Category Archives: PROJECTS


bridgingMZAMBA – The Movie

A documentary by Kay Gertler, 32min, 2016

The film is dedicated to the mastered challenges of the multi-award winning self-construction project in South Africa.
Footage of filmmaker Kay Gertler and Hadrien Clair as well as image material of various project participants cover the process from negotiations with community representatives and the first infrastructural measures on site up to the joyous opening and hand-over ceremony of the pedestrian bridge.

buildCollective architects and founding members Elias Rubin and Marlene Wagner share their perspective on the project bridgingMZAMBA, collaboration with partners
(Community Steering Committee, Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Dr. Lüchinger+Meyer, students, volunteers, consultants and supporters) and general approach to work.

Find out more about the work of Kay Gertler and KY – image films for humans on:

supported by:
Birgit Werner, Sigve Holmen and betterplace-crowdfunders.

for more information on project, partners and set up please visit:


bridgingMZAMBA – The Book

bridgingMzamba – eine Brücke an der Wild Coast
Fachhochschule Kärnten Studiengang Architektur,
achimappublishers, 72 S., 2016, ISBN 9783940874979

bridgingMZAMBA, volume 6 of the architecture series by CUAS, traces the fundamental ideas behind the development and realisation of a self-build suspension bridge over the Mzamba River. The bridge was built between 2014 and 2016 through the cooperation of local, dedicated people and NPO buildCollective, the architecture faculty at CUAS in Spittal and two of its thesis students, as well as structural engineers and many other contributing individuals. It is an example of a meaningful collective effort resulting from a north-south dialogue, in several phases and culminating in practical realisation through great dedication.
– Peter Nigst, Arch. DI Dr., Carinthia University of Applied Sciences

In our area we are used to not getting anything from government, but in contrast to other places we are not burning cars or riot. We rather reach out and try to find new ways, because we know government is not able to provide service for all. We can meet them half way with new partnerships.
– Nonhle Mbuthuma , Chairperson Community Steering Committee

editorial work: Florian Anzenberger, Thomas Harlander, Peter Nigst, Marlene Wagner
graphic design: Daniela Fößleitner

Bridging Mzamba


infrastructure and workshops

With members of Bank of Austria (Sponsor of the Ithuba Mzamba School), local management, construction team, teachers and staff we have been digging and pouring concrete for toilet foundations, brick laying, painted classrooms, made benches, shelves, a school-braai (bbq), origami frogs….and much more.






photos: Christian Reidlinger


schap MZAMBA ´16

Design-build project with students of the Carinthia University of Applied Science, Ithuba Wild Coast School, local team of parents, neighbours and craftsmen.

The consultation and working framework with various stakeholders and partners – NGO, client, university, local management and user is followed by the investigation of climatic, social and economic assets and set up of design-brief for students.


The project had been guided by the wish of clients for a classroom unit for Grade 5,6,7 learners as well as multifunctional teachers room. In the design process the team decided on a 2-step plan of construction and the focus on fast implementation with local material and skilled team. Several design proposals were investigated in smaller teams and later joint according to feasibility, spatial qualities and collaborative decision-making.


Positioning classrooms according to masterplan, terrain, sun and climatic conditions the unit enables various courtyards, seating, entry points, rainwater collection and a viewing platform. The mirrored, repetitive plan and the use of easily available wood profiles, concrete blocks and burnt clay bricks support the collaborative construction process.


The architecture students pass through all steps of design and planning to public relations and fundraising of building material, wages and side costs.
Additional input could be established by incorporating workshops, input-lectures on history, culture, social and economic conditions, local architecture, material and climate as well as development discourse and a code of conduct to broaden approach to architecture.

In term- break students spent their holidays on the actual implementation with members of the local community and craftsmen under the guidance of buildCollective NPO. Exchange is initiated by mixed teams of South African and European members in the construction team and mutual teaching and learning.






Main goal of this full-scale approach in architectural education is the sensitization for responsible handling of resources, diverse actors and trades in construction, and the production of knowledge for all participants.

In sustainable process with local communities, academia and other players an alternative path of applied research and social responsibility can lead to new partnerships reducing the lack of adequate housing or communal facilities.

Opening movie filmed and cut on site for hand-over ceremony by Hadrien Clair.


Fritz Alina Vanessa, Gerner Michaela, Haller Verena, Kral Lukas, Lüftenegger Viktoria, Moser Christian, Napetschnig Alexander Markus, Peieira-Arnstein Daniel, Saje Eva, Steger Daniel Carsten, Wawrzeczko Jakob Jan, Perterer Raphaela, Laura Ciriano, Tobias Küke, Müller Jonas, Teodora Gagovic, Sandra Moser, Gonzalo de Luca, Elias Molitschnig, Daniel Guerra, Anna Weisbrod, Günther Egger, Mavis Dlamini, Nontyatyambo Mditshane, Siyabonga Khuzwayo, Melan Juta, Lonwabo Dlamini, Siyabonga Mxunjini, Pakhamani Ngeleka, Ayesha Dlamini, Thobeko Dlamini, Xolani Mnyamana, Lichael Mbokodi , Bheki Mjomi, Phelisile Dlamini, Andile Mthumbu, Thanduxolo Mnyamani.

Special Thanks to
Jürgen Wirnsberger and Prof. Peter Nigst from CUAS
Jackie du Toit, Thembakazi Makedama  and their team from Ithuba Wild Coast School.
s2arch, Rotary Spittal, Fundermax, build it Port Edward and all financial supporters and suppliers!

For the student´s Facebook page on the project please visit:






photos: Marlene Wagner, Nina Savic
sketch: Jürgen Wirnsberger
videos: Hadrien Clair, Lukas Kral


From bridgingMZAMBA to MZAMBAbridge !

