Hennie Botes Emily Ahearn 1999

Hennie Botes -  Interview - Emily Ahearn 1999 

Emily Ahearn SP.746 March 31, 1999 - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

New Building Materials Provide Low Cost Housing in South Africa Affordable housing is coming to South Africa in the form of a new building technology created by Moladi Construction Technology. The technique was developed by Hennie Botes, founder of the South Africa-based company. The process starts with an injection molded plastic formwork used to construct walls. The large, wall-sized sheets can be arranged to form a house of any size and design desired. The formwork is then filled with a mixture of local river sand, cement, water, and a harmless admixture. When the plastic formwork is removed, the walls can be painted and a roof erected to complete the house, the entire process taking only a matter of days. "Traditional building methods cannot possibly hope to meet the demand [for low cost housing] promptly without forfeiting quality and standards, even if the necessary skills and materials were freely available," stated a representative for the company. The houses constructed with the Moladi technique are inexpensive, costing about 30% less than similar structures built using the traditional brick and mortar method, yet manage to avoid all of the typical problems one encounters with low cost housing. These houses constructed are durable, waterproof, and provide excellent thermal and sound insulation, the company says. Moladi's scheme also uses resources that are readily available to people in virtually any part of South Africa. In addition, houses built using the Moladi technology do not require skilled craftsmen for construction.

The company, founded in 1985, says materials used in its construction operations are not harmful to the environment. Moladi also claims to have created jobs for dozens of unskilled townspeople in each of the communities where it has established itself.

The Moladi Method comes at a crucial time for South Africa. With the abolition of apartheid, large numbers of black South Africans were plagued with homelessness. Policies that controlled migration and urban residency rights for blacks forced many to live in rural areas up until the late 1980s. The problem was that when the black people were suddenly free to move to urban areas there was no housing available for them. Lack of money and a shortage of construction companies to build affordable housing were contributing factors in the deficit of low cost housing. In addition, a shortage of resources prevented the South Africans from building new houses. There was also the problem of scarcity of lumber resulting from deforestation, as well as difficulties in transporting building supplies to a given area. A third cause for the lack of low cost housing was the dearth of skilled craftsmen. Without experienced builders, the houses would be shoddily constructed and would be susceptible to many problems such as leaking roofs and poor insulation. A final problem was a lack of time. Housing was needed immediately, and without supplies and skilled builders available, nothing could be built.

Moladi Building Technology, however, claims that its novel construction method can remedy all of the typical problems associated with low cost housing. Botes sees this as extremely important and states: We see the provision of housing as a human right and not a privilege. Health and welfare, the sense of dignity, security, motivation and empowerment that go hand in hand with owning one's own home is further extended by the employment opportunities afforded by the technology. In this scheme, the community also actively participates in the upliftment of their environment. This novel construction technique has thus far proved to be a viable solution to the problem of widespread homelessness in South Africa. With Moladi Building Technology stationed in locations throughout South Africa and now spreading to other parts of the world, there seems to be great hope for those who can't afford traditional housing. Works Cited Botes, Hennie. Moladi Construction Technology. Personal Interview. 30 April 1999.

Thank you Emily


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