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Textile structures have been refined over centuries by the nomadic and indigenous tribes of the Middle East, Africa and the Americas, yet despite the desperate need worldwide for affordable housing, the advantages of such simple, efficient and sustainable solutions have generally been ignored in favour of profit-driven, energy intensive, ecologically damaging construction practices. The integration of architextiles in South Africa’s built environment holds significant benefits and forms part of a host of opportunities for development in this sector towards more sustainable practices. South Africa with its distinctive history, its diverse socio-cultural mix and current economic standing presents real-life prospects for the implementation of architectural structures using environmentally friendly materials and unique construction methods to meet the demand for more sustainable residential buildings. Textiles offer unconventional, yet proven effective, solutions to various challenges faced by segments of the South African population and, depending on the application, can address many needs that are currently not met by conventional construction practices.
A Southern Perspective on the Use of Textiles in Sustainable Residential Architecture