The President's Award

The South African Institute of Architects President's Award recognises work from across the entire profession for the contribution architecture makes to the development of a sustainable built environment and the societies which it serves.

Elangeni Social Housing Project became the first inner city housing project to attact a commercial bank loan in South Africa, paving the way for other social housing companies to attract private public partnership funding.

Savage and Dodd Architects

"Elangeni Social Project is located in the inner city of Johannesburg. The Project developed by the Johannesburg Housing Company is located in Albert Street, formerly associated with the notorious Albert Street Pass Office during the apartheid era. The context demanded a 'city building', relating to the scale of the city while defining a 'neighbourhood' precinct. It is a mixed-use housing scheme consisting of 168 units with one-bedroom (35 square metres) and two-bedroom (59 square metres) units, including live/work units, loft units and a corner retail unit.

Elangeni is designed as a four-storey, walk-up perimeter block with an inner parking courtyard providing a defensible inner environment. Street level housing is created on three sides with a set back to the road edge, the fourth street is treated as a built edge with a retail live/work condition responding to a busy connector road. The total number of units provided is a careful balance between parking requirements and the need to maximise the amenity of open space for planting and play areas.

Elangeni was the first inner city housing project to attract a commercial bank loan in South Africa. This paved the way for other social housing attracting public partnership funding." (Savage and Dodd Architects)

The issue of low-cost and affordable housing in South Africa is fraught with a number of issues. Many are of the opinion the not much progress has been made since 1994 and that we have been reproducing the old apartheid type housing. A lot of it remains contractor/developer driven instead of design and needs driven. Government policy has changed, but implementation is still problematic. The delivery of inner city affordable or rental housing remains very much a different goal.

In the light of the above, the Elangeni Social Housing development has pushed boundaries and shown that the provision of inner city rental housing is not only achievable but also financially viable including making provision for life-cycle costs. This borne out by the fact that 'since the project was completed in July 2002. the project is well maintained and provides a good safe living environment in the city.' Employment equity and skills development was also part of the package.