Thee lecturers from the University of Cape Town (UCT) are part of Team Mahali, the only team representing sub-Saharan Africa in the international Solar Decathlon competition, which will be held in Morocco next year.
The Solar Decathlon is an international competition to design and build a fully functional, modular, net-zero-energy house that challenges teams to design and build a “green” house of between 55 m2 and 110 m2, powered only by solar energy and equipped with technically advanced building and energy technologies.
This should be done using local ingenuity, craftsmanship and materials.
UCT School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics senior lecturers Mike Louw and Kevin Fellingham, and UCT Department of Civil Engineering Dr Dyllon Randall have been brought on board Team Mahali for their design skills and knowledge of innovative waste-water systems respectively.
Team Mahali is based at Stellenbosch University’s Sustainability Institute.
Commenting on the competition, Louw said that part of the design theme is inspired by the central place of the tree in African culture, which represents a place of meeting, education and important decision-making.
The house, he explained, has been designed for conditions in Morocco, but also for other African contexts, with locally available and recycled materials having been used as far as possible.
The latter area of the structure is being led by former and current students of the UCT Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, and comprises Gordon Rae, Muven Naidoo and Elouise Pretorius, with input from Randall.
Rae, Naidoo and Pretorius are implementing a range of sustainable water practices and technologies in the house, ranging from composting toilets and grey-water systems to advanced water management and monitoring, as well as rainwater harvesting.
The house will be built in Stellenbosch, then dismantled and shipped to Morocco for reassembly on the test sites in Mohammed VI Green City in Benguerir.
During the final phase of the competition, the house will be open to the public.
“We’re merging very high-tech digital design manufacturing with traditional crafting in the making of an identity for the house,” Louw explained.
The design phase of the project is due for completion in mid-November after which the team moves on to completing construction documentation.
Despite Team Mahali having received just over R700 000 in seed funding from the Moroccan government, the team still needs to raise about R3-million and is seeking support from potential funders or retailers that are willing to donate furniture and energy-efficient household appliances.