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A stylish residential container development in Joburg is feeding the country’s growing demand for large-scale low-cost housing.

Residential container developments are growing in popularity, with South Africa’s first such large-scale low-cost housing solution ready for occupation in the Maboneng precinct. 

The 104 apartments in this mixed-use and residential building – Drivelines – measure 30m2 to 45m2, and the three retail spaces are 62m2 to 196m2 in size. This project is the latest from Propertuity and promotes its long-standing ethos of creating innovative spaces that challenge conventional ideas of city living. 

Furthermore, the core focus points of community and creativity mean no two developments are the same. Drivelines, conceived and implemented with the award-winning New York-based architecture firm and upcycling experts LOT-EK, sets the standard for sustainable and affordable housing. 

Co-founder Giuseppe Lignano says this proves this property segment can also strive to a higher aesthetic ideal. 

“The imperatives of high aesthetic standards and a relevant urban solution were the driving force behind the concept.” 

The design-forward project, which comprises a multi-level structure created from shipping containers, epitomises the spirit of regeneration, sustainability and collaboration that both Propertuity and LOT-EK embody, Lignano says, adding that it also serves as an inspiration for other developers. 

“Having generated a lot of interest among the public, it’s clearly speaking to an audience looking for an alternative style of living.” 

As a rental-only development, it fills a niche for mobile residents who want a certain lifestyle experience, but don’t want to own property. With rentals starting at R2 900 for a sharing option, Drivelines answers a need for reasonably priced but desirable city living spaces in South Africa. 

It also illustrates the potential for clever design, compact spaces and economical resource-management to converge on something original. Driveline is geared towards young people looking for affordable housing, but who want to live in quality spaces, Lignano says. 

Exterior view Picture: Drivelines

The units are compact but full of light, with large windows, each with its own outdoor space. Wide walkways encourage engagement with neighbours and the activation of these public areas. 

Designed cleverly and with a contemporary aesthetic, the development is community-focused and built in such a way as to encourage residents to interact with one another. While this long-term and wide-reaching project is probably Propertuity’s most high profile development, it is not its only success story, says company founder and chief executive Jonathan Liebmann. 

Durban has also benefitted from the company’s big-picture thinking by way of the Rivertown project, also a previously industrial zone that Propertuity has redeveloped. “Cities are a platform from which people can connect with each other to explore better ways of living, working and producing,” he says. 

Although Drivelines is the country’s first large-scale residential container development, other container buildings do exist. In Melville, Joburg, a 2 600m2 retail centre constructed from shipping containers opened in 2015. 

Developed by Citiq Property Developers, 27 Boxes has a mix of tenants, including fashion retailers and restaurants, and was inspired by a pop-up contained mall in London called Box Park. Another affordable container-housing development block in Windsor East, Joburg, developed by Jika Properties, was completed in 2012. Sixty One on Countesses is made up of 20 containers transformed into 15 units. 

A similar project, The Mill Junction, opened in Newtown, also in Joburg, in 2014.



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