SIAH 4 Africa Design Competition

About SIAH-I

SIAH-I aims to develop interdisciplinary networks and partnerships across the globe to respond effectively to complex housing challenges in Africa. The rationale for this project stems from the views that complex, multidisciplinary perpetual challenge of design, financing and delivering adequate, affordable housing in Africa cannot be solved by the experts, professionals, and policymakers working away in silos. There is a serious need for building capacity, community collaboration and improvement in the African housing industry, embrace sustainability through new methods and innovative technologies. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need to provide adequate and safe housing in particular for the vulnerable communities in informal settlements. The affordable housing backlog in Africa is currently estimated at 150 million and is projected to increase exponentially with rapid population growth, high rate of urbanisation and a lower rate of housing development due to the industry’s reliance on conventional methods and technologies. The focus so far within the affordable housing domain has been on technical and economic aspects rather than social and environmental. It is therefore essential to embed these components especially to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. SIAH-I will provide a platform for community building, sharing new knowledge and expertise among the housing technical professionals and policymakers in collaboration with social, environmental and health scientists. These interactions will reveal the potential for modern methods and innovative technologies such as resilience, inclusive and passive design, lifecycle assessment, circular economic and cyber innovative technologies to address the challenges in the development of sustainable, innovative and affordable housing in Africa with opportunities for expansion to Global South.

In Africa, and across the Global South, rapid urbanisation, economic turbulence, poverty, extreme climate events, and humanitarian crises have created a high demand for affordable housing. 55% of African urban dwellers now live in inadequate houses, a proportion that is notably larger than the global average (30%) and other developing regions (31%).

African governments keep promising to deliver adequate and affordable houses; however, it is evident that the strategies and technologies deployed for housing provision has not reduced the scale of the housing crisis. In 2019, an estimated 150 million units were needed to be built to house 600 million Africans in need of affordable housing. Moreover, African inhabitants of affordable housing experience social and spatial marginalisation and thus are confronted with an increased risk to health and overall quality of life. The need to address these deficits is underscored in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

This project aims to tackle the goals 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11 through Partnership for the Goals (17) of SDGs and also address the “Equitable Access to Sustainable Development” (clean air, water and sanitation; affordable, reliable, sustainable energy) and “Sustainable Economies and Societies” (sustainable livelihoods supported by strong foundations for inclusive economic growth and innovation; resilience and action on short-term environmental shocks and long-term environmental change; sustainable cities and communities) of GCRF’s challenge areas by primarily developing community and building capacity through establishing interdisciplinary networks and partnerships across the globe to respond effectively to complex and multidisciplinary housing challenges in Africa.

SIAH-I will empower local stakeholders and communities to redevelop and improve habitation, infrastructures and services conditions of affordable housing projects by introducing the modern housing methods and innovative technologies. On the broader scale, the SIAH-I can address inadequate human settlements of the entire Global South crisis.

SIAH-I objectives

IAH-I aims to effectively address one of the most complex challenges of Africa and global south countries by developing an interdisciplinary network for collaboration, building capacity and partnerships between housing stakeholders, professionals and policymakers across the globe.

To this end, measurable objectives are to:

  • Establish an interdisciplinary platform for African housing stakeholders, experts, academics, researchers, and policymakers to collaborate, share knowledge and expertise, and engage with housing experts and industries across the globe in the field of sustainable, innovative, and affordable housing.
  • Articulate modern solutions to the existing challenges of sustainable, affordable housing through the development of an innovative technology-driven sustainable, affordable housing conceptual framework for Africa (SIAH-I).
  • Introduce new concepts, techniques and disruptive technologies such as resilience, inclusive, passive design, net-zero, lifecycle assessment, circular economy, cyber technologies content of construction 4.0 and 5.0 IR (Robots, drones, digital twin, IoT, 3D Printing, BIM 6D), and methods such as offsite, lean, volumetric and alternative materials such as Nano and recycled, through collaborations between housing developers, stakeholders, experts and policymakers.
  • Train next generation of African researchers, innovators and collaborative problem-solvers.
  • Engender technology transfer and capacity development between African academics and industry sectors in the field of sustainability and innovation for affordable housing.
  • Provide a sustainable platform for undertaking research, training and collaborative research on the nexus between sustainable, affordable housing, modern methods, innovative technologies and quality of life.

Outcomes and Impacts

Housing stakeholders, experts and policymakers are continually working to address the complex, cross border challenge of affordable housing; however, they are working in their own relative silos. 

This project provides a platform to bring together expertise from a variety of professional and academic backgrounds that include architectures, engineers, urban planners, health, environmental and social scientists and professional practices in international and affordable housing development. This multilateral collaboration will produce the following outcomes and impacts:

  • Presenting the latest innovative technologies, viable housing materials and modern construction methods and their technical, economic, social, environmental properties.
  • Introducing modern approaches to design and construction of affordable housing such as inclusivity, resilience, passive design, sustainability, lifecycle assessment and circular economy and their socio-cultural impacts on residents.
  • Introducing modern approaches to design and construction of affordable housing such as inclusivity, resilience, passive design, sustainability, lifecycle assessment and circular economy and their socio-cultural impacts on residents.
  • Through virtual workshops, sharing and enhancing knowledge of African housing stakeholders, professionals and policymakers through collaborations with international experts across the globe.
  • Disseminating findings of the workshops and developing an African sustainable, innovative, affordable housing conceptual framework.
  • Promoting consciousness of sustainable housing developments by employing innovative technologies and discussing their advantages on economic, social and environmental.
  • Providing solid evidence and baseline to seek sustainable, innovative, efficient and effective solutions through multidisciplinary collaboration and research.

The outcomes of SIAH-I will allow to initiate a novel body of work and identify the multidisciplinary challenges of affordable housing in Africa, share knowledge from the proceedings and findings of workshops, and develop a conceptual framework which impacts significantly on the most critical problems faced by Africa and global south by transforming the individualistic and silo working environments to open, active, multidisciplinary and collaborative environment connecting housing stakeholders, professionals and policymakers across the disciplines and borders. The outcomes of this project will directly impact the quality of life and wellbeing of more than 85% of the population of Africa (Middle and low income). 

The longer-term outcomes of the project would be the building of capacity in African innovative sustainable, affordable housing through a multidisciplinary sustainable collaboration platform. The initiative networks and focus groups will be used as permanent virtual venues for addressing affordable housing issues in Africa by sharing transformative knowledge and expertise, exposing stakeholders and students to
the novel and innovative technologies, nurturing next generation of African researchers, innovators and collaborative problem solvers through strategic partnerships. This will subsequently strength the relations between African academics and housing industry professionals and stakeholders, linking the African housing experts and stakeholders to their counterparts around the world.