Modern homes in the new age

    With the focus on ecological design and the move towards prefabrication in building processes, creative thinkers in the fields of architecture have cottoned onto building homes with a thought-provoking and ecologically sensitive solution - shipping container architecture.

    Shipping container architecture is a form of architecture using steel intermodal containers (shipping containers) as the structural element, because of their inherent strength, wide availability and relatively low cost.

    When futurist Stewart Brand needed a place to assemble all the material he needed to write How Buildings Learn, he converted a shipping container into office space, and wrote up the conversion process in the same book.

    In 2006, Southern California Architect Peter DeMaria, designed the first two story shipping container home in the U.S. as an approved structural system under the strict guidelines of the nationally recognized Uniform Building Code (UBC). This home was the Redondo Beach House and it inspired the creation of Logical Homes, a cargo container based pre-fabricated home company. In 2007, Logical Homes created their flagship project - the Aegean, for the Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Also in 2006, the Dutch company Tempohousing finished in Amsterdam the biggest container village in the world: 1,000 student homes from modified shipping containers from China.

    Several architects, such as Adam Kalkin have since built original homes, using discarded shipping containers for their parts or using them in their original form, or doing a mix of both.

    Source: Wikipedia

    Container Homes

    Wave energy project

    The pioneer of renewable energy sources in South Africa, Hermann Oelsner of Wave Energy Generation, recently revealed that South Africa's south-western coast is a good location for a wave energy project and is investigating the feasibility of this project.

    With the south-western coastline being exposed to an energetic wave regime generated by eastwards-moving, low pressure systems in the south Indian and south Atlantic oceans, and the presence of tropical cyclones in the western Indian Ocean, South Africa has an abundant wave energy resource available for wave energy conversion. It is currently estimated that South Africa's coast line has a mean annual average deep-sea wave power of about 42 kW/m, dropping to 39 kW/m near the shore.

    Using wave energy converter technology that was originally designed by Stellenbosch University and developed by the privately funded Ocean Energy Research Group (established at Stellenbosch University), Hermann Oelsner foresees meeting an ambitious target of 770 MW of generation capability.

    This technology, more commonly referred to as Swec (Stellenbosch Wave Energy Converter) consists of a pair of submerged collectors (arms) coupled in a V-formation to an air turbine and generator mounted above the water level at the apex of the V. Each collector arm consists of 12 oscillating water column chambers in which air is displaced through inlet and outlet valves to low- and high- pressure air turbine manifold systems. Each V has the capability of generating up to 5 MW.

    The possibility to implement this indigenous design of a number of submerged V-shaped collector arms along 40 km of the Western Cape coast as a cost-effective way to harvest wave energy, is now actively being persued by Wave Energy Generation company, who is currently engaged in the process of attracting investors and securing funding for the first 5-MW demonstration phase.

    Source: Engineering News

    Wave Energy

    Plant Nutrients

    Sixteen chemical elements are known to be important to a plant's growth and survival. The sixteen chemical elements are divided into two main groups: non-mineral and mineral. This month we look at the Non-Mineral Nutrients.

    The Non-Mineral Nutrients are hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), & carbon (C). These nutrients are found in the air and water.

    In a process called photosynthesis, plants use energy from the sun to change carbon dioxide (CO2 - carbon and oxygen) and water (H2O- hydrogen and oxygen) into starches and sugars. These starches and sugars are the plant's food and since plants get carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from the air and water, there is little farmers and gardeners can do to control how much of these nutrients a plant can use.


    Stop over at the oasis of the Orange River

    When travelling from Cape Town to Namibia or on the way back, a well-deserved overnight stop is at the Vioolsdrif border on the South African side of the Orange River.

    For the excited traveller venturing into Namibia for the first time, this location allows a short time to marvel at the differing geological structures and to get a taste of the arid environment soon to be encountered.

    And on the return journey back into South Africa, the green oasis on the edge of the river provides the weary traveller the respite needed from the constant searing heat and provides that extra bit of rejuvenation required for the 6 hour drive back to Cape Town.

    The name Vioolsdrif in Afrikaans means 'the ford or shallow river crossing of the violin'. It is reportedly named after Jan Viool ("John Violin"), who is said to have played the fiddle in those parts in the nineteenth century. Some say he was a Nama man, who used to guide ox-wagons across the river. An accomplished player, he would fiddle away merrily on the river bank while waiting for wagons to arrive.

    A highly recommended overnight location, whether in a chalet, a camper van or in a tent, is Aquacade Camp located 10km from the border to Namibia on the N7 on a small Lucerne farm. Located on the edge of the Orange river, Aquacade Camp is a green oasis in the surrounding desert-like environment.

    The grassed camp is fully equipped with self catering chalets and individual campsites screened off from one another, each fitted with a kitchen counter, a sink, table and chairs under a reed thatch, providing the extra protection against the hot sun during the peak times of the day. The camp also has various braai facilities (individual and communal), a bar, swimming pool and activities like fishing, swimming and river rafting.

    For more information visit Aquacade's Website

    Aquacade Photos: i-shoot photography

Hot News

Next training courses

Living Matter will be providing the next session of training courses in December 2009. Sign up now to ensure your place is booked.

These courses are aimed at individuals who would like to get to understand the basics of designing or styling a garden for themselves and to enable them to apply their skills and knowledge to their exterior living space at home.

Courses Available :

  • Basics of Garden Design
  • Styling your Garden

    Visit our website for more information.

    Living Matter is hiring

    Living Matter is currently canvasing for a promising Landscape Design Assistant to join the design team in March 2010.

    CV's are currently being reviewed and screened, and interviews will be held in the new year.

    View the available position now or send your cv to us via


    Agapanthus Africanus Albus

    Agapanthus Africanus Albus
    (African Lily)

    Family :


    Description :

    Indigenous small plant to 1m with white bulb of flowers on a single stem.

    Flowering time :

    Spring / Summer

    Conditions :

    • Semi shade
    • Lots of Water
    • Evergreen
    • Some frost tender
    • Wind resistant

    Christmas Ecards by The Pixel Zoo

    The end of the year is drawing near! Why not do something for the environment and this year send out a personalised Seasons Greetings or Christmas Ecard.

    The Pixel Zoo Ecard

    The Pixel Zoo has created an amusing and heart warming selection of festive e-cards that can be purchased and customized to send out to your clients / business associates or friends / family.

    They can also design a custom ecard to your specifications, from a simple animation to an interactive online tool / game.

    Visit their website for more information.

    Brain Teaser

    We all love a chance to test our own brain capacity with brain teasers. Try see if you can figure out this one...

    Brain Teaser
    October's Teaser Answer :
    "Down Town"


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    Contact Cheral:

    Cell: 082 82 509 82