Inyanga Bridge Housing
Greg Gordge - South Africa
INYANGA* BRIDGE | HOUSING : SOUTH AFRICA *inyanga: a traditional healer or diviner Existing urban fabrics within all cities reveal a large amount of ‘lost’ space; in-between and discarded spaces which offer great opportunities from both a densification and rehabilitation perspective. To mitigate the ceaseless urban sprawl of the past century, the question of how we can utilise these complex urban components, which may be considered un-developable, has become increasingly relevant. This project offers an annex of certain ‘missing’ requirements to an existing urban context whilst providing a convalescent quality to the localised condition. The site is an existing freeway onramp which was abandoned mid-construction. Situated in an area of Durban which, over the last two decades, has been transformed into a vivacious and dynamic trading zone receiving over 460,000 people per day. Approximately 700 rural African ‘muthi’ (traditional medicine) traders are accommodated on the abandoned structure and trade on the bridge within certain accepted trading times during the day. Although incredibly dynamic during the day, the bridge is abandoned at night, presenting obvious security risks to the precinct. Furthermore, there exists simple and immediate logistical issues relating to many traders needing to secure their merchandise during these redundant timeframes, and fund transportation to and from temporary residences throughout the city. Many traders sleep with their goods at night in order to secure them. ’Usage over time’ is a critical consideration in providing holistic sustainable and secure urban environments, and limiting scenarios such as this can be considered a ‘lost time’ functionalism relative to efficient utilisation of a given space. The provision of an integrative housing component incorporating trading zones will facilitate a multifunctional, continual and efficient utilisation of this space throughout a 24hour cycle. While providing relevant housing to these residents, the proposal provides secure trading areas while reducing unnecessary transportation requirements and releasing temporary residential clusters around the city to be reconditioned to contextually relevant uses. Traditionally, as a response to the limited economic nature of this archetype, social housing, in South Africa, has generally adopted a generic and banal typology. Consequently, this vital social component lacks the intrinsic values of identity of the occupants it houses and can often be likened to storage units for human beings. The proposal provides secure trading and night-time storage areas at bridge level with a suspended multi level housing component above. The typology focuses primarily on densification and identity; units that attempt to describe the individuality of their occupants – each unit exhibiting a seemingly unique experience. This coupled with the need for layered interactive social and conversational spaces would offer a holistic work – live – play, 24hr functional, environment. The housing units are stacked intermittently, resulting in a ‘solid and void’ architectonic that generates differential unit layouts which are spatially assembled via occupant requirement with external ‘urban agricultural zones’. Voids offer the opportunity for future expansion. Suspended walkways straddle the ‘in-between’ spaces which connect the two halves of the bridge. These become secure interactive social ‘conversational’ zones.