The design of a rural house in Bushbuckridge, South Africa: An Open Building interpretation

Wihan Hendrikz (1) , Amira Osman (2)
(1) , South Africa
(2) Professor of Architecture at the Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa. SARChI Chair in Spatial Transformation, Chairperson Platform 100 , South Africa


This qualitative study argues that occupant involvement in housing design and construction process should lead to more appropriate buildings that can sustain their usefulness with minimal changes. It documents the design of a house in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, South Africa that uses Open Building (OB) principles so that the house adapts to the changing needs of the family and maintains its intergenerational value.

This project centres the occupant in the design and construction process and considers the house flexible and conceived by many authors. Based on this worldview, we use the following tools: a literature review on OB, an OB analysis of low-cost housing, and analysis of the design project.

We compare low-cost housing projects using four OB principles: how the project involves the occupant’s agency to build; how the project separates its elements to facilitate this agency; whether the project focuses on providing a housing product, or a housing process; and, how sustainably the delivered structure can accommodate the occupant’s current and future construction.

The paper illustrates these OB principles in the design of a low-cost, rural house project in Bushbuckridge to show that they also have value for the architecture at a small scale, and how a house can be designed to ensure that it adapts to the changing needs and creativity of the occupant.

The paper concludes with the implications that OB principles have for the design process. The process no longer consists of a simple sequence that separated design and construction and ends with a housing product. Rather, the design and construction focus on delivering a building process that the occupant can take ownership of a sustain intergenerationally.

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Wihan Hendrikz (Primary Contact)
Amira Osman
Hendrikz, W. ., & Osman, A. (2022). The design of a rural house in Bushbuckridge, South Africa: An Open Building interpretation. International Journal of Environmental Science & Sustainable Development, 7(2).

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