The reCOVER initiative, under a Jefferson Public Citizen Grant, brings together academic, civic and professional organizations to address tangible needs through design. In partnership with the University of Virginia’s Water and Health in Limpopo project; the University of Venda in Thohoyandou, South Africa; the Mukondeni Pottery Cooperative; and the Arup Cause Program, the reCOVER team of four undergraduate design students under the direction of graduate student mentor, Erin Root, and Professor Anselmo Canfora, has focused on a multi-phased, multi-sectorial implementation strategy of a ceramic water filter factory and landscape design prototype. The design is a product of cultural immersion, environmental sensitivity, and resource propagation The first phase of construction begins summer 2013, beginning with the factory and landscape design.
Forty-five potters currently work at the Mukondeni Pottery Cooperative, featuring their regional craft as a part of a pottery route in South Africa. University of Virginia students collaborated with the University of Venda to develop a ceramic water filter, comprised of materials found on-site and fired in kilns. The women now produce these filters through an extensive process spanning days, involving drying, mixing, molding, pressing, more drying, and firing. In conjunction with a business strategy and educational center, our role as designers became to provide facilities for the various expanding activities on-site. These facilities include a factory for the production of filters, studio for the making of traditional pottery, community center and outdoor classroom for educational exchange, and a terracing and tree propagation strategy for the long-term erosion resilience and sustainability of firing.
Each building plays an important role in the overall sustainability of the project. The Filter Factory is crucial for the economic sustainability of the business. Forty-five potters are dependent on the sales of filters. Furthermore, efficient production of the filters contributes to the greater clean water movement in South Africa. The community center becomes an open door to the village of Hamashamba, facilitating a learning exchange and providing the space for gatherings, meetings, and performances. Equally important is the pottery studio, which maintains a separate space to sustain the tradition of the region’s unique pottery style.
Our 2012 summer report and newsletter can be accessed here.