The Better Living Challenge in Kapstadt, South-Africa

(c) pexels

The Better Living Challenge in Cape Town is a series of design-led projects that aim to improve living and housing conditions in Cape Town, South Africa

The Better Living Challenge is a series of projects that aim to surface design innovations and support the improvement of living conditions in low-income communities. In doing so, the Better Living Challenge (BLC) explores how to enable the incremental upgrading of informal settlements to enable an improvement in the comfort and quality of life of over 850,000 people living in such settlements in the Western Cape in Cape Town.

The BLC was designed to find innovative solutions to urgent or persistent socioeconomic challenges at the local level by promoting innovative products, services and systems that can serve as catalysts for change and lead to better lives.

As Erica Elk, BLC’s project manager, notes, “a three-week incubator program was able to coach 15 workers who typically construct informal dwellings. Taught in this program were very basic design, construction and business skills aimed at improving one’s job performance. The course was received with above average success, with a 100% completion rate.”

The Better Living Challenge is divided into two project sections: BLC 1 was designed as a competitive model. It ran from 2014 to 2016 and focused on developing innovative and sustainable home improvement products. BLC 2 ran from 2016 to 2019 and explored ways to support incremental home upgrades. The Better Living Challenge 2 follows a problem-solving process based on understanding user needs, collaboratively developing solutions, and bringing together people from different disciplines to find new ways to solve difficult problems, Erika Elk describes the design approach.