Slovo Park at a Glance

Slovo Park is situated in a politically and socially sensitive stretch of land south of Soweto. The community has been known by national government as Nancefield, by local council as Olifantsvlei and in the last five years as Slovo Park – named in honour of South Africa’s first minister of housing and former Umkhonto we Sizwe General, Joe Slovo.

The forced changing of identity reflects an on-going struggle faced by the leadership of Slovo Park to gain recognition as a legitimate settlement to access governmental support. This battle has been fought through constant shifts in governmental policy, power and promises for the community of Slovo Park. Their only tactics comprising of service delivery protest, painstaking formal requests for upgrade and currently a lawsuit against the City of Johannesburg.

Currently the community of Slovo Park with its development partners are strategizing this key social and political move.




Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 17: Build day 3 _ Preparing the Existing Steel Frame and Postboxes

On this build day we were lucky enough to have 4 extra sets of hands from friends and family of our students and also a surprise visit from the guys at House Jakaranda.

House Jakaranda is a postgraduate residence that accomodates mixed (male and female) students travelling from all over the African continent, and indeed the world, to study at the University of Pretoria.
Jacaranda residents, otherwise known as Jakarandians, believe and follow Es'kia Mphahlele thought: "A community is often what we make of it. It realises its status through the alignment of individual and group interests, concerns, anxieties, aspirations and goals into a unified purpose".

  • We focussed on preparing the existing framework for a layer of steel primer that would protect the frame for many more years to come.
  • primed the whole structure
  • started sanding and cleaning post box A, clearing the main opening of rust.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 15:Gum Poles, Post Boxes & Bricks

During the week, the team managed to make the first alterations to the post box which have changed the entire feel of the boxes as they stand.

The walls were started and due to a lack of brick supply we moved our energies towards erecting the gum poles.

The North Wall so far...

These gum poles will provide shade structures for future meetings as well enhance the sense of place we are trying to create.

Getting the gum poles into the ground was quite a task.

The first step was getting them from across the site at their storage facility.

Digging the hole's proved tricky as we had compacted the ground previously and had to miss the previous pit latrine holes.

As the gum poles were donated, they were not all the same length and requried cutting. While we were busy with that a young lady from the community decided she wanted to help, and knew better than the guys on site...

Slovo lady, showing the guys how its done.

After being cut the gum poles were treated with engine oil to prevent insects from attacking the base.

Shaiks holding the gum pole in place.
Setting out was crucial as the poles had specific role in the visual axis of the site.

Fianlly the concrete was poured and allowed to dry. This detail is very simple and we managed to complete the gum poles in one day.

Working drawing for Gum Poles & Paving Details

The final jpy of the day was after speaking Corobrik, Lawley, they offered us some of their discarded stock to assist us in the site construction.

500 half bricks from Corobrik, Lawley

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 14: Walls and Postboxes

Today the first few courses of the the wall on the north edge of the site were layed.At the same time Arthur, Sam and Mpho, managed to push out the post boxes with alot of strength and patience.
There was some confusion about the drawings and where the wall ended and which bonds should be used where. As students we suddenly realized the importance of dimensions in a drawing and that they actually have to make sense, as to the order in which things are built and where elements are set out from.

Joe insisted that the drawings were fine, and that all architects draw like that, but as builders you always know what they actually mean to say.
In general the day presented various lessons on how to build practically, how to space expansion joints, how to key the mortar between the brick bond,from setting out to choosing brick patterns.

The Post boxes took a long while to get loose. Already rusted and vandalized these unused and damaged structures have great potential, to be given a second life, and play a productive role in the community.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 13: Landscaping

The week began with a great start, the donated tress arrived on site already to be planted in their painstakingly dug holes.

It was amazing to see the effect the placement of the trees had on site. They really hold the space and soften the hard feel the site already has.

The trees are all supplemented with a short piece of piping found on site to allow for water access straight to the roots and the trees around the future water point having specially designed drainage pipes from the water stand's catchment area.

Motivated by the trees, we placed the first of our vertical elements into the equally strenously dug holes. The process of resolving the details as to how we're going to put keep the poles up (and straight) was met with a great debate ending with an agreed process of oiling the section that will be in the ground, placement of reinforced stakes into the pole and 500mm of concrete as a collar to hold the gum pole in place.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 12: Build Day 2 - SDI visit, Excavation of Waterpoints and Paving Edge, new Steel details

The first task for the day was to prepare trenches for the foundations of the new waterpoints and paving edges.

