Alternative Building Technology


Launched in 1988, Hydraform International set out with the aim of producing a cost-effective Alternative Building Technology (ABT) system for South Africa and the rest of the developing world.

The Hydraform’s building system is different to the normal bricks that we know, in that it replaces regularly used bricks and cement (mortar) with Hydraform blocks that interlock and are dry- stacked. A unique feature of the building system is that it makes use of the oldest known building material to man – earth, to produce an interlocking soil and cement block. The Hydraform blocks lock on four sides; front and back and top and bottom, thus ensuring that each block is locked into place.

Hydraform’s innovative and sustainable building system, together with their own designed and manufactured mobile interlocking block-making of upmarket and low-cost housing, including estates, schools, universities, clinics and commercial structures in all parts of the world.

Not only is Hydraform’s building system proven and tested, it also boasts various other benefits such as: cost savings in construction, empowerment of unskilled people (including women), simplicity in building system, reduced transport costs, local soil used from project sites and bricks made where and when needed.

One of the most important core components of the Hydraform building system is training. This includes instruction in both block production and building methods at the Hydraform Academy in Johannesburg or the option of onsite training at the client’s premises, be that anywhere across the globe. Customer support and technical assistance is also of the utmost importance to Hydraform and is available to clients wherever and whenever needed.

Production and construction benefits

The blocks produced consist of 92% soil and 8% cement, thus resulting in minimal construction material costs, and unskilled labour can be employed. The blocks also possess a high-quality face brick finish. Due to the dry stacked interlocking technology, no mortar is required and it also allows for a much faster and easier construction process. With the Hydraform mobile block-making machines, on-site production using local soil is enabled, thus eliminating extra transport costs. There is also scope for expanding blockyards with the mobile block-making machines. Due to the nature of the building material being environmentally-friendly, this is not only in low maintenance costs but also quality and thermos-efficient houses too.

Blockyard opportunities

A blockyard can be established on any suitable open land space for the production of blocks and bricks. The setup and establishment of a Hydraform blockyard would directly provide employment for approximately 20-40 local community members per blockyard. The following examples illustrate the benefits of having a blockyard operation and the associated block output capacity. Approximately 2200 Hydraform blocks per day are produced using the Hydraform M7MI-Supermachine, and which over a period of eleven months (calculating using a 5-day week and 4-week month) amounts to 484 000 blocks per year. With the Hydraform V3SE machine, roughly 5000 interlocking pavers per day are manufactured; amounting to 1100 000 pavers per year over an eleven month period (calculated using a 5-day week and 4-week month).

In terms of building projects, this could result in the following types of structures being constructed:

For walling: 13000m2 of Hydraform walling
Or housing/ teachers quarters: around 90 houses at 50m2 each
Or schools: 20 units with three classes each, amounting to a total of 60 classrooms
Or upmarket houses: 30 units of 100m2 each

Additionally, paving projects can be undertaken for roads and walkways in and around towns and villages. In essence, villages will be upgraded, rebuilt, and new industries will be established, resulting in the creation of more jobs and alleviating poverty. Training is also provided by Hydraform to teach the local community the art of quality blockmaking as well as construction methods, thus ensuring the transfer of skills and increasing skills development.

Empowerment and transformation of lives

Armed with the new blockmaking and construction skills and more job opportunities being made available in the blockyard to the local community, it also empowers people within the community to contribute to housing delivery, the stimulation of the local economy and the start of the new industry. This also positively impacts and benefits other small businesses and tradesmen, who supply goods and services to this new industry such as roofing, building, cement supplies, food etc. As the people in the community experience transformation in their lives through the skills empowerment and job creation opportunities, they also have a sense of achievement in seeing and enjoying the beautification of the environment they live in. Now, in collaboration with community leaders new homes, schools, clinics, and places of worship can be built through ongoing initiatives.

A step in the right direction

With today’s new regulations, regarding improving insulation as a way to reduce electricity costs and a drive toward greener and more environmentally-friendly choices, people in the building industry are pursuing new and alternative building systems. Alternative building methods, such as Hydraform’s interlocking block building system is not only a step in the right direction, it is also a kinder and better choice for our planet, including being more cost-effective than the standard brick and mortar construction. As the alternative building trend constinues and gains momentum, so does Hydraform’s growing presence in 50 countries and on six continents, including being used and trusted by NGO’s, governments, private investors, developers, international agencies, mining houses and entrepreneurs worldwide.

In closing and in the words of Anne Frank, “How wonderful is it that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Hydraform International
Moabi Rakosa
Tel: (011) 913-1449