Oude Molen Eco Village: An eco-friendly haven in the centre of Cape Town

Oude Molen Eco Village

Winner: Sudley Adams Memorial Award

What was once a disused hospital complex on 14 hectares of land alongside the Pinelands wetlands in Cape Town is now the vibrant Oude Molen Eco Village.

Working off the “planet, people, profit” principle coined by John Elkington in 1994, plus sustainable neighbourhood development practice, the eco-village ensures affordable rentals that allow small and creative enterprises to flourish.

All 55 tenants have been selected based on their synergy and commitment to sustainable environmental practice, job creation and youth development focus.

They all complement one another and produce a vibrant local and international tourism destination over and above the many products and services produced for communities and visitors in other parts of the region.

“My husband was one of the first tenants,” says Jeanne Goodall. “He runs World of Wonder, an upcycling initiative, and I have The Playshed. We love the creative openness of the complex. There’s always something going on and between the animals and the people it’s very organic and alive. It has a beautiful energy and doesn’t feel like you’re in the city.”

Alongside Jeanne’s children’s play area, there is an open public pool, food gardens, mixed income housing, backpackers, retailers, restaurants, and even a stable yard that all contribute to the holistic lifestyle offering.

Most tenants use renewable energy technology, host social and recreational activities, promote youth skills development and teach conservation. Additionally, there’s an overall championing of the neighbouring wetland biodiversity.

Working within the community, the six non-profit organisations that are based in Oude Molen provide skills development, education, sport and music programmes and services to approximately 300 youths per month. Two of the non-profits are focused on women’s empowerment.

Selected as a Design Capital project in 2014, based on its bottom-up development approach involving proactive citizen and community involvement, the Oude Molen’s long-term vision is for the village and subsidiary projects to be managed as a social enterprise in order to distribute profits back into communities in the region.

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