Diepsloot’s Reception Area presents a predominantly single storey fabric at densities close to 300 dwelling units/ha.
Diepsloot, Located 40km north of Johannesburg, is the city’s largest post-apartheid township. It is an area in crisis with failing services, protests and xenophobic violence making headlines. Yet despite this it provides an affordable foothold in the urban economy of Johannesburg.
Situated between Johannesburg and Pretoria, the initially dislocated and peripheral township has become central to the ever decreasing, and rapidly developing space between the two cities. People thus primarily flock to Diepsloot as a base from which to be employed in either city. Diepsloot’s aptly named, Reception Area, home to 15 274 informal dwellings, is a large informal settlement at the heart of the township, it is here that many new residents to Gauteng Province are able to build, buy or rent an informal structure as a home-base. Originally laid out as a temporary settlement, each relocated family was awarded an approximately 80m² stand. Over the last 15 years the area has densified to approximately 300 untis/ha. The free-standing house on a plot has thus morphed into a yard surrounded by several rooms.
A failing sanitation system, lack of regular refuse removal and no electricity collude with the semi-legal status, no clear ownership rights, and the promise of new housing effectively suspending residents in an indefinite limbo.
Density, most commonly measured as units/ha, is generally accepted to be low at less than 40 units/ha, medium at 40 to 100 units/ha and high at more than 100 units/ha. For the purposes of this project densities are listed as both stands (read: dwelling units or one owner) per hectare as well as habitable rooms per hectare. The habitable room measure is appropriate in that it mirrors more accurately occupancy patterns seen in high density, low income areas.