The planning for a sustainable housing settlement of some 4,500 houses for the labour force of LONMIN's platinum mines at Marikana, Rustenberg.
I was a project team member of the Midguard Conscious Group (MCG) who was approached by LONMIN to assist an architectural firm it had appointed with sustainable development solutions for a housing project for its mines’ labour force. The project area comprised the undeveloped phases of an existing township wherein the first phase that was built many years ago, and which provided for some of LONMIN’s labour force, was the typical Apartheid era dormitory township. LONMIN was anxious not to replicate this Apartheid era township, but rather ensure that this new housing project creates a sustainable built environment that provides for housing, public and community facilities, socio-economic opportunities and green open spaces. Furthermore, the existing Apartheid era township had to be incorporated within the new design so that an overall sustainable built environment could be provided.
My planning contribution for this project provided the layout strategy and concept design for sustainable housing. This used Permaculture zoning theory in a town environment to plan for the town centre, commercial facilities, social facilities, housing stock, agricultural opportunities, and, environmental / conservation areas. This Permaculture approach to town planning drew from a paper that I presented at the 2005 Sustainable Built Environment Conference held in South Africa, wherein I met some members of MCG, hence the inclusion within this project team. The other members of the project team then used this Permaculture layout and developed further aspects for, a public transport system, agriculture, natural building systems and community training, that dovetailed with the architectural plans for the overall project.
This was a planning project wherein the design process entailed the preparation of a status quo assessment, a design strategy and design concepts, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 - Design Process
The status quo assessment obtained the orthophoto base map and overlaid the existing town planning layout and cadastra. LONMIN had acquired a major tract of land for which a town plan layout and associated cadastra were already approved but which had not yet been developed. The project site is fairly flat and surrounded by the unsightly tailings from the mining operations. There are dams within the central part of the site that have been used by the mines to discharge foul water. Some of the dams are leaking and aggravating the swampy conditions within the undeveloped central portions of the site.
The design strategy provided the theory of Permaculture design zones for a homestead and how this could be applied to village clusters and large towns. Thereafter, the design strategy for each zone was outlined together with associated action plans and key performance indicators. This also included the integration of the existing township within the overall plan.
The design concepts then developed the overall layout for a sustainable built environment that embraced the Permaculture zone theory and sector analysis. This layout made provision for an environmental / conservation area (Zone 5) by proposing the establishment of a large earth mound planted with indigenous trees and plants around the periphery of the project site that would mitigate the unsightly view of the mine tailings and also create a new water course designed to drain the swampy interior of the site. This outer zone would blend in with an inner Zone 4, which contained passive open space and orchards, which in turn, would be integrated within agricultural allotments in Zone 3. The housing stock with homestead gardens was then contained in Zone 2. The development node(s) with commercial, public and entertainment facilities were located within Zone 1, whilst the village green and town square were located in Zone 0. The design concepts also included several cross-sections of critical design aspects. The overall layout managed to integrate and add value to the existing developed part of the site. However, only a portion of the existing town planning layout could be used, whilst the greater part would have to be withdrawn and redesigned in accordance with the proposed new layout concept.
The plans have been favourably received by LONMIN but have not been implemented as a result of financial cutbacks due to the current recession.
This project was a unique opportunity to capitalise from a paper that I presented at the 2005 Sustainable Built Environment Conference that dealt with the application of Permaculture Design to develop sustainable housing settlements. In particular, this project applied the Permaculture zoning theory from this paper that explained how the zoning for a homestead could be extended to design a sustainable town plan layout. This design project has been used in various lectures to demonstrate examples of large scale holistic Permaculture design.