 We received a visit from the SDI who was very excited by the work happening on site.

 Discussing ideas and alterations to the steel screen details as a group.

 After a hard (Satur)day's work, we enjoyed lunch together at Frank Mapara's shop and discussed the coming week's program.

Thank you ladies for the food you prepared!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Materials still required

Thank you to all the fantastic sponsors, every little bit counts and we appreciate your contribution.

We are still in need of certain materials :

Existing steel structure
  • Steel _ 15
  • Sandpaper sanding disc _ 20
  • Grinding discs _ 3
  • Primer _ 30 litres
  • IBR sheeting (clear) _ 2 panels
  • Paint brushes _ 15

Steel panels
  • Nuts, bolts, washers _ 5bags (14x35m) bags
  • Wattle lats standard _ 60

Community centre Slab

  • Shuttering (timber planks) _ 20 (250x38mm)
  • Chicken wire _ 90m2
  • brickforce _ 2 rolls

New addition
  • bricks - 3000
  • cement 50kg bags - 25 bags (thank you Builders Warehouse!)
  • brickforce - 4 rolls Building sand 10m3

Paving of public meeting space

  • Steel pegs (500mm) - 40
  • Construction line - 4
  • Concrete lintels - 115m length
  • Pavers - 250m2
  • River sand - 50m3

New water Point
  • Pvc piping - 22mm 4m
  • Connections t-joints - 4

Post boxes to be adapted
  • Primer - 40litres
  • Paint brushes - 15
  • Turpentine - 10 bottles
  • Paint pans/buckets - 10

  • compost 10kg bags - 5 bags
  • trees Indigenous - 10
  • grass - 50m2
  • Grass blocks - 20m2

Please contact me on if you can assist with any of these.

Thank you,

Slovo Park Team

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 9:Earthworks

Today was a great success. Thanks to the generous donation of Sanyati Construction of a bobcat and a roller, for the day, the difficult and time consuming tasks of compacting earth and levelling were completed quickly. The project is beginning to take shape and the slab is ready to be cast tomorrow morning.

The first task of the day, was propping up the steel structure so that it was level with the foundation walls.The brittle existing slab which initially was meant just to be chipped, was instead broken up into small pieces, and reused as a substrate.

The bobcat moved soil into the foundation walls, where after it was levelled by hand with spades and rakes, and compacted by the roller.

Walter, the roller operator his colleagues and the community helped us set out the pegs for the paving excavation, grading and compacting it,so that stormwater does not dam in the centre.

The post boxes were moved to their final positions made level, and supported by concrete lintels.All that is left to complete is to treat the soil, so that grass does not grow, but otherwise the site is ready for the next step tomorrow morning

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 5:Casting Foundations

The pre-mix arrived before me so when I arrived there was a heap waiting to be mixed with the cement in Maparas tavern and cast into the trenches.

There was much debate as to how much should be mixed in at a time and consensus was reached to add 3 bags per cube which would be exactly all of cement.

Work commenced in the mixing of concrete just north of the building with all the debates continuing until Frank Mapara arrived with his voice of reason (he had been away at his mothers funeral who had died at the age of 115) Mapara showed them how to step the foundation and how to use a spirit level to asses the horizontally of the footing.

I left at 10am to attend a meeting with government and piki-tup with regards to their clean-up campaign which will take place on the 21st. i asked Piki-tup if we could use there TLB again and they were very obliging and stated we could have it on the 20th before there campaign.

When I returned the foundation was just about finished but needed 3 more bags of cement to be completed, so we returned to Kliptown but this time we were only given one bag of cement.

After we finished casting the foundation everyone was pretty exhausted after a very long week, we discussed what needed to be done next and resolved to think about it on Saturday.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day 6:Build Day 1

Fellow architecture students joined the construction team on Saturday, to help with the next phases of the project. The paving area, was levelled, layed out and pegged, using a dumpy level and building line.
Steel sections donated by Maristeel were donated to site, stored and ready to be made into the shading structures. Shakes, the welder of the team explained what needed to be done to the steelwork, before it was ready to be welded primed and painted.

Part of the team, helped rake and clear the site of debris

Discussions of the most practical way to carry out the laying out of the paving, made us realize how important drawings are in this process and how they need to communicate practical implementation. We learned alot.

The rest of the team, brushed and sanded the post boxes furiously, to get red of the rust and prepare the surface for priming. That will need alot of hands.

It was a short and productive day that layed the ground work for the following week.