The Empower Shack


The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) International Prize is one of architecture’s most prestigious awards.

The Empower Shack, developed by a group of local and international architects who joined forces in 2013, has now been shortlisted for the coveted prize.

The low-cost home, built in the Western Cape township of Khayelitsha, could be the answer to South Africa’s ongoing housing crisis.

Its longevity lies in the clever use of sustainable and affordable materials such as corrugated iron sheeting, steel windows, plywood and hollow-core bricks to create a double-storey structure.

Sponsored by The Swiss Re Foundation and designed by local firm Design Space Africa, their long-term goals are to “influence a new direction in housing policy and offer much needed diversity and access to housing for the gap market”.

The 2018 RIBA International Prize is awarded to a building which exemplifies design excellence, architectural ambition and delivers meaningful social impact.

The Empower Shack finds itself amongst stiff competition, and fellow nominees include the Bremer Landesbank Headquarters in Bremen, Germany, and the Wadden Sea Centre in Ribe, Denmark.

But another feather in South Africa’s cap is the inclusion of our very own Zeitz MOCAA museum on the shortlist.

Khayelitsha is an informal township located on the Cape Flats.

Photograph Wikimedia Commons

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