‘Green Shack’ for South Africa includes vertical vegetable garden
Corrugated iron and timber need not represent poverty and oppression.
By Stephen Lamb and Andrew Lord
Touching the Earth Lightly
To explain the concept, hold in your mind a cube. Like the shack, the cube has six sides. Human-hearted design looks to address the issues of fire, flooding, food security and insulation by exploring design opportunities for each of these six sides.
The first side of the cube is the floor. We raise the shack off the ground to respond to the issue of flooding. Communities around the world have been doing this for thousands of years. This is not a new concept.
The next two sides of the cube represent the sun-facing walls of the shack. On these two sides The Green Shack suggests they be wrapped with a fire-proof boarding, covered by a vertical thriving organic vegetable garden. This wall garden creates food for the household. This wall is drip irrigated using a low tech, slow-release gravity fed system via a pipe made of re-cycled car tires. Rain water is also captured off the roof and stored on site. The slow-drip nature of the irrigation system ensures that the wall is constantly wet.
The vertical food wall is protected from the driving winds by a layer of see-through roof sheeting creating a lockable greenhouse. This also protects the vegetables from livestock and vandalism.
This wet wall also regulates the temperature of the shack and it provides an alternative form of insulation, as opposed highly flammable forms of insulation like paper, cardboard and plastic.
When built at scale, the “wet walls” of organic vegetables and we soil reduce the combustible fuel loading of infromal settlements considerably, by replacing cardboard, paper and plastic with healthy, on-site food.
The roll-out of the Green Shack at scale also present considerable opportunities for the re-introduction of plant life and the creation of “green corridors” with informal settlements. They attract pollinators and insect life. Townships, previously seen only as biodiversity “dead zones” to botanist and conservationists can become “corridors” of biodiversity conservation value.
Moving to the two non-sun facing walls of the shack, the design suggests that we create a double-layer of corrugated iron, filled with sand bags.
On the sixth side of the cube – the design suggests the installing of a ceiling under the roof made from a slightly thicker fire-proof boarding.