WIT Press

Sensitivity To Site And The Nature Of Materials – Southern African Architectural Design


Free (open access)





Page Range

233 - 242




4,448 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


B. P. Jekot


This article reports the results of an exercise to review architectural design as the expression of different cultures through materials, where reliance could evolve, pooling different skills and knowledge. This study has been inspired by stunning examples of the so-called ‘third’ and the ‘first’ world in Southern African architecture where the inclusion of the ‘underdeveloped’ in ‘developed’ technologies can often be seen. Specific environmentally friendly interventions in various socio-cultural and cross-cultural backgrounds are included. The idea behind these designs is to respect the unspoiled natural environment, and to use, where possible, recyclable and natural materials. Keywords: nature of materials, recycling and reuse, technology, identity. 1 Environmental concerns, climate and design Being in the southern hemisphere, Southern African seasons stand in opposition to those of Europe and North America. Famous for its sunshine, Southern Africa is mostly a dry region, receiving only around half of a world’s average rainfall, with this rainfall coming predominantly in the summer months. Temperatures in Southern Africa tend to be lower than in other countries at similar latitudes (such as Australia) due mainly to greater elevation above sea level. In winter, for the same reason, nighttime temperatures can drop to below freezing point. The main environmental constraint upon architectural design is the extreme radiation, heat and glare as is common in subtropical climates. The design, therefore, has to respond to this extreme climate. Continuous and efficient ventilation is the primary comfort requirement. Protection from the sun, as well as prevention of internal temperature elevation during the day, should affect all aspects of building design. The layout, planning, as well as the size and location of


nature of materials, recycling and reuse, technology, identity.