Sand-bag houses by MMA Architects 2


Design Indaba 08: the first sand-bag house designed by Cape Town architects MMA is taking shape (see earlier post).

The house, which has a total budget of just 65,000 Rand (£4,300/$8,600), is one of ten houses being built to house former shack dwellers.

The house is part of the 10x10 Housing Project initiated by Design Indaba, the Cape Town design conference and fair, which is taking place this week.

10x10 aims to develop new affordable housing typologies by pairing international designers with South African architects.

A total of 100 houses by ten different design teams will be built at Freedom Park in Cape Town.

Women from Freedom Park are building the houses.

See our earlier story for more info on the sand-bag houses.

Posted on Wednesday February 27th 2008 at 9:41 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • fran

    me quedan algunas dudas sobre la solidez del sistema constructivo, sobre todo porque no veo ningun soporte lateral (no sé si luego se le añadirá) en las paredes de sacos, esto porque si alguna persona tropieza y se apoya en dicho muro, o con alguna presión eólica muy fuerte; podría causar movimientos en ellas.

    Un saludo por la buena arq.

  • roadkill

    why post this twice… its like architectural spamming…

  • jek

    surely nice to see actual work in progress during Design Indaba isn’t it? I am enjoying the development of this…

  • Noviardi

    This is very interesting ,..I’m looking forward for next step

  • Arch

    Where are the men?

  • marlene

    Great work. I am in the affordable arena and would look at their designs.

  • Bruce Demchek

    I see the women working. Where are the men? The answer is : the men are sitting in an internet cafe trying to scam the western world. Instead of building these people houses, you should be sterilizing them. In a generation or two the surplus population will come down.

    • World_Guru

      oh Mr Demcheck…
      your level of consciousness is a very poor one i am afraid. Women are the real 'architects' in this material world. Aren't they the ones that stay with the kids when men decide to leave? aren't they the 'columns' of entire families around the world when men decide to just take care of themselves instead of the families they created? last but not least, all those men 'sitting at internet cafes' may belong to Nigeria, not South Africa so a little more imagination and geography may come handy too.

  • JBearn

    @ Bruce Demcheck

    Wow, just wow. I can’t believe people actually think such horrible things about their fellow humans. Way to stereotype AND be racist all at the same time.

  • rami

    Bruce D.,
    I am amazed you dare to show your name. You are such an ignorant person! Shame on you for being so closed-minded and racist! Show a little heart and joy in the fact that the architects came up with an inexpensive and genious way to help the less fortunate.

  • b-rasch

    Everyone has an opinion. The culture is that women work the hard labor of the land…and they are proud to do it. They know nothing else. I wouldn’t be so quick to judge, you might not be so lucky to have something like this with our economy. The progress is great!

  • s.rube

    The bags are good. Nice use of local material. Good thermal mass, fire control, can stop bullets etc. It would be better to use a steel tube columns with a beam on top for roof load. The wood in that application is not great. Wrap wires around column to tie your mesh that gets plastered to. Also bring wires between sand bags to help hold and straighten mesh. The sand bags should kind conform abit around a 4 to 5 inch column. Just my two cents. Have fun !

  • humanspirit

    If you lived in the conditions these people do, you’d realize it’s not about gender “roles” it is about survival. They have no option of calling off sick, or taking a personal day. They wake up every day wondering if they can get food for themselves and/or their family. There is no neighborhood grocery store, no car/motorcycle they walk everywhere, including their job, if they can get one. Go to Cape Town and walk less than 1 mile out of town–then you can comment on the condition and “population” of South Africa. You will be ashamed.

  • guillermo

    There is not need for bagging sand, what you spend for thousand bags to build a house; just nail or screw plywood or rock board ( permabase) on both sides of the frame as you go up 4 ft. high at a time and fill the space between vertical frames, not need for wire mesh, the perma base or rock board are easy to stucco it with mortar or just fill the seams, a good coat of exterior latex paint will be the final touch . Sand fill will settle as it is poured in with shovel or by a small machine like a small loader or bob cat.
    the perma base or rock board can be used for roofing also.
    For more info, get in touch
    good luck

  • poet

    I hope to see a follow up article about these homes after a year or two passes, it would be nice to think the families given the homes will care for them and possibly improve them. I do hope the best for them and kudos to the volounteers for trying. I cant help thinking (due to my experiance with volunteering) if its anything like habitat for humanity in the U.S they probably will have a a car on blocks and a babies daddy drinking a beer in the front yard by next year

  • The original article was lacking in visuals and also depth….Sandbags, yes but filled with what….So it was sand…..Is there no adobe possibility in Capetown?
    Altho they are a flimsy design i would prefer the straw bale house or the adobe for sheer economy. of course it depends if the bags, filled with sand? (sand bag as a generic term) are serviced from a nearby source to make it
    truly practical, but not so ecological plundering sand from beaches?
    Nevertheless, the fact that housing is being designed for the poor in Capetown is very laudable.

  • Cazola

    @Patricia – sand means sand. The Cape Flats are sand, not from the beach but from Table Mountain sandstone. The sandy soil is the reason it’s so hard to grown anything there unless you do trench gardening adn basically recreate real soil. So no shortage of sand. Ecobeams are a lot faster than adobe – but there are people doing cobbing and probably adobe too. I’m planning to set up a website cataloguing them soon. Or maybe not so soon – it takes time!

    @Guillermo, the advantage with sandbags (as opposed to boards, etc) is that you can transport a few hundred empty sandbags easily in an ordinary car, whereas most people wouldn’t be able to transport boards. Getting the ecobeams themselves there is enough of a challenge – i tmay be possible to construct them on site from the wood and galvanised steel strips. (We try to avoid mortar too – stick to mud.)
    I do admit to having reservations about nylon bags – what happens to them when the building is broken down or abandoned? Will they eventually be a danger to animals/sea creatures?

    @s.rube: re steel tubes: wood is cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Steel production takes a huge amount of energy. But thanks for all teh sugegstions – I will give them all some thought (even those I’ve ‘refuted’ here) when I build my ecobeam house this year.

  • medea

    this type of construction exists in northern mexico at a shelter for abandoned handicapped children. the entire complex is built like this and the structures seem very solid. walls are thicker than regular adobe walls and they seem very thermal. is the website of this non for profit organization. every aspect of the complex is geared towards a “green” purpose