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The influence of culture on the acceptability of community residential units (CRU): a case study of uMlazi T-section, Durban KwaZulu-Natal.

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The development of housing in the context of culture has been an issue that has not received much attention and/or considered within the South African context. The post-1994 era saw a transferring of culture and cultural practices within the built environment of hostels living and lifestyle through urbanisation. During the apartheid era, black people were exposed to two types of housing typology; one which allowed them to practice their culture freely, and the other which limited them in all aspects. Housing in rural areas allowed for black people to practice their culture freely through its house-form layout, whereas housing in urban areas presented limitations and restricted all forms of cultural practices. The study aims at establishing and assessing whether CRUs are responsive to cultural needs, norms and practices. Information was gathered through qualitative and quantitative methods in forming a relationship between housing and culture. Qualitative information was gathered through human behavioural and development theories such as the Durkheimian and Modernists theories that were used in conceptualising the study whilst creating a link and relationship, and government documents. Quantitative information was gathered through household surveys which were conducted in the community of Wema and a focus group discussion was held in Unit 17 and interviews were conducted with the superintendents representing the eThekwini Municipality. This research revealed that post-1994 housing especially the CRUs do not take into cognisance households’ cultural values. This is reflected in the nature of housing which is not free-standing while certain facilities within and outside the units are shared thereby depriving households of privacy. However, the study also established that there are people who value the ease and convenience of single living and temporary housing depending on economy and their family’s financial need. The study recommended that the government should incorporate an environment that is supportive of culture and family living. It also noted that there is need for development of housing on short-tenure basis for people for people who do not want to settle with their families permanently in urban areas and those who are only seeking employment opportunities.


Master’s Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.