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RESEARCH, REFLECTIONS AND MODELLING

RESEARCH INTO COMPARATIVE HOUSING DENSITIES IN DIEPSLOOT LOCATION: Diepsloot Reception Area, Johannesburg PROJECT TEAM: 26’10 South Architects and Prof Lone Poulsen with the Goethe-Institut, South Africa, Thorsten Deckler, Anne Graupner, Tahira Toffa, Guy Trangos, Shameemah Davids, Claire Lubell, Nzinga Mboup EXHIBITOR: 26’10 South Architects with Lone Poulsen

In 2008, a research exercise was undertaken to explore how different housing types generate different densities and provide different economic opportunities. In this research inquiry, Reception Area, an informal settlement in Diepsloot on the north-west periphery of Johannesburg, was used as a datum against which to test various formal housing typologies. The intention was to devise alternative strategies which respond to - and learn from - the dynamics of existing informal areas. Based on detailed mappings of Reception Area produced by 26’10 South Architects, a master class involving various architects and housing specialists was held to explore spatial issues relating to housing density; occupation density; built form; how rental rooms and small businesses can be included in the design; and the delineation of communal and public spaces. In South Africa, density is generally defined as low at less than 40 units/ha, medium between 40 and 100 units/ha, and high at more than 100 units/ha. Reception Area’s existing density at 300 units/ha (constituted mainly by one-storey structures), the variety of spaces on offer, and the diversity of land uses was seen as a model for low rise, high-density solutions. The built fabric of Reception Area potentially offers both freehold tenure and opportunities for sub-letting and small scale enterprises.

OPPOSITE LEFT Exhibition at Goethe on Main © Sean Tanquey

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DIEPSLOOT TODAY

CURRENT HOUSING

80sq.m. stand

250sq.m. stand

Ground floor plan Typical yard

0

RECEPTION AREA Description Tenure type Stand size sq.m. Provided unit size sq.m. Initial net residential density stands/ha Initial gross residential density stands/ha Initial gross habitable rooms/ha Potential gross habitable rooms/ha

initial 76 potential RECEPTION AREA

5

Informal settlement Relocation 80 8 - 36 125 76 76 342

342

habitable rooms/ha

0

RDP Description Tenure type Stand size sq.m. Provided unit size sq.m. Initial net residential density stands/ha Initial gross residential density stands/ha Initial gross habitable rooms/ha Potential gross habitable rooms/ha

initial 76 potential RECEPTION AREA initial potential RDP

5

One house-per-plot typology Individual ownership 250 36 40 24 72 288

342

72

-54 POTENTIAL EXTRA CAPACITY

288 habitable rooms/ha

PROPOSED HOUSING

PAST PROPOSED HOUSING

47 sq.m. stand

200 sq.m. stand

Ground floor plan

Second floor plan

First floor plan

Second floor plan with additions

Ground floor plan

0

CHITUNGWIZA (ZIMBABWE) Description Tenure type Stand size sq.m. Provided unit size sq.m. Initial net residential density stands/ha Initial gross residential density stands/ha Initial gross habitable rooms/ha Potential gross habitable rooms/ha 76 initial potential RECEPTION AREA

5

One house per plot typology Individual ownership 200 28 50 32 64 288

342

initial potential CHITUNGWIZA -56 POTENTIAL EXTRA CAPACITY

328 288 habitable rooms/ha

0

VERTICAL YARD Description Tenure type Stand size sq.m. Provided unit size sq.m. Initial net residential density stands/ha Initial gross residential density stands/ha Initial gross habitable rooms/ha Potential gross habitable rooms/ha initial potential initial potential

76 RECEPTION AREA

5

Variable unit with option for growth Individual ownership and rental units 47 -55 72 196 82 328 492

342 328

VERTICAL YARD

492 POTENTIAL EXTRA CAPACITY

150

habitable rooms/ha


The research project posed the question as to what housing densities could be achieved if the existing housing was replaced by more formal buildings. Could higher densities be achieved, or would people have to be displaced if the area was formalised? A one hectare piece of land situated along a busy street of Reception Area was used as the basis to compare different formal housing approaches, measured in terms of the displacement or additional accommodation each settlement type achieves.

