Hous­ing in­no­va­tions aim to cut risk of blazes in Masi

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - SOYISO MALITI

WHEN Dave Land­shut left Seat­tle in Amer­ica for a hol­i­day in Cape Town nine years ago, he had no idea the city had fire-prone, poor com­mu­ni­ties like Masi­phumelele.

The area had just been rav­aged by one of the big­gest fires to hit the city when Land­shut ar­rived to live close by.

He quickly switched from hol­i­day to fire­fight­ing mode and has not looked back.

Land­shut has part­nered with Hout Bay res­i­dent Mark Al­gae to build shacks with in­su­lat­ing bar­ri­ers and also dou­ble-storey shacks for the area’s su­perblock­ing process – when the city re­builds equal­sized shacks, a one-size-fits-all op­tion af­ter a com­mu­nity is rav­aged by a fire

he Ther­mo­trap project, Al­gae’s brain­child, pro­tects shacks from fires with news­pa­per, hes­sian fi­bre, ce­ment and glue. Ther­mo­trap can also de­crease the heat by 12ºC in­side the shack.

Land­shut be­lieves his free idea, the iThemba project, is in tune with the city’s su­perblock­ing of the area and will as­sist the poor.

“The dou­ble-storey shack is go­ing to be a big thing in Masi­phumelele, es­pe­cially now that it’s fire sea­son, un­til the city finds land to build,” Land­shut said.

“We’re get­ting a lot of re­quests to build this and we do it free of charge. I do this from the kind­ness of my heart as a mis­sion­ary.

“When I came here, I never knew I would be con­fronted by such a chal­lenge. It was my first time see­ing a fur­nace as big as that in Masi nine years ago.”

Land­shut said when he landed in Cape Town, he had re­alised many lo­cal res­i­dents were un­skilled, so he started his iThemba project, which will pro­vide build­ing skills.

He is train­ing two men from Masi­phumelele. Al­gae said: “My ini­tial plan is to roll this out through Dave. We are look­ing. to make the liv­ing con­di­tionsT of the poor in Masi bet­ter; we are re­duc­ing the heat in­side their shacks.”

Al­gae, who first pre­sented his idea at the World De­sign Cap­i­tal in Stel­len­bosch in 2014, said they used data log­gers to test the project.

● See www. youtube. com/ watch?v=0u39JfLHsfE to view how the Ther­mo­trap project is built.

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