The Shack - planning contributions for life in an informal neighbourhood

  Map Copyright: © R. Breuer

More than two billion people worldwide face similar daily challenges of living in economic poverty. These challenges include, in particular, dealing with a lack of basic housing infrastructure, inadequate nutrition, crime, limited space, and natural disasters that threaten the security of their homes. The slums where such living in poverty occurs are growing exponentially each year. Solutions often fail by insufficient financial resources and lack of knowledge. 



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"90% of the worlds designers spend all their time addressing the problems of the richest 10% of the worlds customers" (Paul Polak)

The research project "The Shack" aims to bring about a shift in perspective. Using the example of the townships in Cape Town, South Africa, we look at the problems, but also develop ideas and simple solutions that could improve housing situation in the informal neighborhoods easier. In doing so, we will first address the following issues and aspects:

- The spatial and social segregation as a consequence of apartheid in Cape Town.

- The urban structures of the townships and informal quarters.

- The housing and living conditions in the townships and the importance of living in an informal hut called a "shack".

The existing cooperation with Marlene Lerch from the Berlin initiative "Hack your Shack" (, which started in June 23 with a typical township shack as a pilot project on the Aachen Büchel, will be continued. As part of an impromptu design, ideas for floor coverings, furniture and hot water supply that can be implemented easily were developed, which are then processed as self-assembly instructions for the township community.

In the current semester, our focus lies on the open space. We want to capture the potential of the limited but existing outdoor space around the shack and develop ideas for safety, isolation and productive greening. The cooperation with "Hack your Shack" also enables direct contact with Chris Sambo from Lwandle, a small township in Cape Town. This contact gives us insights into the real situation on site and support us in generation of ideas and concepts.

Design Objective:
The aim of the research module is to develop and test applicable solutions for life in the townships of Cape Town and to implement them in the form of simple and smart prototypes. It is not only about the development of objects, but also about a planning contribution "for the other 90%", which also takes social and cultural levels into account.


First Session: October 12, 2023 | 10:00 am

Exam Date: February 22, 2024 | 10:00 am - 12:30 pm