Ikhayalami Empowershack Nominated For Prestigious Royal Institute Of British Architects Prize Back To News

Ikhayalami Empowershack nominated for prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects Prize

Ikhayalami's Empowershack has been nominated for the Royal Institute for Architects Prize - one of architects most prestigeous awards. This is very exciting, humbling and extremely significant. It means that on the global stage our work has been recognised for being relevant, being innovative and smart in design, making a difference in people's lives, responding to the vast complexities of urbanisation,  

In 2012 Ikhayalami's innovative work on spatial reconfiguration of informal settlements linked to the design of an upgraded shack caught the attention of ETHZ Urban Think Tank. In 2013 Ikhayalami and ETHZ set up a collective to co-design a double story prototype for informal settlement upgrading. Throgh Ikhayalami's work and vision this was extended to incorporate the upgrading and reconfiguraton of an entire settlement in Khayeltisha called BT Section comprising 72 households. 

The design has gone through numerous iterations having had to respond to the needs and aspirations of the community and government while taking heed of affordability as far as possible. Initially the design was based on the idea of an Ikhayalami shack upgrade using galvanised zinc and timber but going vertical. A key design shift came when the City of Cape Town made strong recommedations for block walls as fire breaks. Another turning point in the design was when the community insisted that each double story house a single family as they were averse to apartment type dwellings. The third critical path came as a result of having to respond to policy directives in terms of plot sizes and number of dwellings per plot. The idea of keeping the facades in zinc was one that Ikhayalami motivated indicating it's incremental nature, cost saving and that it straddled both the formal and informal worlds creating a link and an ambiguity. The most recent design shift was moving from a timber first floor to a concrete one - this has been done as part of our intention to create a policy shift for further sub-division. 

All in all a long process with many changes and endless challenges but a project well worth doing and one with imense potential and prostpects for replication. 

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