Partnerships & innovation in South Africa

Polycare, as a partner of BOXA, supplies building technology for the construction of a self-sufficient toilet house in South Africa.

“We face a major challenge in developing fast-growing communities while being aware of and minimizing the impact on our environment. Millions of people do not have access to decent and affordable housing, basic education and health facilities. Not to mention the safe and reliable supply of water, energy and sanitation, says Anthony Louis, the initiator of the project in South Africa” https://www.boxa.co.za/

To the background

Directly opposite the Central Kitchen is “Victoria Yards”, a collection of early 20th century warehouse and industrial buildings covering 30,000 square meters. When the owner Brian Green and his partners came across the site, essentially all the buildings were derelict. Which suited Brian very well — as the man behind Johannesburg’s popular 44 Stanley, he is adept at turning run-down properties destined for demolition into desirable targets.

Brian and his team spent much of 2017 developing Victoria Yards into a creative centre. The idea was to turn it into a city farm with the aim of attracting artists and craftsmen and thus establish a kind of educational institution. The “farm” already houses a number of different premises used for different purposes. From a gallery and a gin distillery to a coffee roastery and artists’ studios have been built. Renowned artists such as Blessing Ngobeni, Roger Ballen and Ayanda Mabulu have settled here). (https://www.victoriayards.co.za/) Sanitary facilities are a central necessity in the operation of commercial facilities, clubs and exhibitions. Due to this necessity, the project described below was created.

The concept

The idea and the basic concept is the construction of a self-sufficient toilet house, which can be operated completely without external water supply.

Anthony Lewis brought various partners together to form a cooperation.

The renowned architect and designer Frank Böhm, who is based in South Africa, developed the design of the house. Like Polycare, he is also involved in the implementation of the project. Frank Böhm’s mission is to design and produce unique objects, which are manufactured with great attention to detail and meticulous precision with defined parameters for environmental awareness for each piece. Powerful architectural forms, seemingly simple shapes by nature with a sustainable consciousness are the basic idea of the studio. (https://www.frankbohmstudio.co.za/)

How does it actually work?

When our CTO, Robert Rösler, travelled to the project site in December 2019, with peak summer temperatures hitting 37°C. Already the next day of his stay there were enormous rain showers and temperatures dropped to 12°C. The system takes advantage of these weather characteristics or changes.

Under the house there is a water tank where rainwater is collected. The water is used with a small solar-powered pump as water for the sink. Different and novel products were used, with Polyblocks playing a major role for this purpose. The entire project was realized without the use of cement concrete and was erected within only one week.

Surefoot columns serve as foundations. Surefoot concrete-free screw-in foundations are revolutionizing the pile foundation industry. These high-strength, hybrid “all-in-one” steel foundations are specifically designed to increase their efficiency when withstanding gravity, buoyancy, shear and moment loads. Surefoot Bolted Pile Foundations are job specific and tailored to the soil conditions of the construction site and can be used on a variety of projects. (http://surefootafrica.com/)

CLT panels and CLT beams (multilayer wood) were used as support elements, floor panels and roof elements. This way of producing wooden beams and panels has been state of the art in Europe for quite some time. In South Africa, this was not yet a recognized building material. With the PolyCare show house, this product should also be better marketed in the future.

In the overall project, the walls will be built with Polyblocks. In this case, they not only seal off the rooms, but also form the house structure together with the CLT material. By bracing the CLT with Polycare technology within the bricks, a holistic ring anchor is created, which stabilises the entire structure horizontally and vertically. This house stands on only five load-bearing feet. Normal wall systems would not be applicable, as the CLT elements would reach their load limits.

The project’s sewage system was supplied and installed by the project partner Enviro. http://www.enviro-loo.com/how.html

Special thanks go from us to Anthony Louis of BOXA. Without him this project would not have been possible. https://www.boxa.co.za/

Check out the construction process here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE0yAgQ9dnQ&t=8s

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Polycare

To drive empowerment and circular economy, Polycare develops innovative construction technologies, that make sustainable habitats affordable.