African Problems Deserve African Solutions


African Problems Deserve African Solutions

The launch of the Ubuntu Design Group
an innovative design team committed to building dignified communities

The Ubuntu Design Group is a team of young social entrepreneurs determined to change the face of local architecture in South Africa & across the continent. Inspired by the spirit of Ubuntu, the idea that I am because you are, our mission is to build dignified homes that create communities and productive spaces in African cities. We work on innovative designs that are a combination of high-quality African architecture and international expertise.

The founder, Wandile Mthiyane, grew up in KwaMashu Township and earned a Master’s degree in Architecture from Andrews University in Michigan. His experience growing up in the townships of South Africa and then being educated internationally has impacted his outlook on how to solve some of the country’s design and housing problems. It is clear that foreign intervention will not work, which is why at Ubuntu, we believe African problems need African solutions. We hire and work with young local architects and partner them with experienced international architects so as to come up with innovative new ideas and ways of designing communities. We believe that no one knows the context and what’s needed then the people that actually live in the area and that’s why we aim to empower young local architects with the tools necessary to develop their communities. This is what we believe is the best way to produce socially impactful architecture, one brick at a time.

In terms of the work, the Ubuntu Design Group has been in communities in South Africa, listening to fellow citizens in order to build great communities. Our first action was building a
handicapped-accessible home in Umbumbulu, South Africa. As young people who grew up and are familiar with the context, we were motivated to make a difference in communities similar to our own. Growing up in the shadow of Apartheid, we were determined to change the structure of architecture, from one that oppressed people, to one that empowered communities and families. We successfully built the handicapped-accessible home for the Mtshali family, which also included efficient energy systems, environmentally-friendly ventilation systems, and a commercial space, which empowers the family and the community with a new place to do business.

The award-winning project inspired the team to also create a unique model that works with private and public companies in order to enable Ubuntu amongst South Africans as well. This is
also part of our mission to use dignified urban & architectural design to empower low-income communities to overcome economic, health, educational and social barriers by making locals the lead architects in designing the future of their community. We are still looking to do more. We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss the work that we are doing as young social entrepreneurs with your audience. Hopefully, we would like to inspire other young people to participate in changing their communities and really make a difference. We would also like to get the broader architecture community involved and foster the culture of Ubuntu through design and architecture. Ultimately, we understand that African problems need unique, new and innovative African solutions. If you have any questions or would like to collaborate with us, please reach out to us at or or visit the Ubuntu Design Group website for more information.

© Ubuntu Design Group.
Listen to build. Build to empower. Empower to enable Ubuntu.