A Khayelitsha-based Urban Think-Tank project called Empower Shack has been long-listed for the 2018 Royal Institute of British Architects International Prize, which will be announced in December. Empower Shack aims to influence a new direction in housing policy and offers much needed diversity and access to housing for the gap market.

In South Africa, approximately 7.5 million people are locked out of the formal property market because of limited access to financing, inflexible land regulations and escalating property prices. As a result, an estimated 2,700 settlements across the country create poverty traps that threaten social mobility due to inadequate housing quality and lack of basic infrastructure and services.

Small scale civil society driven informal settlement upgrade schemes fail to address both the scale of the problem and integration into formal planning frameworks. In addition, current government-issue social housing schemes fail to meet both increasing demand and to cater for diversity of end-user requirements. While alternative housing schemes have become available over the years, the challenge still lies in developing a scalable, transparent and replicable model that addresses both real demand, market dynamics and municipal planning objectives.

The goal of the project is to reshape the approach to informal settlements by offering:
1. An innovative and inclusive methodology for the fair distribution of public space
2. Delivery of basic services
3. An urbanisation scheme that combines housing upgrades with a safer urban environment and new economic and social possibilities.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.bizcommunity.com and http://u-tt.com/ for some of the information in this article.

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