Areas and Places

Young African professionals win competition to design a future-fit home

The Mahali Hub
The Mahali Hub.

A team of recent graduates and young African professionals from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria have designed the ultimate sustainable home for the future.

Team Mahali was awarded first prize in the City of Cape Town and the Green Building Council South Africa’s (GBCSA) design competition for the ultimate ‘clean green home’ competition.

The My Clean Green Home competition was targeted at students and professionals in the built environment and forms part of the Cape Town Future Energy Festival, a series of virtual event experiences designed to include all Capetonians in the city’s future energy story. The competition’s brief was to design a net-zero carbon home for display and exhibition purposes.

The Mahali Hub will be constructed and displayed as part of the festival finale in early 2021. With the public able to tour the winning entry online, the exhibition will include the full-sized model home, built to operate at net-zero carbon emissions. They will also be able to learn about the possibilities of energy efficient homes.

The City’s Executive Mayor, Alderman Dan Plato says this is a great example of the type of out-of-the-box thinking that the City requires to tackle the future climate challenges and opportunities.

Our city and our sister-cities across the continent need greater design solutions and innovation to ensure that we all become more sustainable and resilient”.

The City is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050 and it has committed to all new buildings in Cape Town to be net-zero carbon by 2030. While net-zero carbon homes are seemingly challenging to create, the aim of this competition is to showcase the technologies and building techniques that already exist” comments Alderman Plato.

Team Mahali’s design for the My Clean Green Home is a modular ‘house in a box’ covered by an overarching tree-like structure made from upcycled and locally available materials. The design incorporates rainwater harvesting, solar power generation, passive cooling, and an edible food garden. Well done to Team Mahali and the other twelve entrants”.

We are all part of our energy, water, and waste targets and when we all reduce our consumption in our homes, the overall reductions are significant” commented Lisa Reynolds, CEO of GBCSA.

The brief for the competition was to design a net-zero carbon home for display and exhibition purposes, a home that people can start to understand and visualise the reality of living in a net zero carbon home. The GBCSA defines a net-zero carbon building as ‘a building that is highly energy-efficient, and the remaining energy use is from renewable energy, preferably on-site but also off-site where absolutely necessary, so that there are zero net carbon emissions on an annual basis’”.

The entrants went beyond net-zero carbon and included resource efficiency. Many designs had water saving, waste reduction and social aspects included” she said.

The calibre of submissions made reaching a final decision on a winning design difficult for the judging panel. The criteria used for identifying the winner included passive and active energy efficiency, renewable energy, thermal comfort, materials, ease of construction and overall design. Budget and internal space were key constraints.

The competition received thirteen innovative design entries. Each submission brought their ambitious interpretation of the brief and showed great creativity. The pool of entries spanned students and professionals and we feel the initiative will have a lasting impact on future design projects” said Manfred Braune on behalf of the judges.

From the entries received, it was highly evident that South Africans are exploring new, innovative ways of designing homes. The entries displayed incredibly thoughtful, creative sustainable designs and as judges, we were thoroughly impressed”.

From left to right: Yumna Parker, Abiola Kehinde, Ilyaas Ravat, Sharné Bloem, Shawn Alimohammadi, Wimbayi Kadzere, Mayor Plato, Vikash Parbhoo, Argon Poorun and Natheera Ravat.

In 2019, Team Mahali was awarded second place for architecture and design at Solar Decathlon in Morocco, an international design competition challenging university students to integrate renewable energy and architecture.

The design is inspired by the typical African tradition of community formal and informal gatherings under an expansive tree canopy. The design tries to recreate the communal space by creating a courtyard-like space between two more private spaces for sleeping and living,” said Team Mahali team leader, Sharné Bloem.

Runner up 2AD Space also had a great proposal with a small, high density unit that made use of an extensive roof area to take advantage of solar energy. The second runner up was Team Panache, with a well-conceptualised layout that integrates sustainability features.