Two 18 year-old matriculants have developed a new, and improved RDP house that could see a 50% reduction in energy and water use for low-income South Africans. Their project, called the Eco2House is an 18 week exploration into simple, cost effective ways to reduce the energy consumption of RDP structures in order to save those living, and investing in them, the high cost of living.

“We thought that RDP houses were an ideal way to do something related to architecture and that could also have an impact on society,” Josephine Hazard, one half of the duo explained. Hazard and her partner Maylis Pillet, both at the French School in Johannesburg, took up their interest after a holiday architecture internship. “Some of the water re-utilisation technologies are very expensive. We looked at the eco loo, which is way cheaper. What you do is have a basin on top of the cistern. When you wash your hands, the water goes into the cistern and is then used to flush the toilet later.” Hazard said in an interview.

It costs the government about R110 000 to build one RDP house. The construction of the Eco2 House would cost about 12 percent more. Josephine and Maylis believe it would reduce the costs in the long term. The concept would allow saving 25 percent on electricity consumption and 45 percent on water consumption in the long term. From insulating using recycled plastic bottles the girls also recommended that the houses have roof overhangs, solar panels and energy efficient light bulbs. “Most households use up their free basic electricity and free basic water units every month. If they use more than that, they have to pay for the services. “The systems in the house would help them save more,” Hazard said.

Visit ambafrance-rsa.org for more on their inspiring project.