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A Green Corner in Inner City
Source: City Of Joburg Newsletter
Source Date: Friday, October 14, 2011
Focus: E-Education
Country: South Africa
Created: Oct 14, 2011

Mabule Mokhine, GHP’s programme manager, says: “We inherited the old Parks Agency maintenance depot, which included an old potting shed and various other brick and prefab buildings. We needed to start building our vision of a ‘people’s environmental centre’ by establishing a project office.

“Our dilemma was: do we build something new, or do we embrace our green principles of re-using and recycling and renovating an existing building? We chose the latter, by taking the old potting shed ‘frog’ and transforming it into a handsome ‘princely’ home for our organisation.”

Green building means the construction of durable, reliable and functional structures, using sustainable environmentally sound principles. On its website, the GreenHouse Project points out: “Considerations of technical sustainability start with the requirement that structures are able to withstand the destructive forces of nature.”


Mokhine says: “Our aim is to share, teach and inspire. The emphasis has been on testing and sharing methods with GHP staff, project partners, decision makers and interested members of the public. Part of this was through ‘learn and build’ workshops and part through documentation of experiences.”

Sustainable
The project has three main focuses:

·         Providing a working demonstration of sustainable ways to plan, build, landscape, manage energy, water and material resources;

·         Supporting organisations working to improve the urban environment, particularly community-based organisations; and

·         Disseminating information that will enable individuals in all sectors of society to sustainably improve the quality of life in their communities.

The site for the GreenHouse People’s Environmental Centre in Joubert Park was handed over to the GHP in January 2002. The first phase of work included establishing a demonstration food garden, beginning a living willow boundary wall and converting the existing potting shed to offices.

Permaculture gardens were also planted. Today, the willow wall is finished and major renovations are being done to the green house and the surrounding area to make room for the large quantities of fruit and vegetables the project aims to grow.

Renovations

In time, the renovations will include:

·         Changes to the historic Victorian-style conservatory, which is intended to serve the general public and the GHP;

·         Setting up an interim recycling centre;

·         Constructing a double-storey building using various earth building techniques to serve as the new office of the GHP;

·         Converting the potting shed offices into a resource and training centre, and building an earth berm and viewing ramp;

·         Adding a recycling depot, maintenance workshops and off-street parking; and

·         Constructing a triple-storey office building, demonstrating some high-tech environmental solutions, for rental and retail space.

The green interventions have been strongly influenced by permaculture, which is a design system used for creating sustainable human environments. Permaculture deals with the relationship between buildings, infrastructure and plants, created by the way they are placed in the environment. It emphasises recycling of resources.


In time, the renovations will include:

·         Changes to the historic Victorian-style conservatory, which is intended to serve the general public and the GHP;

·         Setting up an interim recycling centre;

·         Constructing a double-storey building using various earth building techniques to serve as the new office of the GHP;

·         Converting the potting shed offices into a resource and training centre, and building an earth berm and viewing ramp;

·         Adding a recycling depot, maintenance workshops and off-street parking; and

·         Constructing a triple-storey office building, demonstrating some high-tech environmental solutions, for rental and retail space.

The green interventions have been strongly influenced by permaculture, which is a design system used for creating sustainable human environments. Permaculture deals with the relationship between buildings, infrastructure and plants, created by the way they are placed in the environment. It emphasises recycling of resources.

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