Joe Slovo West is a fast developing informal area on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth. It’s an area in transience – with temporary structures systematically making way for RDP developments. Since government developments are not keeping up with the local community’s needs, many residents have stepped up to improve their often precarious life conditions themselves. It is here where Patricia Piyani started Silindokuhle Preschool – a safe haven for neighbourhood kids while their parents are at work in the city.

Building in informal settlements poses many challenges such as goods access, lack of amenities and service delivery and out of step town planning. Rising to this challenge is French architecture collective saga, who has been working with Joe Slovo West residents since 2015. Their design for Silindokuhle Preschool was negotiated collectively. The project was preceded by a three month field study followed by process of participation with members of the local community.

To lower building costs, a network of companies was co-opted to collect industrial waste to be reworked in an or on site workshop. Materials and objects that went into the construction and furbishment of the building were collected from all over the city – many of it repurposed or reclaimed. This approach demanded an incremental process in which every step of the building’s design was based on experimentation. The final result is that of collective effort and a building that speaks to its environment and manifests a strong sense of place.

Read more about saga and this special building here.

Sustainable Design

All images courtesy of saga