Informal Settlement Upgrading

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South African informal settlements are frequently unsafe and develop in haphazard ways as more people move for work and opportunity. Shack houses are made of a variety of materials, vary in size, and present multiple problems, such as flooding, fires, and structural stability. Because of these trends, communities have issues with housing, roads, drainage, and general safety. Within the Cape Town Project Centre, our teams have worked to address these issues and collaborated with communities to upgrade already existing facilities and propose potential new facilities. We have worked through a process known as reblocking, in which communities obtain safer, better built, standardized homes with roads and sometimes even electricity and personal toilets. Although every project seeks to upgrade the community they work in, specific projects throughout past years have focused directly on creating redevelopment strategies to tackle community issues such as infrastructure, housing, and safety.

Project Listings

Early Childhood and Community Development in Flamingo Crescent (2014) Project Website, Executive Summary: This project focused on finishing up the last parts of the Flamingo Crescent reblocking process by creating a crèche and playground, and helping the community establish house numbers, streets, etc.

Community Mobilisation Through Reblocking in Flamingo Crescent (2013) Project Website, Executive Summary: Students and community members worked together to facilitate the reblocking efforts underway in Flamingo Crescent by creating a shack layout, garden and playground initiative, and developing the plans for a crèche.

Supporting Reblocking and Community Development in Mtshini Wam (2012) Project Website, Executive Summary: WPI students and their co-researchers worked with sponsors to create a streamlined process for reblocking in informal settlement communities while simultaneously developing initiatives for community development such as food security, job opportunities, and safe living environments.

Improving Community Spaces through Collaborative Building & Design Projects in Monwabisi Park (2010) Project Website, Executive Summary: Students helped the community of Monwabisi Park with upgrades dealing with construction and sanitation. They completed repairs on an already existing community centre, including building a new roof, and developed a sanitation system for grey and blackwater.

Sustainable Building Solutions for the Redevelopment of Monwabisi Park, Cape Town (2009) Project Website, Executive Summary: This team worked with community members in Monwabisi Park to establish a new housing system for the settlement, to develop a new community centre, and to plan for a sustainable playground in the area.

Sustainable Redevelopment Through Urban Planning and Mapping (2009) Project Website, Executive Summary: Due to problems resulting from lack of infrastructure in Monwabisi Park, this team worked with the community to establish redevelopment strategies and plans concerning light, storm water management, housing, and pedestrian safety.

Sustainable Redevelopment Strategies for Structures in Informal Settlements (2008) Project Website, Executive Summary: Students worked with community members to create new housing structures and overall community developments to promote better living conditions, job opportunities, and a sustainable communal space.

Mapping for Spatial Redevelopment (2008) Project Website, Executive Summary: This project team worked to develop an upgrading strategy to address the issues and needs of the community concerning roads and infrastructure, community centres, efficient housing, and relocation.



Creche and Playground Designs

These materials, in addition to those listed under Early Childhood and Youth Development, describe plans and concepts with developing a creche, playground, or childhood area within an informal settlement.

Crèche Proposal for Flamingo Cresecent (Reblocking 2013)

How to Develop & Operate a Crèche Guidebook (Flamingo 2014)

Crèche Construction Designs (Flamingo 2014)

Crèche BOQ and Schedule (Flamingo 2014)

Fundraising Materials for Flamingo Crescent Crèche (Flamingo 2014)

Entyrely Fun Playgrounds

2009 Indlovu Playground Plan (Buildings 2009)

Additional Resources from 2014 (Flamingo 2014)

Recreational Spaces

Developing community centres requires lots of designing, planning, and interest from communities. Specific ideas for what the space could be used for, or what renovations need to be made to existing structures to make them appealing, are important aspects of project work in a community. These materials outline this process and give ideas for developments or renovations.

Community Recreational Area Catalog (Flamingo 2014)

Recreational Area Design and BOQ (Flamingo 2014)

Community Hall Step by Step Renovations (Construction 2010)

Cost Analysis 2010 Community Hall Renovations

2009 Community Centre Report (Buildings 2009)


Reblocking is the process of providing uniform housing, roads, and other basic amenities to informal settlement communities. This can be a daunting task. It requires lots of effort, information, and community feedback. Here are resources past students have created to facilitate the reblocking process.

Reblocking Resources for Flamingo Crescent (Construction 2010)

Flamingo Crescent Resource Binder (Reblocking 2013)

Proposed CAD layout for Flamingo Crescent (Flamingo 2014)

Infrastructure Research Guidebook (Reblocking 2013)

Litre of Light Guidebook (Mtshini Wam 2012)

Carpentry Pricing and Designing

Housing Report (Buildings 2009)

Sanitation Systems

An important part of settlement upgrading is providing proper sanitation and hygiene systems. These materials outline the process of students took to create a functional sanitation system. Further information on water, sanitation, and hygiene can be found on our Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Informal Settlements Page.

Step By Step Process (Construction 2010)

Cost Analysis of Septic System

 Determining Tank Volume (Construction 2010)

Determining Leach Field Sizes

Operations Manual_Final (more updated version to be uploaded!)


Sample Interview Questions

Interview Worksheet for City Officials

Interview Worksheet for Community