, Head of the Unit for Earth Construction in the Department of Architecture and Mr Gerhard Bosman of the Department of Architecture.
 

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