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First fix

A proposal for a competition with the theme ‘First Fix’, this project imagines a scenario in which the city and the community co-operate to alleviate the perennial flows of raw sewerage through Diepsloot’s Reception Area.

The failing sanitation system comprising communal toilets and water points results in 7.2km of daylight sewerage affecting the lives of its approximate 30 000 inhabitants living in informal arrangements. The state is continuously attempting to upgrade (re-instate) this failing system in the face of overpopulation, lack of ownership and continuous informal growth. This scenario forms the basis for an imagined retro-fit in which services are seen as more than utilitarian necessities but as a sites which could support businesses and services currently lacking in the area. The resultant architecture is indeed rudimentary and temporary but takes up practical lessons of place-making and cross programming as well as the micro scale and detail of functional trading and public spaces observed from the immediate surroundings. The provision of dignified basic services is here imagined as sites of enterprise.

Waste provides the raw material for biogas digesters producing a liquid by-product rich in nitrates, which, when filtered through a wetland system, is known to revive river ecologies and improve the water quality. Most Large units are thus located on the river edge and can promote the revitalising of this space as natural amenity. Methane, another by-product, can be used as fuel for public lighting and heating. Hot water can be sold for nominally less than what it costs to heat it with traditional fuels.


Team: Thorsten Deckler & Anne Graupner (principals), Tahira Toffa, Guy Trangos, Shameemah Davids

‘First Fix’- Open Think Box Competition 2009 - 1st prize in professional category