South Africa has taken a huge step toward modern housing by developing a project that provides homes for students at affordable costs. The initiative, known as the Mill Junction project, belongs to Citiq Property Developers and is located in the South African capital of Johannesburg, more specifically in Newtown.
The innovative aspect of this housing project, which was initiated within as little as one year, lies in its combined use of abandoned properties and repurposed materials to build housing solutions at reasonable costs for nearly four hundred students studying at the various universities and colleges in the surrounding area.
The complex is made of two former grain silos structured into ten floors, with windows on the front side, which support four floors of shipping containers in various colours fixed to the sides and top of the unique-looking building. In this context, the contribution of various shipping lines to this large-scale project must also be noted.
However, despite the apparently limited material use, the complex provides an extensive range of facilities for proper student living. The students living within the complex have access to communal kitchens, study areas, recreation rooms, a library and even a gym while also being provided a Wi-Fi network and many more. The bedrooms should also be noted in this context for they offer impressive panoramic views over the city of Johannesburg, as does the rooftop, which has been astro-turfed. In other words, the student housing complex is designed to both ensure both the necessary conditions for proper student life and activity and encourage socialisation between its residents.
The Mill Junction complex was also built bearing in mind the limited and specific financial possibilities of its residents, these considerations also reflecting in the design of the building itself, which stands out as innovative not only from an aesthetic point of view, but also from that of its environmental friendliness. The use of silos and shipping containers as building materials for environmentally-friendly purposes is complemented by various energy-conserving features, starting with the installation of motion sensors and continuing with that of heat pumps to ensure hot water availability or that of double-gazed windows. According to the developer, these various features are designed to ensure an energy consumption up to fifty per cent lower than that of a conventional building. However, these numbers have not yet been confirmed.
Of course, however good the cause behind the Mill Junction project, opinions with regard to the practicality of this innovative housing initiative are split, some of the main concerns dealing with a number of architectural details such as potential solar heat gain or improper insulation. However, a consensus has been reached in at least two distinct aspects, namely in terms of its notable aesthetic contribution to the city of Johannesburg and, second of all, in terms of its potential to provide a solution to a major social problem that South Africa has been facing for a an extended period of time.
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