Architecture For a Change: Off-Grid Prefab Pod in Africa

In a rural area of South Africa, where most settlements are outside the transmission grid and urban infrastructure, many people live in shacks. Johannesburg-based firm Architecture for a Change (AFAC) aims to elevate those living conditions with a prefabricated, off-grid pod that can fit two bunk beds. These particular pods were made to house members of a soccer club.

The pods are flat-packed, shipped to the community in need, and assembled by three people in less than a day. The slanted metal roof enables water collection, which is contained in 264-gallon tanks connected to the pods, and the home is lifted off the ground to avoid flooding.The ‘Mamelodi Pod’ could provide affordable housing in the 2,700 informal settlements with millions of inhabitants living in substandard conditions.

It’s made of galvanized tin sheets with a layer of highly reflective foil, thermal insulation and internal plywood panels, which  help the structure stay cool in the hot sun, but warm at night, when temperatures can drop quickly. A skylight offers natural lighting during the day, and a rooftop solar panel powers the lights and a 12-volt charger at night. The home also has a solar cooker.

The prototype structure only cost about $4,500 to complete, and once it’s in production, costs will likely get lower, making it a real possibility for healthy and sustainable living.

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