Open Design Festival Exhibition: Home

DesignSpaceAfrica recently held an exhibition at the Open Design Festival in Cape Town City Hall. The Exhibition titled "Home" explored three notions of home: home as an area where one comes from, home as a shelter and home as a space for dreaming. This exhibition was highly participatory with activities such as building communities with building blocks, filling sand bags and sharing your ideas on our ideas wall. 

The our research into the informal settlement in Philippi called Kosovo was shared with the public. Here planned housing and formalisation of Kosovo highlights challenges of relocation and displacement of communities who collectively formed a place they call “Home”. 

Innovation in building a home was exhibited with our Design Indaba 10x10 Sandbag Houses where viewers could learn about construction techniques used in this project as well as how the community was involved in construction.

The third exploration of home was home as a space for dreaming. According to Philosopher Bachelard, the home protects the dreamer and allows one to dream in peace, without it one would be lost. 

This exhibition served as a research project for DesignSpaceAfrica, gaining a better understanding into the subject called "Home. 

Co creating the future of housing in South Africa

This exciting and informative forum will take place this Wednesday, the 16th on the top floor of the media24 building. 

Don't miss out on this dialogue between DHK Architects, Urban Think Tank, Future Cape Town and us! 






An Afternoon of Song and Celebration

We at DesignSpaceAfrica are very proud to announce the completion of the Aftercare building for iThemba Labantu in Philippi. A great celebration of song and dance went down on Friday afternoon during the building inauguration.  

iThemba Labantu is a centre based in Philippi in New Eisleben Road which operates as a church based NGO run by a passionate Reverend Otto. His energy and unwavering passion is inspiring to witness and his positivism toward a bettered future for the people of Philippi is humbling.  These notions come forth when visiting iThemba Labantu as there is an inherent sense of community and belonging within the centre.

The centre has various facilities which strive to empower the local community through education, health care and skills development. A few of the buildings include a sandbag soup kitchen designed by DesignSpaceAfrica, a hospice, skills development centre, public space and play space for the children and now an aftercare centre for the youth of Phillippi.

The aftercare building is L shaped, which frames a public courtyard adjacent to the existing hospice building. Centered within the intimate courtyard is an existing tree under which informal dialogues and interaction can occur. The double storey building provides four classrooms and a computer lab where students can come together for personal interaction with teachers and peers after school hours. The playful palate of colours and steel columns evoke a sense of fun and adventure creating an inviting environment for children to enjoy. 

2015 Season's Greetings

Season's Greetings from the DesignSpaceAfrica team who ended off 2015 with a very special tour of Robben Island guided by director Luyanda Mpahlwa. 

We look forward to an exciting 2016!

2015 Mandela Day: Paint Empower Shack

Project Overview

Design strategy collective Urban-Think Tank has designed and built a prototypical house as part of an initiative to improve housing conditions of housing in some of the 2700 informal settlements across South Africa. 

Urban-Think Tank,   has teamed up with ETH Zurich university and NGO iKhayalami to search for ways that architects can help improve the environment and security of these slums that house approximately 15 percent of the country’s entire population.

Working under the title Empower Shack, the team organised a design-and-build workshop in Khayelitsha, and developed a design for a low-cost two-storey shack for local resident Phumezo Tsibanto and his family. 

The team then worked together to replace Tsibanto’s existing single-storey dwelling with the new two-storey structure, giving the family a new home with a watertight exterior and its own electricity. This house now functions as the prototype for the rest of the Empower Shack project. 

The designers are now exploring different configurations of the prototype that will allow it to adapt to the needs of different residents, extending up to three storeys when necessary.

This in turn becomes part of a wider strategy for rationalising the layout of the entire community, known as blocking out. This involves creating access routes for emergency vehicles and providing basic services such as sanitation and water.

We at Design Space Africa wished to raise awareness of the Empower Shack project around the community and the rest of the public and opted to paint Phumezo’s House on Mandela Day.

Alfredo Brillembourg, founder and co-director of Urban Think Tank birthed the concept for the paint colours. He was influenced by ideas around South Africa as the Rainbow Nation along with Venezuelan kinetic art, Venezuela being his country of origin. The concept was developed further by Paris based graphic designer Ruedi Baur and Stephanie Briers at Design Space Africa. 

It was a day well spent getting to know Phumezo, his family and neighbours. Our day was nothing short of inspiring and moving and the community offered much insight to the many issues surrounding housing in South Africa.

A big thank you to our sponsors Olympia Paints, ProPaint, Ruedi BaurPhotographers Jan Ras and Mandy Rigtering.

More information about the project here

2015 Event report: Housing and Educating the future

Last night keen Young Urbanists in Cape Town met up to talk about housing and educating the future. The evening kicked off with an inspirational lecture by Luyanda Mpahlwa of Design Space Africa. The talk highlighted the harsh realities of our South African cities and in turn the great potential that is being realised by key African Architects for an African Architecture dealing directly with our unique conditions.

Next up on the Agenda was a mind blowing short film about the tallest slum in the world, the Torre David. This building is the improvised home of a community of more than 750 families, living in an extra-legal and tenuous occupation that some have called a vertical slum. The Torre David made it evident that there is potential for inner city vertical living. Find link here

The lively Alfredo Brillembourg of UrbanThinkTank took us through the potential of informal settlements. He backed up powerful statements such as informal settlements not being the problem but the solution to housing with wonderful examples of Urban Think Tanks work in Khayelitsha.  

The floor opened to excited Young Urbanists who got to voice their questions and opinions in conversations with the talented panel of Architects and Urban Designers.

