The United Nations notes that about 62 percent of the urban population in sub-Saharan Africa live in slums, and don’t have access to even basic facilities such as proper sanitation, clean water and even electricity. To better the conditions for slum-dwellers in Africa, researchers at the University of Stellenbosch has developed the iShack, or Improved Shack, which is an innovative approach to housing in such areas.
While at the first look, the dwelling seems in lines with conventional shacks, it includes a plethora of environmentally friendly products and technologies that provide everything from ventilation to electricity. The prototype iShack is equipped with a photovoltaic panel on the roof that is capable of producing enough energy to power three lights, a mobile phone charger and an outdoor motion detecting spotlight.
The team also strategized window placement for adequate ventilation and solar heating. The roof of the structure is sloped to allow the occupants to easily harvest rainwater during the winter season. The space between the exterior zinc surface and the interior space is filled with cardboard boxes and milk cartons that serve as the insulation and prevent any heat loss. Moreover, rows of recycled bricks have been used to create sturdy flooring base that acts as thermal mass and keep the shack warm at night using the solar heat collected during the day.
CNN reports that the a grant by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will now allow the developers to develop up to 100 more iShacks that can be used to determine whether the system can be applied on a larger scale to benefit a large number of people who are forced to live in slums.