Stephen is a designer and environmental activist working primarily in the sustainable construction sector. His work focuses on researching and developing alternative, sustainable design and construction methodologies relevant to emerging countries by combining material design, co-design and geometry-based design. The primary focus of his work centres on the upgrading of “informal settlements” in southern Africa.
In 2014, Stephen co-founded the Light House Project with Cape Town designer and artist Andrew Lord. He currently leads the Research and Development of the Light House Program, an Expanded Public Works Program funded by the South African national government. The Light House Program explores and develops regenerative building technologies and construction methods using alternative bio-based aggregates and binders. An emphasis is placed on utilizing the biomass of woody invading alien plant species as substitutes to traditional concrete aggregates.
In addition to furthering the associated carbon storage opportunities, his work aims to maximize localized job creation opportunities through the use of woody invasive plant species and the development of low-tech, labour-intensive construction practices for local communities. Projects undertaken to date include the design and construction of safer, more dignified and sustainable, off-grid, affordable housing models supporting the upgrade of informal settlements, the replacement of Apartheid-era “pit-toilets” in rural South African schools; staff accommodation units, tourist lodges and rangers’ units in wilderness protected areas; environmental education centres and classrooms.
Stephen has received several local and international design awards and has exhibited his work internationally, including the building of the entrance pavilion to the Shanghai Biennale in China (2012), the entrance pavilion to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa (2011) and the Cape Town Climate Smart Campaign Pavilion at the FIFA World Cup (2010)
Prior to joining the BRG, Stephen was based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) where he collaborated with the Chair of Sustainable Construction in D-BAUG.