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Transforming the affordable housing landscape brick by brick

As government's belief in the benefits of clay brick construction for affordable housing becomes increasingly more evident, Corobrik's support for this new direction was cemented with the donation of two homes to disadvantaged women from the informal settlement of Lindelani outside Galeshewe in Kimberley.

Domestic worker, Annie Motlhodiemang (53) and Moseki Shenovia, representing a child headed household were among 76 indigent families to receive the keys to their new homes at an official handover ceremony in the first phase of the Lindelani Youth Build Project, an initiative launched by Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Youth Day, 16 June, last year.

Corobrik is supplying face bricks for 500 homes for the project, each 42 square metres in size, which will see the 14-year old informal settlement transformed into a suburb.

More than 90 youth volunteers from the area are involved in the initiative which is a three-way partnership between the national Department of Human Settlements, the provincial department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs and the local municipality.
The move to clay brick construction for affordable housing comes off the back of a growing body of evidence that this building material is affordable for sustainable, subsidy housing because of its manifold benefits.

Clay bricks have proved their value over the years, said Musa Shangase, Corobrik's Commercial Director. Their durability, pleasing natural colour, and low maintenance properties are complemented by their thermal efficiency which contributes to improved indoor comfort in all temperatures and lower energy costs throughout the life of the building.

It is also an uplifting lifestyle statement for the residents of Lindelani, Shangase said. Clay brick is universally acknowledged as an aspirational product which evokes unconscious feelings of comfort, satisfaction and wellbeing for home owners. They know there is no finer way to build, so clay brick construction is an enlightened choice for addressing past inequalities and providing dignity and status to house owners and the community in general.

Shangase said that it was evident that house owners cared that their new homes were of good quality and attractive in appearance thanks to the natural colour of the face brick. They were also grateful that they would never have to spend money on painting the outside walls and that they would save on energy costs.

The robustness and natural thermal performance properties of fired clay bricks, together with the noise and fire resistance qualities of clay brick walls also provide safety and security for the occupants and their possessions, he said.

The Breaking New Grounds (BNG) homes, the new term for RDP housing, are being constructed using Corobrik's Nebraska Travertine Light clay bricks with double skin brickwork.
"The high thermal mass inherent in double skin clay brick cavity walls helps keep the inside of the homes cool in summer and warm in winter, and important factor in the Northern Cape with its widely fluctuating temperatures", Shangase said.

The two recipients of the donated Corobrik houses were overcome when they learned of their good fortune.

"Life has changed for me, my two children and my grandchild", said Annie Motlhodiemang who was born in Galeshewe and moved to Lindelani in 2000 to seek shelter for herself and her family. My shack has often been blown away by strong winds in the past 14 years. I am so happy we have now have our own properly built brick house.

Martha Moses (56), the delighted new owner of the second Corobrik-sponsored house said, Having our own brick home means so much to us. We are proud to be living in a house like this which looks smart and which is safe and comfortable.

"Government is aware that a double skinned face brick home successfully meets the three sustainable development requirements namely economic, social and environmental", Shangase said.

In economic terms, it provides a competitive built cost with low lifecycle costs, proven durability and longevity. Face brick also holds its value and provides a secure long-term investment.
From a social viewpoint, aside from providing robustness and safety, face brick is synonymous with dignified living, meeting people's aspirations to live in proper houses.

Its intrinsic environmental advantages include its capacity for reuse, its healthy living attributes, its promise of low future carbon debt and superior thermal performance, lowering the operational energy usage of buildings.

This is why they have chosen face brick for the Lindelani homes as a means of uplifting the informal settlement, Shangase said. We believe this project has provided a benchmark against which future BNG housing will be measured.