The low density of sprawling urban areas and the poor environmental performance of housing in many South African towns and cities do not support sustainable living and working patterns and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Housing is often not energy or water efficient and residents may have to travel considerable distances by vehicle for daily activities such as going to work, taking children to school and buying food, resulting in negative transport impacts including carbon emissions, pollution and accidents.
Rapid urbanization and the onset of climate change mean it is increasingly important to develop more sustainable models and investigate how these can be applied to transform existing urban areas and sites. However, there are limited examples of how the transformation to more sustainable arrangements can be supported.
An interesting project I am working on investigates alternative urban development models using a modular approach. This is based on modular units that can be used for residential and commercial use are configured to achieve high-density mixed used developments on existing small urban sites.
Compared to current arrangements these types of configurations radically improve sustainability performance by increasing densities, reducing energy and water consumption, generating renewable energy, capturing rainwater and greywater, providing access to local sustainable products and services such as locally grown fresh produce and green mobility services as well providing job creation and small enterprise opportunities.