The South African built environment landscape has 2 very clear systems that operate completely separately from each other. This does have a much broader impact socially and culturally, however that is a much more complex subject. This small essay is to try focus on the domestic built environment here in SA. Try and create some perspective and dialogue to allow some much needed level headed reasoning to prevail.
The tale of these two built environments needs to be told as a matter of urgency, because each has positives that can be gained from each other. Sadly and frustratingly the rate things are now going , each of these 2 built environment systems is doing its level best to completely ignore the other and grow in completely separate directions. To the complete detriment of everyone. Alarmingly at no point in the future do these 2 entities look like they will ever align, And this is very worrying
Without complicating this discussion, we need to separate public building works and the industrialized built environment. In this discussion its only the domestic built environments that need to be carefully looked at. and the process of plans regulation and planning submissions. The domestic built environment is a multi billion Rand industry and needs to be working smoothly for job creation and a sustainable economy. jobs are being held up by bureaucratic systems that are fanatically over regulating the building plans submission and approval process.
the two built environments are
1) the formal domestic built environment , which is completely over regulated by council bureaucratic red tape fanatics , who at municipal level find every reason why plans should not be approved. Its becoming completely ludicrous that the built environment planning system is holding up simple building jobs for well over a year or more. This is now costing the public billions in inflation costs and wasted time. To add to the complete frustration these municipal fanatics constantly fiddle with zoning scheme regulations , change submission procedures and change submission forms. Not to mention their new computer submission system going off line for days on end and also wiping submission flash drives completely clean of all information. forcing the professionals to rescan everything once again. (at a cost of course) The knock on effect of this insanity is that the architectural professional is left looking less than professional in front of a totally irate client. This over regulation and constant changing of regulation procedures and complete disregard for architectural professionals, public and builders waiting to build, is now completely out of control.
2) informal built environment in this system the rules and regulations are no where near as restrictive. building plans are not needed for building work within these communities , street committees decide on all matters within these communities and building work is happening faster than one can keep up. municipalities dont regulate these communities with the same vice like grip as they display in the formal sector. i would be surprised if a building inspector is able to control the full impact of the informal domestic work going up.
it appears that the municipalities here in cape town, inspect, regulate and monitor the first system fervently, whilst giving the second built environment a wave through of the hand. surely an equal medium should be reached between the two.
both systems have merit – if ones plans clearly have notes like, all building work to be in accordance with the relevant national building regulations and performed by qualified and registered contractors to meet with local authority regulations. and a structural engineer will be appointed by the owner of the property to check and approve structural integrity of design. etc etc. surely one doesn’t now still have to put every single note that is in the national building regs onto ones plans. their are plans examiners in cape town who spend days writing essays of notes that are found in the national building regs, for professionals to painstakingly add to documents , which takes a long time. – surely linking ones plans to this massive document is enough, surely making sure the owner knows that he needs to appoint suitably qualified contractors and a structural engineer will take care of the detail. once plans have passed zoning and scrutiny fees are paid , surely it should be a easy enough approval stamp.
so we have 1 system that is completely over regulated and getting worse and another system that completely is allowed to go forward largely unregulated. surely we can find a system that works down the middle somewhere.
hopefully the council for the built environment can start solving this massive issue which is bringing an entire industry to its knees. crippling job creation and holding up the economy. the SA economy needs work to be created – it cannot be created if the very building plans are being help up for years due to petty mindedness.
a solution and an equal way forward needs to be found asap – or we sink further in the red tape.
having worked with many structural engineers, vivaladraughts personal experience has been – they are brilliant at analytical , mathematical , formula thinking. and many of them have told architectural designers, flat out – “they cannot do what the architectural designer does” – ie to design in the emotion of the structure. they use formula’s and mathematics to make sure the skyhook structure works. the working together of these 2 very different minds is critical to the outcome of the project.
simply put – if the one dabbles to much in the domain of the other – the end product will either fail or be a cold shell.
so now as a new day dawns and calculations dominate my creative design process – we give rise to the calcutect – this new form of creative design process is threatening the very fabrics and tools architectural designers work with – calcutecture is now written into our constitution by law and enforced by municipalities country wide – the advent of the analytical accountant like creative – supercedes the emotional creative – we are entering an era of small windows and large walls.
architecture is now dead – behold the rise calcutecture.
Are all professional architectural designers in the South African built environment landscape now finding it exceedingly difficult to get plans approved in the formal domestic sector? And hence are now finding it very, very difficult to earn a living. I have been walking plans and designing homes for over 20 years now. – I now find with all the new legislation and regulations being created by our regulatory body and the constant changing and fiddling of a system that worked – we are now left having to push a very over weighted , red tape animal up a very impossible hill. Regrettably this unchecked red tape hill is getting much steeper as the days progress. My main concern through all this regulatory body micro management is we now have 2 South African domestic built environment landscapes that have emerged. Running in exact opposite and contrasting directions and looking to never ever meet on any level in the future what so ever. creating 2 very different south african mindsets.
1) The over regulated domestic formal sector – which has now become a very financially viably, micro policed and regulated formal built environment.
2) And the absolutely under regulated or absolutely no council regulations at all, informal settlement built environment. our very own, unique south african, big city, frontier towns.
It is absolutely imperative that both the above built environment arenas should be policed and regulated with equal attention and measure. SA’s informal settlement frontier towns are growing at an alarming rate, right alongside our domestic formal cities. The families that live within these under regulated communities are suffering immensely, whilst the regulatory bodies focus all attention on ways to create financial opportunity through regulation of the formal domestic built environment. It appears our regulatory body is letting the public down massively, in both sectors. Extracting large volumes of cash from a formal home owner awaiting and wanting to build. Holding up plans approval and costing the SA home owner millions of rands, whilst appearing to not even bother creating built environment boundaries or regulations within the informal settlement sector.
I implore reasonable minds to help stop this machine – to insist regulatory bodies regulate with good sense – and let not the easy gain of money, be the reason to grind working South African systems to a complete and utter standstill. Applying first world legislation being hugely funded by ist world countries, within an African system only forces 2 streams to emerge – this is not the way to regulate SA. We need reasonable minds to prevail, we need good sense to come to the fore. we need people who are passionate about people and living conditions to regulate – money should not talk to the detriment of an existing professional platform.
vivaladraught – An absolutely exasperated and extremely desperate architectural professional.
SATAM – south african totalitarian architectural machine
vivaladraughts little cousin Vinny, a 3 year old pre-schooler is regulating the tuckshop line at his pre-school. he is creating his own regulating / protection body and making sure he is teaching the other pre-schoolers these protection tactics. for this he charges a fee, as well as fees for the important lessons he is teaching. vinny believes that by protecting the public from pre-schoolers and regulating the tuckshop line – he is building the future of his pre-school.
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