The community driven project ´bridgingMzamba` originated in the urgent need of and request by surrounding inhabitants for a safe crossing of the Mzamba River and included design and implementation of a 140 Meter long suspension bridge in a collaborative manner.

The Austria based NPO build Collective teamed up with two thesis students of the Carinthia University of Applied Science under the guidance of Prof.Dr. Peter Nigst for the design and planning phase.

A Steering Committee representing the local community and client guided the process and carried on negotiations with necessary entities. The driving force of tribal authority, ward committee and local stakeholders ensured a successful public participation and sustainable development.

Further support and authorisation could be established in liaison with engineers from South Africa and Switzerland (Dr. Lüchinger+Meyer), environmental experts, the Mbizana Municipality and Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development Environmental Affairs and Tourism to ensure technical accuracy and compliance.

Through this collective approach with users, students and experts the production of knowledge, cultural exchange, skills development and responsibility is achieved for all participants.

Design and technology had been guided by the reduction of environmental impact, available resources, the implementation with layperson and the hardly accessible construction site.

Overall project costs of 200 000 Euros have been carried solely by sponsors, donations and personal contribution. In several phases of negotiations, fundraising, design and construction since 2012, this extraordinary infrastructure could be realized with October 2015 as a self-build project of community members and volunteers.

The Mzamba Bridge is now connecting residents of a catchment area of 30km to necessary infrastructure such as educational facilities, health care, jobs and general food supply. Further it serves as a landmark and potential tourist attraction in the area to enable socio-economic development.



brMZ_sendout_english brMZ_sendout_english


COMMUNITY STEERING COMMITTEE: Nonhle Mbuthuma, Mashono Dlamini, Nkhulwani Mnyamane, Macube Mathembu, Mavis Dlamini, Thandazile Gampe, Sajini Dlamini, Stera Ndovela, Mdumiseni Dlamini, Madoyisi Dimane, Ntlahla Hlebo, Portia Ogle, Xolani Zindela, Simon Nzimakhwe, Nhindelwa Dlamini

VOLUNTEERS:Jesko von Jeney, Virginia Clasen, Sebastian Schweinberger, Christoph Jach, Laura Stock, Lukas Hofbauer, Anna Weisbrod, Hadrien Clair, Valentin Kandler, Tobias Lackner, Simon Spenrath, Günther Egger, Reinhard Stundner,

CONSTRUCTION TEAM: Melan Juta, Pakhamini Ngeleka, Siyabonga Khuzwayo, Siyabonga Mxunjini, Aiysha Dlamini, Khona Gampe, Ntombizethu Mnyamana, Ntobeko Dlamini, Zenzile Chiya, Andile Dlamini, Siphiwe Dlamini, Ntomsetu Dlamini, Monde Mdunyelwa, Mjo Bhele, Mbongeni Dlamini, Xolani Mnyamana, Lizwe Dlamini, Yandisa Dlamini, Sithole Dlamini, Mthokozizi Ndlovu, Moses Mbuthuma, Richman Ntuli, David Mbuthuma, Lonwabo Dlamini, Abraham Ngeleka

ADDITIONAL SUPPORTERS: Thomas Siegel, Gerhard Stocker, Hellfried Breymann, Dietmar Nast, Laurent Cattarinussi, Daniel Meyer, Mario Rienke, Walter Sauer, s2arch, Christoph Huber, AllPlant, Fabian Graber, Otmar Machine Tools, Otto Greiner, Eva Glawischnig, Gerald Blenner-Hassett, Hans Dreyer, Digger Elliott, Elias Ogle, Clyde Filer, Roger Grant, Jackie du Toit, Dick Trigg, Schenker Austria, Ryley Grunenwald, Stanford Spotsi, Luyanda Mali, Wild Coast Sun, Indigiflora Nursery, Mbizana Development Trust, Industrial Supply Centre, buildit Port Edward, Margate Engineering, Riaan Coetzer, HNK, Southern Steel, N-kap, Reinhard Lebersorger, Erna Müller, Max Abele, Österreichischer Wirtschaftsbund, Bernhard Pertiller, Michael Plackner, Elfriede Fellner, Elisabeth Donawell, BREG Bau und Revitalisierung, Christoph Chorherr, Herbert Salaun, Marius Müller, Manfred Ebner, Monika Manges, Hubert Bayer, Karin Fischer, Sabine Dvorak, Bernd Mümmler, Michael Spindelegger, Peter Haubner, Kay Gertler, Peter Kaiser, Rolf Holub, Siegfried Spanz, Eva Nowotny, Walter Schneider, Walter Thaler, Kurt Pock, Werner Faymann, Wilfried Haslauer, Christoph Leitl, Hans Peter Haselsteiner, Murauer Bier, Steel for You, offset5020, Kfast, Geith&Niggl, Salzburger Nachrichten, EZA, Mike Filer, WKO, Holzbau Gasser, Austria Alpin, Ybbser Wirtschaft, Johann Zehetgruber, Fibre C, Geyrecker, Lumber City,  Franz Moser, ICS, BIG, Karl Schedler Transport-Logistik, TLB Plant Hire, Alexander Wrabetz, Erwin Himmelbauer, Erwin Pröll, Franz Rohr, Gerhard Pfeifer, Ingrid Dekan, Ithuba Community School.

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p23_brMZ_Thomas Harlander

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photos: Anna Weisbrod, Reinhard Stundner


hand-over ceremony

On 9th of October 2015, after nearly three years, we could hand-over the MZAMBAbridge with stakeholders, government officials, tribal authority, participants, partners, supporters and broader community!

Together with the Steering Committee and 500 guests we celebrated the completion with exhibition, food, traditional beer, dance and speeches!


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photos: Anna Weisbrod, Jesko von Jeney, Marlene Wagner