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In 2012, the Western Cape Government launched 110% Green,

Premier hosted Smart Innovation on Tour in July 2013, which showcased green innovations to government and business leaders.

launch of the Better Living Challenge, a design competition that aims to surface innovations, to support the improvement of the living conditions of low-income communities in the Western Cape

The BLC was a recognised project of the World Design Capital (WDC) 2014

The BLC takes place over a five-year period (2013/14 2017/18), with the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI) being implementing agents.


The ObjectiveAimed to facilitate the product to market journeyPromoted alternative solutions Long-term goal of increased choice in the low-income home improvement market

High-level project objectives:

Increased engagement by designers, manufacturers, retailers and others in the development of products, services and systems for the low-income housing market

New/improved products in the market

Increased sales of local products, services and systems

Increased choice of a range of home improvement products, services and systems

The BLC 1 called upon manufacturers, designers, inventors and entrepreneurs to submit new or existing solutions that meet these needs.

The BLC 1 aimed to facilitate the production cycle of these solutions from research and concept stage, to prototype, testing and production, through to marketing and distribution of finished product.


The Winners

The BLC1 stimulated the entry of 130 solutions. Through a selection process guided by 47 experts, these were reduced to 22 finalists and 33 exhibitors for the BLC Showcase held at the Station Forecourt from 28th October to 8th November 2014.

The three winners were chosen through a voting process that included a formal judging panel, facilitated community votes and public votes.

The winners, one in each category, were awarded R500, 000 in support services to help refine their solution and take it to market.

Now in its third year, focus of the BLC 1 is on providing bespoke support to the winners of the first challenge, BLC 1.


Embracing Informality and enabling incrementalism in informal settlements

rapidly growing cities, informal building and incremental construction and expansion of housing pay-as-you-go progress is often the de facto pattern of growth, particularly in low-income areas.

typology -here to stay.

.measures need to be taken to support the incremental improvement of this form.

dire need & large potential market - for innovative, affordable and environmentally conscious interventions that improve the quality of life in this arena.

focus of the Better Living Challenge 2:

a 3-year project aimed at surfacing design innovations (opportunities, ideas and designs) that support the incremental improvement/ expansion of low-income homes;provide better quality and alternative building materials; increase the comfort and quality of life of residents; and enable a more densified urban form.

FundedChallenge approach and methodology -Western Cape Design strategy 4

Challenge rationale


Empathise: look at the issue in a fresh way, gather insights by working with end-users.

Define: make sense of all the possibilities and develop a clear creative brief that frames the design challenge.

Develop/ ideate & test : concepts are created, prototyped, tested and iterated..

Deliver: resulting project (a product, service finalised, produced and launched

Important that its not a top down process, but is rather based on an understanding of needs and desires of residents, and looks at whats already being done by people to improve their homes and make them more comfortable and liveable.

Accordingly we are using a Design thinking methodology based on understanding users needs, co-creating solutions

Proven and repeatable problem-solving protocol that any business or profession can employ to achieve extraordinary results

Approach to problem solving that allows us to combine left brain thinking analytical thinking and right brain creative thinking

Design thinking employsdivergent thinkingas a way to ensure that many possible solutions are ideated and explored in the first instance,

and thenconvergent thinkingas a way to narrow these down to a final solution.


Research StreamsNeeds analysisUpgrading modelsFinancial / affordabilityChallenge model / process

Assist framing BLC2In-depth analysis into how design can be used to improve lives and living conditionsUnderstand users needs Come up with insights deliver a Challenge - based on actual need 6

Research: Needs analysisUnderstanding user insights

WE took an action-research approach. The aim of this approach is to generate knowledge through a snowballing effect of data collection, reflection and iteration.

. by engaging informal sector users, designers and industry (community)

we aimed to design a challenge process that is inclusive and contextually relevant

and surfaces innovations that embrace informality and allow for incremental improvement.


Engagement at a glance1510702515Government DepartmentsDHSDEADPDEDATDOPDPWCOCT


ResidentsMtshini WamFlamingo HeightsMonwabisi ParkPhola ParkKhayelitsha Site B / CSantini, MflueniImizamo YethuSweet Homes FarmPhilippiManenbergIndustry MembersFormal suppliersInformal buildersContractorsArchitectsTradesmen

African Centre for CitiesBertha CentreSustainability InstituteAcademiaIsandlaGreenCapeSLFAfrican Centre Affordable Housing financeResearchersJan-June 2016- 6 months


Those communities we spent the most time in have already been engaged by community based organisations (CBOs)

Only engaged with a limited number of CBOs/ research institutes / Corporates / Industry etc out of the dozens working in human settlements

Extension of the last point...Unpacking and understanding the concept of who is the community is complex

Often a clash between what experts and residents say8

Skills Development & Capacity BuildingSub-themesKey ConceptsDo it yourself home maintenanceProtection from environmental challengesUnique safe & comfortable homeAlternative materials / solutionsContractors Skills beyond building passive design / architecture 101Contracting and entrepreneurial/enterprise skills and supportCommunity leaders / Role of intermediaryContestation between leaders and rest of communityCommunity mobilisation capacityPlace-makingQuality dignified spacesHomes and communities residents feel a part ofLearning about ones home/communityDesigning destinationsCommunity centres/resourcesLivelihood supportBuilding local economiesPermanence & tenureCertificate of residenceUsage rightsFeelings of my home

All of the themes and sub-themes naturally overlap as in any complex system

The 4 over-arching themes:Correct & Accessible Information Skills Development & Capacity BuildingUpgrading Process (know-how / continuum)Place-making is essential

As mentioned in the data analysis, each of the four themes were accompanied:By 3 sub-themes a number of key concepts and supporting quotes

Correct & Accessible InformationSub-themesKey ConceptsAccessible & correct policy informationMistrust of government from confusing/mixed messagesExpectations of getting an RDP houseEntitlement / holding state hostageRules of buildingContractors & TradersContractors need more work opportunitiesLocal material supply chains

Financing optionsAccess to financing optionsInstruments supporting incremental buildingFinancing options that go beyond cashUpgrading ProcessEmphasis on processPreject of project / foster buy-inBottom up approachesContext specific scalable/replicable

Best PracticeCommunity exchanges / horizontal learningShow-case prototypesOptions beyond re-blockingUpgrading ContinuumNo clear beginning and endWhat happens after upgrading? Upgrading roadmap + stakeholders

All of the themes and sub-themes naturally overlap as in any complex system

The 4 over-arching themes:Correct & Accessible Information Skills Development & Capacity BuildingUpgrading Process (know-how / continuum)Place-making is essential

As mentioned in the data analysis, each of the four themes were accompanied:By 3 sub-themes a number of key concepts and supporting quotes

3 11 205+ 25 50 155 + 50Streams Models Projects Countries Paper Practice Experts

1) Paper2) Project3) Place

Research: Upgrading models Highlighting selected & appropriate precedent..Surfacing the outliers.Going beyond the typical precedent.Finding best practice.

WHAT?a focus on models (upgrading, typologies, built forms, participatory planning processes, conceptual approaches etc.) that work (or dont work) and incorporates international and local examples.

WHY?This was intended in order to understand: 1) the different ideas/ conceptual approaches; 2) actual typologies or examples; 3) the different methods employed to implement these

HOW?Focus on the three broad areas of Paper, Practice, and Place, in order to investigate the topic of upgrading (locally and internationally).

But..Surfacing the outliersGoing beyond the typical precedent.Finding best practice.

Critical Question: What do we mean by upgrading?


Upgrading: Models