For those who aren’t familiar with South Africa’s informal settlements, it is estimated that seven million South Africans live in shacks in the country’s many “squatter camps” located around all major cities.
These shacks are made out of corrugated metal and scraps that make homes uncomfortably hot in summer and icy cold in winter. Many of these informal settlements and their inhabitants are located illegally and while efforts are being made by the government to provide formal housing, shacks are likely to be part of the South African landscape for the foreseeable future.
The iShack, abbreviated from improved shack, is the proposed answer to this problem. While it does not replace the need for formal housing and electricity, it offers renewable energy solutions and is designed to improve living conditions. It is posed as a temporary solution and simply offers slum dwellers a more comfortable shack experience while they wait for formal housing.
The idea was first developed by Professor Mark Swilling, an academic director at the Sustainability Institute (SI), and Andreas Keller, a sustainable development student at Stellenbosch University who researched the iShack concept for his master’s thesis.