25 October 2012 - The awards ceremony of the Southern African Housing Foundation (SAHF) took place recently at Moyo restaurant on the Spier Wine Estate near Stellenbosch. At this glamorous annual event that celebrates achievements in the housing industry, the SAHF acknowledges individuals and organisations that excel in delivering a better quality of life for communities in South Africa.
This year, the Touwsranten Housing Project, developed by the George Municipality, was awarded the 2012 SAHF Special Merit Award in recognition of the project’s integrated and sustainable community living in an environment with access to economic opportunities.
The Touwsranten Housing Project was aimed at providing housing opportunities for 395 homeless families that lived in the backyards of the formal rural village of Touwsranten itself or in informal settlements scattered across the greater Wilderness area of the George Municipality.
Aurecon was appointed to provide project management, architectural (via a sub-consultant), civil and structural engineering services, as well as site supervision.
“Due to the fact that the project is sited in an ecologically sensitive area, we faced various challenges obtaining environmental and land use planning authorisations,” says Project Manager Joubert Theart, “however, thanks to determination and a great team effort, this significant housing project was successfully completed in October 2012.”
The project was implemented in five stages:
The Touwsranten Housing Project was funded by the Human Settlement Department of the Western Cape’s Provincial Government, with further capital contributions from the George Municipality. The electrification of the township was funded by the Department of Minerals and Energy.
A key criterion to winning the SAHF Special Merit Award is the ability of the nominated project to demonstrably benefit and empower the community in which it is based. This human settlement project tallied up through its provision of reliable and affordable basic services, education, health, welfare and security services.
In addition, says Theart, “The three contracts that flowed from the project all had, as objectives within the contract, to provide employment opportunities to the local Touwsranten community, which is very isolated from employment opportunities in the greater George area.” During the top structures contract, up to 10 local sub-contractors (with their own local labour) were employed and trained by the main contractor, who also added value by offering various development courses, such as ones in solar water heating and basic electrification, to interested beneficiaries.
“It is hugely fulfilling to work on a project when you know that in delivering engineering solutions, you can make a direct and tangible difference in the lives and well-being of families,” Theart enthuses.
Francois Theron, who acted as Aurecon Project Leader, adds, “The constant challenge of low-cost housing projects is to maintain a high level of quality and innovation, while adhering to a tight budget. The project team made it a priority to achieve the widest possible impact they could, and the SAHF recognising their efforts with this prestigious Special Merit Award is evidence of that.”