“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” Confucius
When the final budget was released we, as South African architects, took a critical look at the Nkandla scandal. From our point of view, a large budget of R246 million seemed to have been misspent in various inexplicable ways.
For the R 265mil spent on the current homestead and upgrades the return on investment was a secure homestead for only ONE president. A project with the potential to unify a government and its people resulted in an even larger divide between those in need and those who are in power.
In an attempt to illustrate how the same budget could have been utilised, we took a satirical approach to the matter and designed UN-kandla – a proposal which does not create a homestead for only one president but aims to create a legacy that will outlive the rule of the president.
In the proposal for Un-Kandla the concept of a Zulu kraal is adopted to represent a strong family dynamic and hierarchy of respect. As a result of corruption in our country, people have lost respect for their leaders which lead to the disruption of this hierarchy and insubordination. Referring back to the words of Confucious, what does it mean for a nation if the home is built on corruption and dishonesty?
UN-kandla is therefore a design for the community, a building that proposes to serve the people and to allow them to realize their potential without having to deplete public funds for the benefit of individuals. It is a space that intends to bring people together whereas the current design of Nkandla creates more segregation through physical and psychological barriers.
The proposed amenities which could have been provided to achieve this within the spent budget of R265mil includes a learning centre, a feeding scheme, a skills development center linked to a gallery and performance space, a rhino conservation centre, a clinic, a place of worship and entertainment and recreation facilities.
By taking a satirical approach to the matter, the proposed accommodation also includes the following:
The Father of the Nation Orphanage A symbol for that which we have lost – Nelson Mandela – and simultaneously a literal reference to the many children of President Jacob Zuma.
The Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo Women’s Shelter (#rememberkhwezi)
A reference to the rape allegations made by Kuzwayo against president Zuma. The shelter (at the president’s homestead) ironically symbolizes a place of safety for women who have been victims of sexual assault.
The Spear Rhino Conservation Centre A symbol of power and protection – “the spear” now protects the rhino (an animal threatened by the illegal trade of rhino horn). Instead of the president’s current cattle kraal at the current Nkandla development, we are proposing a rhino sanctuary which will at the same time provide for increased security measures as rhinos need to be closely monitored and secured.
The Shower Falls Waterfall
A symbol of a cleansing pool and calming streak to the Nkandla building.
Design features such as the waterfall which could be regarded as optional extras that add to the project cost is justified by savings made from unnecessary expenditures in the Nkandla project as highlighted below.
R19.6m was spent (in the current homestead) on the bunker that includes fully charged cell phones, mini closed-circuit TV rooms, accommodation, food and medical supplies. There are also four elevators and tunnels. This safe haven covers 630m2 which equals the size of approximately 3.4 tennis courts.
We are proposing to use these funds as follow:
-To build The Father of the Nation Orphanage that consists of 315m2 able to accommodate 78 children.
-The remaining 315m2 is then divided into 4mx4m rooms that can each be shared by two women thus accommodating 38 women.
Therefore, shelter can be provided to a total of 117 people.
If we calculate the construction costs at a rate of R8000 p/m2, the cost of the women’s shelter and orphanage adds up to approximately R5 040 000 which equals a saving of R 14.56 million.
The staff village
In the current homestead, the staff village accommodates 20 people in an area of 2500m2. An area of125m2 per person added to a total cost of R 17.5m - approximately R 750 000 per house.
However, the only purpose of this accommodation is to provide temporary accommodation for employees and could therefore have been designed to cover a much smaller area. An alternative solution could have been to encourage people to stay at the nearby villages (also furthermore supporting the local economy).
R4 mil could have been allocated to this budget to create on-site accommodation only needing to consist of 300m2.
The cost of the military clinic in Nkandla which remains closed and unused to this day came to R11.9m.
We are proposing a clinic which is accessible to the public to provide in the shortage of healthcare services in the surrounding areas. The available budget (compromising of the funds saved on the bunker, staff housing, double fence ect.) could provide for the construction of a 100 bed clinic.
The current homestead covers a large area surrounded by a massive fence - a physical barrier approached in the most conventional manner to secure the presidents courters which could have preserved the landscape and saved state funds if approached more innovatively. This barrier, including improvements made to the homesteads makes Nkandla exclusive to the President and his family and excludes the surrounding community. In sharp contrast to this, the outer wall of Un-Kandla is carefully designed to allow people to infiltrate the complex, creating a welcoming atmosphere rather than one of exclusion.
A graphic representation (architectural) of what the 246 mil ZAR presidents homestead in Nkandla could have been.
Created by Architecture for a change (pty)ltd
For the people of South Africa
Politicians from many walks of life gathering amongst people visiting Un-kandla. The "kraal" building shape creates a safe haven for visitors.
The Zulu "kraal" inspired the new shape of the presidents homestead. Its a strong reference to vernacular architecture of Africa. From this view you can also see the new swimming / fire pool. In contrast to the current fire pool at Nkandla, this pool is open for public enjoyment.
The facade system is also inspired by transitional African architecture. The intervention includes an waterfall. Here people can be baptized. Its also a satirical comment on the "shower head".
The current Nkandla homestead house a cattle "Kraal" for the presidents personal animals. Un-kandla provides space for a Rhino sanctuary. These animals need protection, and they will receive this from the high security needed for the presidents house.
Un-Kandla will also house Umshimi Wam paintball, Father of the nation Orphanage, and The Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo Women’s Shelter (as explained in the text).