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“We can make homeplace that space where we return for renewal and self-recovery, where we can heal our wounds and become whole”

(bell hooks, 1991)

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Prototypes are samples or models of a concept to be rolled out more extensively, once tested and proven.

Prototypes are intuitive, engaging and often innovative responses to user needs.

Prototypes require and enable research to determine the value of the product, the replicability at scale, and the improvements or adaptations to be made.

Here, a number of hopeful prototypes are previewed – 

hopeful in their responses to society’s harsh exclusions; in their offering of the first steps towards home – belonging and becoming – through combining a building and care; hopeful in demonstrating the possibility of safe and secure spaces within largely violent and tenuous cities. 

The prototypes featured here are mostly found in the City of Tshwane, incubated by the Tshwane Leadership Foundation and Yeast City Housing. Glimpses into other cities and spaces are also offered. 

Older persons and homelessness: The Inn & Tau Village

In 2015, through the Pathways out of Homelessness research project, it was recognized that older homelessness was a growing feature in the City of Tshwane.


People only reliant on state pensions, with no other social or family support, are often unable to access affordable housing in the market, rendering them homeless.

During the hard lockdown in Covid-19, the Tshwane Leadership Foundation and social housing company Yeast City Housing, opened two new facilities in response to this crisis. 

In Tau Village, a mixed-income and mixed-use social housing facility, a 19-bed frail care unit was opened for older homeless persons. 


Hofmeyr House, a social housing project in the inner city, was re-baptized to now be known as The Inn, accommodating 36 older homeless persons permanently as part of a 54-unit social housing project. 

These are pilot projects – truly prototype developments – that, if viable, should be replicated across the city, to ensure the eradication of street homelessness among older persons. 

Beautiful provocations 

Overcoming the vulnerability of homelessness requires both physical infrastructure and social care. One of the overlooked resources in finding renewed agency and self-confidence, is to be surrounded by beauty. 

Homeless solutions can and should be beautiful. This too should be a basic right, every human being deserves: to access, celebrate and make beauty.

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