Innovative ways to build homes

Private Property South Africa
Cath Jenkin

What will our homes look like in the future? Well, the future is now! We look at innovative building solutions from around the world.

Globally, the way we build homes for people is changing. The typical brick and mortar manner is moving aside, making space for innovation and opportunity. Shipping containers are being modified to create great living and suburban spaces, and new technologies are being adopted to inspire and grow the market for unusual, yet elegant, housing options.

Environmentally friendly
In large-scale estates, the push for creating eco-friendly housing and sustainable living environments that embrace nature, rather than destroy it to make way for human spaces continues. More and more property developers, under the guidance of institutions like Green Building South Africa, are keenly focused on creating places to live and work that respond to nature, rather than seek to ignore it. The way we build homes is changing too, with the materials used for construction now more commonly sourced and manufactured in more eco-friendly ways.

Unique solutions to overcrowding
In Hong Kong – a city famous for its urban overcrowding, the OPod tubular housing project is looking towards re-purposing concrete pipes and turning them into smartphone-driven urban homes that easily slot into small spaces. It’s an inexpensive, space-conscious way of creating homely, yet urban chic, homes.

Recycled items made good
Plastic bottles are taking on a new purpose too, as the manufacturing of ecobricks inspires many of us to think a little differently, before disposing of them. Using an empty, clean 2-litre plastic bottle, you can make your own ecobricks too! Simply take clean, dry household waste and twist it into the 2-litre bottle, compacting the waste as you go. Once you’ve filled the bottle entirely and it can no longer be squashed in any way, well done! You’ve made your first ecobrick. You’re making good use of household waste and creating something useful for building homes. If you don’t have plans to build something with your ecobricks, then find a local drop-off point nearby to your neighbourhood. Ecobricks are being used to build homes in under-resourced communities across South Africa.

Steel frame building
And, in South Africa, innovation is driving people eager to build new homes towards finding unique ways to construct and maintain their properties. Steel frame building is a cost-effective, energy-efficient way to build, and is quickly proving its mettle across the country. Steel frame buildings are pest-resistant and are a low-wastage construction option. Ryan Minietti, Managing Director at Steel Frame Developments, tells us that there is a growing interest in steel frame building: “There are some willing to step out of the mould and prefer a lighter and faster way to build. We’re excited to see interest in steel frame building, and recently completed construction on a 8000sqm accommodation project in Creighton, and are currently hard at work in Pietermaritzburg, building a 7000sqm set of high-end office blocks.”

3D printed homes
The next revolution in building homes has already begun. You might have bought a 3D printer for your home, but that very device could end up being the catalyst for building your new home. In the Netherlands, a commercial housing project that will 3D print concrete parts for homes is set to get underway soon. Similarly, in El Salvador, the construction of an entire community of suburban homes has been planned, with the focus of that project resting on creating safe, low-cost housing options.

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