University students design new creche using recycled materials

Chairperson of the Airport Valley community, Zama Mona, said they were very excited about the creche.

Nelson Mandela University architecture students have given new life to old junk through the design of a state-of-the-art portable creche to be used in Airport Valley. 

The project is the brainchild of Glenda Brunette from Walmer Angels who linked up Creche 13 in Airport Valley and the NMU second year students, who designed and are raising funds to build the new creche.

Chairperson of the Airport Valley community, Zama Mona, said they were very excited about the creche.

"We are very happy about this project and all of us are very keen to help.

"We don't want children to walk around outside doing nothing," he said.

 The NMU lecturer coordinating the project, John Andrews, said they always intended for the second-year students to produce a design that would contribute to society.

"I think up to now their marks were their rewards and their studies were a very insular process.

"Now we are moving all this energy to benefit the community," Andrews said.

He said there were a number of requirements that made it a complex design including that the entire structure had to be a temporary structure and be portable in the event that residents receive permanent housing. 

The final design also boasts a new "skylight" element never done before using corrugated steel drums and a uniquely designed vent.

He said that the brief the students received was that the building had to be constructed from low cost but robust materials that could be found around the township and that the structure had to be portable. 

"They were asked to design a creche with classrooms and a storage area as well as add designs that would harvest rainwater," he said.

The students then had to build models of their design to show to community leaders.

Andrews said the students originally produced 13 designs and then the four final designs were collaborated and the best of the original designs used.

He said they are hoping to have construction of the creche finalised by August.

"We have raised R100,000 so far and we need R200,000. If anybody wants to drop off two 20 foot containers, we will be very happy," he said. 

He said they are also consulting with engineers at the university about the best way to construct the new creche.

Shadaan Loonat, 18, who created the "skylights" for the final design said his original creche was constructed completely with drums.

"At R80 a drum, it would only cost about R72,000 to build," he said.

He said he was excited that their group's design allowing for fresh air and light to flood the creche would be used.

Thavonga Gune, 19, said it was a very interesting project to work on and he was looking forward to seeing the children's reactions.

"I kept on thinking how it would feel for them to be in this creche... I loved designing a play area for them," Gune said.

Brunette said: "I am so excited about this. I prayed for help because I didn't have the finances to help and I believe this is an answer to prayer.

"The children were squashed into this shack which is not hygenic and not good for them. I can't wait for the new building," she said.