Rendering of 14x7 Vertical Yard typology inserted into Reception Area’s activity street.

One of the surprising findings of the research related to the performance, in terms of density, of the conventional, freestanding RDP house. If self-constructed rental rooms or backyard shacks are added to the RDP house, it can achieve densities similar to those of the much touted row-house, and deliver densities approximating those of Reception Area. However, the siting of the RDP house in the middle of its plot results in poor interstitial spaces when rental rooms are added over time. Simultaneously, the existing settlement

50

infrastructure and social amenities are often overburdened by the increased occupation. A comparison with Chitungwiza on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe, demonstrated an effective alternative. In Chitungwiza, two freestanding houses are joined along a 25

shared boundary, leaving enough space for rental rooms to define a quality semi-private communal space. The row-house type, promoted as the alternative to the free-standing RDP, starts out with higher initial densities, but has limited growth potential over time due to the inconvenience of tenants passing through the main house to access their 0

accommodation. Units with passages on one side, or access lanes at the back of stands, may alleviate this to a degree. The housing types proposed during the research exercise achieve higher-than-usual 14x7

densities from the outset. These provide valuable models for the government if settlements like Reception Area were to be upgraded in ways that minimise displacement of existing residents.

Vertical Yard

The housing types were designed so that eligible beneficiaries of a formalisation process could become small-scale landlords, renting habitable rooms to non-eligible residents. The flexible designs of the proposed housing types explicitly allow for future growth, with site layouts configured to accommodate the incremental development of income-producing rental rooms, on-site retail spaces or small-scale home businesses. The unit types are located close to the street boundary to create a sense of urbanity, promote natural surveillance, facilitate ease of trading, and limit the amount of unusable space between units. Micro-loans, in addition to a basic starter unit (funded by means of the subsidy), can help owners construct quality rental rooms as per various pre-defined options. Part of the resultant rental income would go towards repaying the loan. Both the

Business

Residential

“Vertical Yard” type and the “14x7m Row House” type offer two approaches to achieving

The 14x7 Vertical Yard typology inserted into Reception Area’s dense fabric.

high density and growth over time. Both unit types move away from the ‘shrunken mansion’ syndrome currently on offer, providing a new type of subsidised housing in which the unit becomes an asset for income generation. While the proposed starter units are bigger than the standard RDP house, they can be readily achieved through savings on land cost (due to higher density), infrastructure and services. The increased densities also create the necessary thresholds for the efficient provision of public transport and social amenities. 3


RESEARCH, REFLECTIONS AND MODELLING

ALTERNATIVE SERVICE PROVISION FOR INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS LOCATION: Diepsloot Reception Area, Johannesburg PROJECT TEAM: 26’10 South Architects, Thorsten Deckler, Anne Graupner, Tahira Toffa, Guy Trangos, Shameemah Davids, Claire Lubell

EXHIBITOR: 26’10 South Architects

A competition entry by 26’10 Architects proposes a new approach to service provision in informal settlements. The architects argue that during the long and arduous processes involved in formal upgrades - defining ownership, providing security of tenure and eventually delivering houses - something can be done to improve inhabitants’ lives in the interim. Improved services can be introduced and community members can derive benefits from managing these amenities. In fact, the failure of services that plagues informal settlements presents obvious opportunities for employment and development.

TESTING THE IDEAS These ideas were tested in Diepsloot’s Reception Area, a dense informal settlement on the north-western edge of Johannesburg accommodating approximate 25 000 inhabitants. The failing sanitation system in the area consisted of communal water points and toilets, which often overflow. This is evident from the 7.2 km of surface sewage flowing through the settlement. Although the government was in the process of reinstating this system, no attempts were being made to address the factors which had contributed to its failure in the first place. This scenario forms the basis for a ‘First Fix’ strategy developed for the competition.

