Spanning 26 hectares, the Boystown housing development in South Africa’s Western Cape, provides families formerly housed in informal settlements with safe, affordable housing in a community setting. The project team at SMEC worked with delivery partner Martin & East to form the turnkey operation, Vula Joint Venture (JV), to successfully deliver this important community development.

Vital housing project delivers new homes for families from informal settlements

SMEC’s scope included all site infrastructure and the development of turnkey housing components to successfully deliver a high-performance, low-cost solution. SMEC was appointed in 2010 and was responsible for the design of all civil, structural, some electrical, and geotechnical services, as well as construction monitoring. Construction was phased across three stages, with the handover of the final stage completed in September 2022.


The Solution

Large quantities of bulk earthworks were required to deal with previous informal rubble and prepare the site and facilitate the new road network. Three new stormwater retention ponds have been introduced to improve water and water runoff quality. In addition to carrying out the structural design for the housing, the town planning layout was amended by SMEC to avoid any roads running parallel to the development’s boundary wall, which is adjacent to the heavily-trafficked N2 highway. Serving as a safety measure for residents, the large boundary wall also acts as a barrier to noise pollution from the highway and nearby airport. The homes, which are painted in aesthetically pleasing earthy tones, are 40m2 in size with properties varying between 100m2 and 125m2.


During the project, SMEC assisted the client, Western Cape Government, Department of Human Settlements, in applying for a Municipal Infrastructure Grant and associated funding as part of the Upgrading of Informal Settlement Programme (UISP). The development also contains infrastructure for three pockets of public open spaces for recreation, three worship sites, two commercial sites and space for four designated community.


Decanting and temporary relocation of residents was a key consideration for the project to navigate tension and unrest. SMEC, as part of the Vula JV, worked closely with the client and the Housing Development Agency (HDA) to develop a detailed stakeholder engagement strategy. This included the creation of a project steering committee to maintain continuous, regular communication with the local community and beneficiaries.  Community faction disputes resulted in many implementation delays and interference in the completion of the project; however, local community participation, patience and perseverance were key to the project’s ultimate success.  The project also provided job opportunities and training, helping the local community to gain experience in the construction industry.


The Impact

Reflecting on the completion of the project, Johan Basson, Function Manager: Urban Development said, “The completion of Boystown provides a benchmark for quality, low-cost housing solutions in South Africa. SMEC is proud to contribute to vital social inclusion for residents, with new roads and services providing critical infrastructure for the local community”.


Minister Tertuis Simmers, Western Cape Provincial Minister of Infrastructure said: “This handover marks the end of what has been a challenging yet fulfilling journey as we have successfully assisted qualifying beneficiaries. I would like to extend my gratitude to all stakeholders, particularly the contractors and communities for ensuring that the handovers could occur.”[1]


Project phases:

  • Triangle Site Housing Development: 154 units – Completed 2012.
  • Boystown Housing Development Phase 1: 503 units – Completed 2012.
  • Boystown Housing Development Phase 2: 460 units – Completed 2019
  • Boystown Housing Development Phase 3: 328 units – Completed 2022.

Additional phases currently in progress:

  • Sheffield Road Housing Development: 388 units – To be completed 2024.
residential plots
of roads
of water lines
of sewer lines
stormwater retention ponds
of stormwater lines


Talk to one of our specialists about our role on the Boystown Housing Development Project.