passive solar, roof water catchment, compost toilet, solar hot water, grey water to permaculture gardens..  

Thlolego Development Project - South Africa(TDP), located one hour west of Johannesburg, South Africa, provides a rural educational environment based on ecological principles. It is situated on 300 acres of semi-arid land below the 3 billion year old Magaliesburg mountain range. For the past nine years, TDP has developed models for the design and implementation of sustainable land use and village settlements within the context of the local farm worker community. Tshedimosong School, which lies within TDP's land, is being developed as an example of an ecologically designed rural farm school.

Lelapa - Model Rural Homestead


earth bricks made using local materials and labor

This homestead integrates basic needs provision into the design of the house and grounds. This is achieved using local and biological resources and ecological design principles, such as the use of solar energy for heating water, a compost toilet for recycling human waste, a large cistern for roof water catchment, passive solar design of the house for increased heating and cooling and a grey-water system to recycle the kitchen's water into the small scale permaculture garden.

Holocene's role in this design was to integrate the needs of the TDP staff into a conceptual design. This design work included refining TDP's preliminary  work on systems such as compost toilets and gray water recycling.

Lelapa during construction
lelapa just completed

The earth wall construction was designed and built by Brian Woodward and the TDP staff. Brian is an architect from Australia, who over the last 15 years has redefined the use of mud bricks into an extremely simple and sophisticated way of building. Within their cultural and geographical constraints, we have yet to find a lower embodied energy home with as much ecological sophistication and landscape integration.

Several of these homesteads have  been built at Tlholego, and further research is being carried out into the application of this system as a prototype for rural development in South Africa.

Lelapa after construction

natural pest control and vegetables thrive on gray water

Proposed housing for Tlholego village

village design drawn together by holocene Holocene engaged in participatory visioning and design with the residents of Tlholego. This drawing shows a vision for the future village. The grounds (comprising a residential training facility, demonstration gardens for botanical research and food production, water harvesting and sanitation systems, energy efficient buildings and a community wood and metal workshop) have been designed and developed based on ecological design and permaculture.