Research Health 2018

Children growing up in poor versus affluent neighborhoods are more likely to spend time in prison, develop health problems and die at an early age. The question of how neighborhood conditions influence our behavior and health has attracted the attention of public health officials and scholars for generations. Online tools are now providing new opportunities to measure neighborhood features and may provide a cost effective way to advance our understanding of neighborhood effects on child health.

The community and its contest.
Alexandra, informally abbreviated to Alex, is a township in the Gauteng province of South Africa. It forms part of the city of Johannesburg and is located near the upper-class suburb of Sandton (Southern Africa’s richest mile). In contrast to Sandton, Alexandra is one of the poorest urban areas in the country. In addition to its original, reasonably well-built houses, it also has a large number (estimated at more than 20,000) of informal dwellings or "shacks". Alexandra was established in 1912, and has a rich political history within South Africa.

Aims and focus of the project.
With so many advances in technology new tools of assessment have become available for free to influence our research and design process. The aim of the project is to use a virtual systematic social observation (SSO) study to assess / test whether Google Street View could be used to reliably capture a neighbourhood’s conditions. From these mappings / assessments we will strategize and brainstorm some design solutions.


Our systematic social observation (SSO) through Google Street View and Survey data showed the following.
Houses in poor or badly deteriorated condition.
Poses significant health risks.
Poor Sanitation
Causes mental health issues

The only hospital in the area is outside of Alexandra
75% of the people have no access to health or social services
Only 1 drug and alcohol centre and mental health clinic for the whole of Alexandra

Excess of waste causes stress, anxiety and depression.
Increase in diseases and infection


Our assessments helped us strategize and brainstorm some design solutions.
As a WASTE issue identified design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for:
Implement more trash cans and other waste disposal methods around the whole of Alexandra
Increase waste collection services. Since Alexandra is overpopulated, waste has to be collected more regularly.

As STORMWATER was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for:
Improve or implement drainage systems to help reduce stormwater runoff and associated non-point source pollution.

As INFORMAL HOUSES was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for:
Build low-cost houses according to the needs and preferences of the people in Alexandra.
Insulate houses
Use “eco-bricks” made from plastic to build houses. It will serve as a thermal insulator while also helping with recycling the plastic waste in the area.

As LACK OF HEALTHCARE CENTRES AND FACILITIES was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for:
Promote the importance of preventive services
Build more healthcare clinics so people from all over Alexandra can access them easily
Portable health clinics

As SPORTS AND RECREATIONAL CENTRES was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for:
Create and promote more recreational centres.
Repair and improve existing recreational centres
Use the vacant land to create soccer fields and parks for people to spend their time in.