Passionate conversations were flowing until the early hours of the morning. Thank you Future Cape Town and the Young Urbanists for your efforts in hosting such a successful evening for all the passionate urbanists out there! DesignSpaceAfrica is proud to have been associated with such an amazing and inspiring event. We are looking forward to more. 

To sign up and become a Young Urbanist click here



2015 Public Lecture 13 May 2015: Housing and educating the future

Luyanda Mpahlwa of Design Space Africa and founder of Urban-Think Tank (u-tt), Alfredo Brillembourg get together to talk about Housing and Educating the Future on 13 May 2015.  This highly relevant topic should be a good lecture to attend. Read more about Alfredo Brillembourg and the exciting u-tt here

This event is FREE but BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL. Click here to book

2015 Taking a STAND Against Xenophobia

We are shocked, saddened and appalled at the recent spate of Xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans in our country. We cannot sit, watch and do nothing to stop what is clearly Afrophobia. Our country cannot afford the status of ‘a Nation which has lost control of its Citizens’. We wish South Africa to unite and take STAND and say NO to Xenophobia. As a company we believe that we cannot be impartial, and wish to pledge our Solidarity in support of those who have made South Africa their home.  

We wish to add our voice saying:                

We have a responsibility to support our hard won democratic values, we believe in the Rule of Law in our country, and wish to promote diversity in Africa.




 Luyanda Mpahlwa                                                                                    Director 

2015 Architectural Futsal Legue: Stauch Voster vs. DSA All Stars

On Friday the DSA All Stars played their first ever Architectural Futsal game. After some blood, sweat and tears (of laughter) we managed to lose by only one goal with a score of 5-6 to Stauch Voster. What a great first match! We are looking forward to our next game this Friday. 


2015 Safer Spaces interview Luyanda Mpahlwa

In this interview, Luyanda Mpahlwa speaks about urban development in Cape Town and Johannesburg, the need for integrated urban transformation in townships, and why we must revive public street culture to make urban spaces in South Africa safer. Read the full article here

2014 End of Year Function

2014 End of Year Function

This year the DesignSpaceAfrica team enjoyed a full beach day and feast at the Strantloper in Langebaan, it was a musical and beautiful seafood fun filled day with serenades from some of our own architects/ musicians! Mr Westley, Mr Len and Mr Hilton.  Perhaps we will have a DesignSpaceAfrica band next year!

2014 Makers and Thinkers Exhibition

2014 Makers and Thinkers Exhibition at the Cape Town Stadium

DesignSpaceAfrica is proud to be among the sponsors of the Accra, Ghana Pavilion at the WDC 2014 Makers and Thinkers Exhibition at the Cape Town Stadium. The Pavilion was designed by Joe Addo as an ArchiAfrika project.

Cities from around the world where invited to participate in this exhibition showcasing their achievements in improving the lives of their citizens through trans formative design.  the Participating cities are Accra, Bavaria, Cape Town, Dublin, Gwangju, Qingdao, Paris, Taipei and Seoul.

The exhibition is on from the 15th till the 19th October and entrance is free.



2014 Open Studio at DSA

Thank you to everyone who came to our Open Office on the 20th August 2014.  We guesstimated there where double as many guests than last year demonstrating this event is growing in the Cape Town calender.  

We loved interacting with our fellow architects and public and getting feedback from you, we should do this more often!  so keep in touch.

Like us on Facebook for more event pictures here

2014 11th August Design Africa Symposium Event

We wish to express our thanks to all the participants of the Design Africa Symposium which turned out to be a very successful and well attended architecture and design event. We estimate 200 people attended.

The Symposium generated intellectual stimulation and intense debate on the future of African Cities, the need to align the teaching and practice of design professions, and to address the specific context and needs of a diverse, developing and urbanising Africa. The motivation to strive for design excellence and relevance was encouraged. 

Speakers from South Africa and African countries demonstrated the commonality of challenges, pointing to the need to collaborate more closely and develop a common vision of our profession and for the design futures of our Continent.

We are happy to have initiated such a dialogue in Cape Town, thanks to your participation. We are confident that this forum will continue.

The Design Africa Symposium 2014 was held at the Brundyn+ gallery in the Bo Kaap.  

2014 11 August Design Africa Symposium

Luyanda Mpahlwa initiated the Design Africa Symposium in partnership with the World Design Capital Cape Town 2014, in order to create discussion among African architects on design visions for African cities of the future.  

The themes for the one day symposium where:

1/ Reflections on the UIA,

Panel discussion by Simmy Peerutin, Joe Addo, Thiaan Meyer, Ruben Reddy, and students Lauren Herring, and Uriah Cloete, Moderated by Luyanda Mpahlwa

2/ The African Condition, by Angela Mingas

3/ The African Condition, conversation with Angela Mingas,

Panel discussions by Rashiq Fataar, Edgar Pieterse, Luyanda Maphlwa, Sithabile Mathe, moderated by Joe Addo

4/ Opportunities for Transformation,

Panel discussions by Michael Krause, Ephim Schluger, Mokena Makeka and Ruben Reddy, Moderated by Rashiq Fataar

5/ Education & Knowledge Production,

Panel discussions by Iain Low, Henrie Comrie, Angela Mingas, Michael Krause, and students Lynette Thabo, and Michael de Beer, moderated by Simone le Grange.

6/ Pleneray session; A new paradigm for urbanism in Africa

Panel discussions by Joe Addo, Sithabile Mathe, Rashiq Fataar, Angela Mingas, moderated by Luyanda Mpahlwa