Exploring Urban Change through Virtual Networks

Development of an online platform as a channel for knowledge sharing

In the majority of third world countries, such as Cape Town, South Africa people are living in harsh climatic conditions. Together with this, most people have limited financial means to build resilient and sustainable homes and as a result South African cities are rapidly developing into dysfunctional entities. Currently, people build their own domestic structures, commonly known as shacks on the periphery of the cities in order to be close to the central economic hubs of the city. These structures are substandard and don’t comply to justifiable living conditions as they deliver a very low level of comfort.
On the contrary, South Africa’s internet system is reliable, and most people have access to this service. With our digital-technological way of living; our ideas, expertise and knowledge can be shared much quicker to transform complex issues at hand like these occurring in the built environment. In this way, potential is seen in using the internet as a tool to rethink how people can be empowered who can’t afford professional services. This research therefore aims to explore the potential and power of knowledge sharing via an online platform called Start Small. to create urban change.
The methodology considers the local weather conditions and delves into a deep evaluation of the thermal performance of local, accessible and affordable materials in and around Cape Town. As a result, data sets and results are freely open to the user on the online platform that suggest construction configurations that drastically increases the percentage of comfort in their homes.
Start Small. holistically educates the self-builder on the potential of materials and how to use them to create the best comfort. Through this tool, the hope is for the urban form and fabric to change through the hands of the people and not only professionals.

Mentors: Jakob Merk, Vu Hoang

Petru Du Toit – South Africa

Petru Du Toit – South Africa

Petru completed her Bachelors and Master Degree in Architecture at the University of the Free State, South Africa in 2016. She has worked as a Junior architect for KOOP Design and dhk Architects where the focus of the projects were largely driven by sustainability. She is particularly interested in 21st century online networks and platforms as a way of knowledge sharing to influence the built forms of a city.