Using key tenets of cohousing and permaculture, we’ve developed a pilot community in Zamani to show one way to create positive change in a township’s development patterns.
Designed by Caddis Architecture and built by Bright Mariko, his crew, and American volunteers, the Zamani microcommunity features four affordable homes and a shared Common House for residents’ use.
The homes are designed based on cohousing principles. Each home faces into the common area. Future residents were involved in the design and construction process. The homes are designed to be quite flexible – they can be expanded and finished on the inside in a number of different ways. The core of each home is built using rammed-earth construction and direct-gain, passive-solar techniques. In fact, the buildings in the Zamani Microcommunity are built using the same methodology and care as the guest house in Memel.
Residents enter the community through the Common House, which includes a kitchen and two bathrooms (with showers) –all of which are fed through harvested rainwater. The waste water is redirected into the food-producing permaculture gardens located between the homes. Power for charging phones and reading lights comes from a small photovoltaic system on the green roof above.
The Zamani microcommunity sets a new paradigm for highly dignified, community-based, sustainable living in the township context. We plan to build more microcommunities in Zamani – and we hope the idea will spread to other South African townships.