6 inspiring African architectural projects that have made the world a greener place

05 November 2016 - 02:00 By Roberta Thatcher
Gorgeous Green House in Durban.
Gorgeous Green House in Durban.
Image: Supplied

These award-winning projects include a chic house that epitomises green living, a 'flat pack' school made of shipping containers and more

Every two years the prestigious AfriSAM-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture and Innovation recognises projects that have put green principles and social change into action and that are helping to lighten our footprint on the earth while improving the lives of the people that use them.

The 2016 winners have just been announced; these 6 projects received the prestigious award.

sub_head_start 1) GORGEOUS GREEN HOUSE sub_head_end

Location: Durban, KwaZulu Natal

Architects: Sagnelli Associate Architects

The ‘poster-child’ for green living, this Durban-North home (pictured above) uses pretty much all the green gadgetry there is on the market. Extensive thought, consideration and research by the homeowners mean the final product includes numerous sustainable features.

The house also boasts an integrated eco-system consisting of beehives, a veggie garden, a worm farm and a natural swimming pool, all of which attract over 40 species of birds, insects and wildlife to the property.

WATCH: Take a 'tour' of Gorgeous Green House's green features

•  READ the owner of Gorgeous Green House's expert tips for designing an eco-friendly home.


sub_head_start 2) DEA BUILDING sub_head_end

Location: Pretoria, Gauteng

Architects: Boogertman+Partners Architects


The Department of Environmental Affairs building leads by example when it comes to eco-friendly design: the project boasts a 6 star green office v1 design rating.

The building hosts an array of sustainable design elements including one the biggest rooftop solar-power plants in the country as well as a rainwater harvesting system part of which forms a massive sculptural feature in the foyer.

WATCH: Take a 'tour' of the DEA Building's green features


sub_head_start 3) OUDEBOSCH CAMP KOGELBERG sub_head_end

Location: Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, Western Cape

Architects: Architecture Co-op


Kogelberg is tucked away in the mountains above Betty’s Bay, within a protected wilderness area in the Kogelberg Biosphere, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This breathtaking biodiversity hotspot, known as ‘The Heart of the Fynbos’, is of extremely high conservation value, thanks to its 1,650 fynbos species.

The Oudebosch Camp, which has been designed for hikers and nature lovers, was an old forestry village that has been transformed into an eco-village, which almost disappears into the landscape.

Complete with roof gardens and rain water harvesting systems that recharge the local springs, it allows the landscape to be more important than the buildings.

WATCH: Take 'tour' of Oudebosch Camp's green features

• FIND OUT what it's like to stay in one of Oudebosch Camp's eco-cabins


sub_head_start 4) OTTO COTTAGE  sub_head_end

Location: Maun, Botswana

Architect: Paul Marais


A nod to natural materials, this small house in Maun, Botswana, is made of rammed earth, timber and locally-harvested reeds, ensuring that it is completely in harmony with the environment, without compromising on style.

By using forms similar to what is prevalent in the area, it draws a deliberate link to these elements, and it points to sustainable future building technology by reinventing traditional building materials.

The house is not connected to either the local electricity grid, or the municipal water and sewerage, making it a 100 percent off-the-grid building.

WATCH: Take a 'tour' of Otto Cottage's green features


sub_head_start 5) BRIDGINGMZAMBA sub_head_end

Location: Mbizana, Eastern Cape

Architects: buildCollectiveNPO with Carinthia University of Applied Science


The community driven project ‘bridgingMzamba’ stemmed from the urgent need for a safe crossing of the Mzamba River, a river that often floods and has claimed many lives in the area.

The result was the creation of a 140-metre long suspension bridge, which was designed to have as little environmental impact as possible.

WATCH: Find out more about the creation of the Mzamba Bridge 


sub_head_start 6) MALAWI SCHOOL sub_head_end

Location: Mchinji, Malawi

Architects: Architecture for a Change


The Malawi School is a ground-breaking project. The idea was to create a 'flat pack' school that could be designed and built by architects in South Africa and then shipped to Malawi to be assembled on site. Not only were the contents of the shipping containers used to build the school, the containers themselves became an integral part of its structure.

The function of the building is not limited to a school, but doubles as a community gathering space where local events are held and revenue is made allowing the school to sustain itself economically.

WATCH: Take a 'tour' of the Malawi School's green features

The book 'Designing for Hope: Pathways to Regenerative Sustainability' by Dominique Hes and Chrisna du Plessis also received a 2016 AfriSAM-SAIA award.