5


SMALL, MEDIUM AND LARGE INTERVENTIONS This project proposes a matrix of temporary service points informed by an analysis of existing structures and spaces within Reception Area. As places of concentration, the service points, depending on their scale and location, could provide areas for trade, rentable retail space and secondary amenities. The idea was that users would be charged a nominal fee for the use of clean and safe facilities. Money collected in this way would provide income for maintenance and expansion. Members of the community are already accustomed to paying for the use of communal toilets which are maintained by the community itself. 7


Due to Reception Area’s complex and dense urban fabric, three scales of intervention were proposed: an existing toilet upgrade, a medium-sized toilet and shower facility, and a large service centre with toilets, comfortable bathrooms, laundry and community services. The large units are arranged around semi-private courtyards. Besides regular bathrooms, they contain retail spaces which could be used by a hairdresser, internet cafe, laundry, tuckshop, crèche, gym, etc. The two roof terraces could be used for drying clothes or as outdoor exercising spaces. Through incorporating lessons learnt from the dynamic urban and architectural character of the Reception Area, the facilities are cross-programmed to offer multiple services and income streams. All typologies would provide business opportunities for local caretakers and operators.


SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY Lack of ownership, vandalism and utilitarian expediency are endemic to communal “free” services. The failure of services in Reception Area has proven that a simplistic technocratic approach does not satisfy the complex needs of a community. The following strategies aim at offering more choice, engendering a sense of ownership and alleviating pressure on the environment and existing system.

SOCIAL: Cross programming allows for multiple, instead of mono functional, arrangements offering a range of opportunities for socialising and trade.

ENVIRONMENTAL: Biogas Digesting Biogas is harvested in the medium and large units to power lights and heating.

OWNERSHIP Semi-privatisation offers local people employment and a share in the facilities. Profits will derive from how well the facilities are maintained and run.

Wetland system The biogas system in the large and medium bathhouses produces a liquid by product rich in nitrates which when filtered through a wetland system, is known to revive river ecologies and improve water quality. Most Large units are thus located on the river edge and can promote the revitalising of this space as a natural amenity. Solar geysers A simple, robust, inexpensive and theft evasive vacu-cylinder system heats water through passive solar gain. Flexible Construction The use of containers allows for quick and efficient construction as well as their re-use elsewhere once Reception Area is developed.

ENVIRONMENTALLY SENSITIVE The medium and large units employ a biogas digester, making them environmentally sustainable. This will assist with the revival of river ecologies and improvement of water quality. Most of the large units are thus located near the river edge to revitalise this space as natural amenity. Methane, another by-product, can be used as fuel for public lighting and heating. Hot water can be sold for nominally less than what it costs to heat it with traditional fuels. This proposal posits the notion that just as a multitude of services are offered in the informal city, so public infrastructure can become a service offered to residents. This requires a lateral shift in thinking beyond the confines of specialised civil engineering and back in time, when the early industrialising city’s bathhouses and boarding houses catered to the needs of its migrant and temporary workforces. Providing dignified amenities in informal settlements – until now suspended in an illegal, temporary limbo - may be the first step in the slow process of formalising these areas as legitimate parts of the city. 9


RESEARCH, REFLECTIONS AND MODELLING

STUDENT PROJECT TO UPGRADE RUIMSIG INFORMAL SETTLEMENT LOCATION: Ruimsig, Johannesburg PROJECT TEAM: 26’10 South Architects and Department of Architecture, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg (UJ) with the GoetheInstitut, South Africa, Thorsten Deckler, Prof Lone Poulsen (architect and urban planner), Alexander Opper (director of architecture master’s programme, UJ), Melinda Silverman (UJ)

