Work on the first phase of the project, which started a few years ago and then stopped, restarted in June and should be completed by the end of this month.
An eco-village combines African indigenous technologies and cultural practices with western technologies to create a vibrant local economy which has sustainable development as its main principle.
It aims to supply most of its needs for water, food, energy, wastewater treatment, refuse recycling and even infrastructure, but still pay rates to the local authority. The Ivory Park eco-village was modelled on the Beddington Zero (fossil) Energy Development (Bedzed) in London, which generates its own energy from renewable sources and helps residents reduce their ecological footprint.
The Ivory Park eco-village – the first to be built in South Africa – has now been twinned with Bedzed, developed by BioRegional UK, Bill Dunster Architects, Arup Engineers UK, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Peabody Trust.
The City of Joburg suports the concept as a new way of planning development and has donated the land for the project. Through a poverty alleviation grant, accessed from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, finances (R2-million) have been found to complete the business phase of the eco-village. Additional funds were sourced through the climate change programme also of the department and USAID.
The architectural and ventilation design of the Ivory Park project was undertaken by Era Architects, while the engineering and structural designs were produced by Arup South Africa, which is also responsible for project implementation.
"The engineering design was undertaken by Adrian Campbell, of our Cape Town office," says Dev Devan, a project manager at Arup South Africa. The WWF is also involved in the South African project.
Devan says that Arup and the other organisations providing materials and services to the project are doing so free of charge. "Arup is also working on other eco-village projects in this country, and is facing similar challenges of achieving much sustainable development," says Devan. Dr Frederic Rogemont, the MD of Lafarge South Africa says "this projects fits in well with the Lafarge tradition of supporting sustainable social upliftment schemes".
He adds that Lafarge, which in June donated R1-million-worth of building materials for the Habitat housing project in Durban, may continue to support the eco-village, "but now on a basis which is not charity".
The first phase of the Ivory Park project comprises core-infrastructure buildings, including a dome-roofed cr