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Coliving for seniors in South Africa. Project of Polish female students awarded!

01 of April '22

Architecture students of Wroclaw University of Technology - Zuzanna Orlowska and Julia Sliwka - have won the international Co-life 2.0 competition organized by the UNI platform. The challenge was to design a coliving space for seniors in Cape Town, South Africa. The awarded project is a vision of a friendly center, full of greenery and common spaces, built with... plastic bricks.

The task of the Co-life 2.0 competition was to create such a place where older people would find not only comfort, but also a sense of community. Participants in the competition were therefore to look for solutions to encourage residents to integrate and engage in the life of this small community - a facility for a group of fifty people between the ages of 60 and 85 was to be designed.

colivingowe dla seniorów mogłoby powstać w RPA

The project provides housing for 50 people between the ages of 60 and 85

© Zuzanna Orlowska, Julia Sliwka

safe space for living and walking

The winning design for the coliving center was created as part of the course Housing Architecture for the Elderly, taught by Prof. Barbara Gronostajska and Dr. Anna Miśniakiewicz. The award-winning students, among other things, carefully analyzed social issues in South Africa and local construction. They pointed out that settlements in the country are usually walled, for security reasons. They noted that the city's urban planning lacks green, communal and walking spaces.

People living in Cape Town usually move around in cars - this is due to the lack of walking spaces and bicycle paths. Therefore, the main idea behind our idea was to create a safe walking space that generates human interaction, the authors say.

Projekt Co-life
2.0, rzut osiedla

The center was designed in the shape of an "O" and the individual residential buildings in the shape of a "U"

© Zuzanna Orlowska, Julia Sliwka

To avoid confinement and separation, the architects decided to take advantage of urban planning and designed the center in the shape of an "O" letter. All necessary functions are located inside the atrium, and additional private space is provided by the architecture of the "U" shaped residential buildings.

z mieszkańców ma zapewniony własny ogródek

Each resident is provided with his own garden

© Zuzanna Orlowska, Julia Sliwka

Each resident is provided with his or her own garden in addition to green common space. In the center of the complex is the main walkway, which leads us to the staircases through which we can enter the floor. On the first floor, each apartment has a balcony or terrace. Three types of apartments are proposed, two-, four- or five-bedroom apartments. Each apartment is equipped with a shared kitchen and hallway, and a private area consisting of a living room, bathroom and bedroom. All apartments are adapted to the needs of people with disabilities.

Projekt Co-life
2.0, rzut pierwszego piętra

The authors proposed three types of apartments for two, four and five people

© Zuzanna Orłowska, Julia Sliwka

bricks made of plastic

The body of the designed establishment consists of two levels adapted to the terrain, and their difference is due to differences in the height of the land. The walls of the buildings would be made of plastic bricks. For their production, shredded non-recyclable plastic is used and mixed with sand and clay. Such a product is then compressed and molded accordingly.

Projekt Co-life
2.0, elewacja południowa i północna

The walls of the buildings are designed with plastic bricks

© Zuzanna Orlowska, Julia Sliwka

Bricks made of plastic are a controversial topic - there are still discussions about potential side effects, for example, the effects of sunlight or water on this building material. That's why we proposed to protect it from the outside with plaster, which protects against UV radiation and does not interact with water, the designers explain.

Load-bearing elements of the structure aredesigned from wooden beams.

Projekt Co-life
2.0, tarasy z roślinnością

The terraces create additional walking routes

© Zuzanna Orłowska, Julia Sliwka

green enclave

An important element of the project are terraces, which can be used to access apartments on the upper floors, and at the same time create additional above-ground walking routes. Importantly, they provide additional shade for the lower levels. They are equipped with green pots, pergolas, benches and beehives.

Projekt Co-life
2.0, schemat zieleni

The authors wanted to create a green enclave

© Zuzanna Orlowska, Julia Sliwka

The students' idea was also to create a green enclave, which, thanks to a large number of plants and retention basins, would change the microclimate inside the estate. The greenery in the atrium is also diversified in terms of function - there are private gardens, a mini-cultivated field, a mini orchard and a large number of trees and shrubs. The authors did not forget about entertainment either, placing a stage and an amphitheater in the atrium. The center also has a communal canteen for residents, a medical area and a sewing café (a cafe where sewing classes are held) and a place of tranquility.

wspólne na osiedlu colivingowym

coliving estate fosters integration

© Zuzanna Orłowska, Julia Sliwka

meal for recycling materials

The choice of plastic bricks as a building material was not accidental. The students' concept focuses heavily on the topic of waste management, for this in the center they planned an eatery offering a hot meal in exchange for plastic materials. The authors hope that this could encourage local residents to collect and recycle plastics.

Osiedle colivingowe w RPA

The students wanted to create a place that would bring together different social groups

© Zuzanna Orłowska, Julia Sliwka

We had the opportunity to talk a lot about South Africa, because our fellow student from the year, lived in the country and shared her experiences. So we know that many South Africans are engaged in waste collection and this is their livelihood. That's why we proposed the plastic-for-soup and/or second-dish campaign to provide a safe eatery for the poor and at the same time get other interested people to recycle. Let's also remember that South Africa is a country where officially there is no longer apartheid, but unofficially the problem of racial segregation still exists. Settlements are being designed that are closed to white people and separate for people of other skin color. By designing a housing estate for the elderly (by implication, the richer ones) and proposing an eatery for the poorer ones next door, we wanted to create a place that would unite these different social groups, because, after all, skin color does not define a person ," Zuzanna and Julia conclude.

Also read about the design of a coliving estate for the elderly in Morocco by Nina Lipowska of Poznan University of Technology.

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