EXHIBITOR: 26’10 South Architects

South African housing policy has shifted significantly in recent years, devoting increasing attention to informal settlements, and advocating that – where possible – these should be upgraded. The intention is two-fold: to minimise disruption of residents’ lives and to harness the entrepreneurial capacity of people to house themselves. Yet there is very little practical experience in the country to undertake such projects and no courses that explicitly train prospective architects to tackle in-situ upgrading. This educational gap provided the impetus for a project entitled “Informal Studio: Ruimsig”, carried out by a partnership of 26’10 South Architects, the Goethe-Institut, South Africa and the University of Johannesburg. Sixteen masters students, together with residents of Ruimsig, an informal settlement on the western periphery of Johannesburg, produced detailed drawings of the settlement and made proposals as to how the settlement could be reconfigured to make it function more effectively.

LEFT In-situ studio space © Alexander Opper

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1. Ruimsig proper 2. Proposed expansion (only roads shown) 3. Proposed public open space 4. Proposed public facility 5. Proposed commercial 6. Proposed ‘seam’ - medium/high density housing 7. ‘Wetlands meander’ 8. Roodepoort Athletic Stadium 9. Hendrik Potgieter Drive

FORMAL STUDIO: R U I M S I G INFORMAL STUDIO: R U I M S I G

INVESTIGATION Existing number of plots Existing number of households Number of households retained Number of households to be relocated

CHURCH

SHEBEEN 30 69 52 17

Biggest plot

247 m2

Smallest plot Average plotsize Net gain in number of plots Net loss in number of properties

113 m 151 m2 17 0

2

Rental strategy (i.e what will happen to the renters; how many will continue to live in backyards, how many will be rehoused in clusters ) 3 rental clusters (6-8 households per cluster); backyard rentals to remain on owner's plots.

INVESTIGATION Existing number of plots Existing number of households Number of households retained Number of households to be relocated

SPAZA

SPAZA 32 111 58 53

Biggest plot

190 m2

Smallest plot Average plot size Net gain in number of plots Net loss in number of properties

155 m 31 0

2

120 m

2

Rental strategy (i.e what will happen to the renters; how many will continue to live in backyards, how many will be rehoused in clusters) 58 existing rentals; rental quarter added to accommodate 16 rentals from main shebeen; 1.5 rentals per 63 households=95; total rentals =111 INVESTIGATION Existing number of plots Existing number of households Number of households retained Number of households to be relocated

CHURCH

SHEBEEN 30 69 52 17

Biggest plot

247 m2

Smallest plot Average plotsize Net gain in number of plots Net loss in number of properties

113 m 2 151 m 17 0

2

Rental strategy (i.e what will happen to the renters; how many will continue to live in backyards, how many will be rehoused in clusters )

BEEN

3 rental clusters (6-8 households per cluster); backyard rentals to remain on owner's plots.

INVESTIGATION Existing number of plots Existing number of households Number of households retained Number of households to be relocated

SPAZA

CHURCH

SPAZA 32 111 58 53 190 m2

Smallest plot Average plot size Net gain in number of plots Net loss in number of properties

120 m2 155 m2 31 0

Rental strategy (i.e what will happen to the renters; how many will continue to live in backyards, how many will be rehoused in clusters) 58 existing rentals; rental quarter added to accommodate 16 rentals from main shebeen; 1.5 rentals per 63 households=95; total rentals =111

SHEBEEN

CHURCH 52 60 54 6

Biggest plot

250 m2

Smallest plot Average plot size Net gain in number of plots Net loss in number of properties

120 m 180 m2 24 0

2

Rental strategy (i.e what will happen to the renters; how many will continue to live in backyards, how many will be rehoused in clusters)

INVESTIGATION Existing number of plots Existing number of households People in total Number of households retained / mostly rent Number of households to be relocated

WETLAND 48 129 250 60 69 2

Biggest plot / owned by lessor Smallest plot

141 m 18 m2

Average plot size Net gain in number of plots Net loss in number of properties

127 m 12 0

2

TOTAL 32 111 58 53

Biggest plot

2 190 m

Smallest plot

120 m 2 155 m

Average plotsize Net gain in number of plots Net loss in number of properties

Existing dwelling

Existing dwelling repositioned

Existing dwelling re-moved

N

Existing dwelling Existing dwelling repositioned Existing dwelling removed Proposed public facility

Proposed public facility

Existing dwelling

5 0

10

50m

25

Existing dwelling repositioned

Existing dwelling re-moved

N

Proposed public facility

5 0

10

25

50m

2

31 0

2

Space for backyard renting is provided within the plots. Services are provided via a party wall system installed in phases.

