Building a green future

Lee-Anne Butler

A PhD student at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University is hoping to inspire the vibrant community of Richmond Hill in Port Elizabeth to “go green” through his environmentally conscious research.

Kenyan-born student Kevin Kimwelle, who has been living in Port Elizabeth for 10 years, has been working closely with language centre the Alliance Française to spread his message. Kimwelle and the centre are working together to share their message at the popular Richmond Hill Music Festival, which takes place later this month.

“We want the community to understand all the benefits there are in becoming more sustainable. It is about inspiring and creating awareness. If we all try to reduce our footprint, there can be social and economic benefits for businesses and residents of Richmond Hill,” Kimwelle said.

He said he had travelled to various African countries and found that most architects were commercially driven and did not factor inthe communities for which they were building.

“I saw that many projects fail and poverty was rife. They fail either because there is a lack of material or poor management, but also because the community is unable to sustain the project. I wanted to see if there was an architectural approach which would better cater for communities.”

His PhD project – “The architect as an agent for social change: promoting community-driven design in sustainable development practice in Africa” – strives to shift architecture from a commercially driven approach to one which is more community driven.

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