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Backyard Bioponics

An integrated water management system that simultaneously serves agriculture, urban design, and aquatic ecosystems.

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Connecting the concepts of landscape, hydrology and sanitation, this project aims to create an integrated, multi-functional and optimised system of greywater management and urban agriculture for informal settlements in South Africa. Built from a systematic combination of landscape features, public furniture elements, and playground devices for creating safe and welcoming community space, constructed wetland sewers and filtration beds will effectively capture, handle and clean grey and storm water. The filtered water can then be re-used for irrigation of those same landscape elements for a complete cycle of water management. The primary goal is to combine sustainable infrastructure with functional public space. Ecological water treatment systems like reed beds, pollution absorbent plants, and rainwater capturing devices will be combined with landscape architecture elements like public seating, children’s playgrounds and vertical farming to improve the quality, safety, and functionality of public space (i.e., a playground roundabout as a pumping station, a bench that doubles as a water filtration bed, landscaping plants that both provide outdoor shade and absorb, hold, and distribute stormwater).

WHO BENEFITS?

The main objective is to foster self-reliance of the local BT community (70 households) through sustainable, well-functioning, and dignified solutions. They are located in Khayelitsha, a township of Cape Town, South Africa. The project also will inform local and national governmental planning authorities in organising the delivery of appropriate services.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

The project, when constructed, will specifically manage all grey-water from washing clothes, bathing, and cleaning as well as rain and stormwater. The amount of dirty water reaching the municipal drains or aquifers will decrease significantly. Prior to reaching the drains, this now-clean water can be recycled into landscape elements to increase the productivity of resident urban-farmers and enliven the public spaces within the community. The volumes of water entering the stormwater drains can be measured precisely to record the proposed results. After several workshops with the community to engage functionality and adaptability, it is clear that the systems will easily integrate within the community and larger housing upgrade. The project’s relevance and results are reasonable and realistic, understanding the current municipal systems already in place in this specific settlement. The project can be built within the current structure and timeline of the overall EMPOWER SHACK housing project (http://u-tt.com/project/empower-shack/), ensuring deliverable results on schedule. As with the EMPOWER SHACK project, this is meant to be seen as a prototype to be implemented in other sites across the Western Cape. The BACKYARD BIOPONICS project will not only create a functioning water and food management system within BT, which will continue to provide recycled water, quality public space, and food security, but create trained residents and experts alike to further implement the project in surrounding sites and provide entrepreneurial opportunities.

IN-COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

  • Yes, for two or more years

EXPERTISE

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

  • Yes

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

Urban-Think Tank (U-TT) is an interdisciplinary design practice dedicated to high-level research and design on a variety of subjects, concerned with contemporary architecture and urbanism. For Backyard Bioponics we are collaborating with Isidima Design and Development and OKRA Landscape Architects.

Attachments (1)

15_0921_M2_ETH_Empower_cut.pdf

Abridged milestone report for Empower Shack project showing work to date on urban agriculture and sanitation systems.

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Team

Hi Urban Think Tank!
Below is some feedback from our experts. We look forward to reading your responses!

How do you plan to harvest the grey water in this complex informal settlement? Can you tell us more about the the economic feasibility/viability of this initiative?

I am unclear about how this type of project will inform the government planning authorities to deliver appropriate services. What type of products and activities will be produce/done to support it?

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