INVESTIGATION Existing number of plots Existing number of households People in total Number of households retained / mostly rent Number of households to be relocated

WETLAND 48 129 250 60 69 2

Biggest plot / owned by lessor Smallest plot

141 m 18 m2

Average plot size Net gain in number of plots Net loss in number of properties

127 m 12 0

2

Rental strategy (i.e what will happen to the renters : how many will continue to live in backyards; how many will be rehoused in clusters)

RUIMSIG Existing number of plots Existing number of households Number of households retained Number of households to be relocated

TOTAL 32 111 58 53

Biggest plot

2 190 m

Smallest plot

120 m 2 155 m

Net gain in number of plots Net loss in number of properties

46 of the 69 renters will be rehoused in a rentable cluster block, while the remaining 23 will live in a backyard rental.

RUIMSIG Existing number of plots Existing number of households Number of households retained Number of households to be relocated

120 m 180 m2 24 0

Average plotsize

Rental strategy (i.e what will happen to the renters : how many will continue to live in backyards; how many will be rehoused in clusters)

WETLANDS

250 m2

Smallest plot Average plot size Net gain in number of plots Net loss in number of properties

46 of the 69 renters will be rehoused in a rentable cluster block, while the remaining 23 will live in a backyard rental.

Space for backyard renting is provided within the plots. Services are provided via a party wall system installed in phases.

CHURCHWETLANDS

CHURCH 52 60 54 6

Biggest plot

Rental strategy (i.e what will happen to the renters; how many will continue to live in backyards, how many will be rehoused in clusters)

Biggest plot

INVESTIGATION Existing number of plots Existing number of households Number of households retained Number of households to be relocated

INVESTIGATION Existing number of plots Existing number of households Number of households retained Number of households to be relocated

2

31 0


INTENSE COLLABORATION The course was run partially from a studio within the settlement where students and teachers worked with local residents in a process guided by NGOs and grass-roots organisations. This interaction - on site - formed a vital component of the project linking theory and practice, and connecting ‘clients’ (residents), and service providers (students and teachers). A number of local residents, who fulfilled the role of ‘community architects’, were assigned to groups of students to help with the mapping and to facilitate communication.

The students collaboratively developed a tentative ‘re-blocking’ map showing how minimal shifts and adjustments could facilitate

⋅⋅ ⋅⋅ ⋅⋅ ⋅⋅

a more equitable distribution of space, the reconfiguration of overcrowded areas, the creation of adequate roads, wide enough for emergency vehicles, and future provision of sanitation, water and electricity.

This revised map was also intended to inform a subsequent process of providing residents with more secure forms of tenure and with securing adequate sites for future social amenities. The collaborative nature of the project, and in particular working with the Informal Settlement Network, an NGO devoted to empowering shack-dwellers, allowed students to engage in a peopledriven process. The studio helped pioneer new ways of practice for architects, especially a shift away from the obsession with the single formal house, which is constructed for rather than by people.

WEEKLY TRIP TO HONEYDEW TO GET SUPPLIED FOR ALFRED’S FOOD STAND.

WEEKLY VISIT TO FRIENDS IN HONEYDEW.

Alfred’s House, ‘Lifeworlds’ / Procurement Mapping © Miguel Pinto, Dana Gordon, Matt Miller, Jarryd Murray

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Alfred Mthunzi, Cecilia & Jabulani © Dana Gordon

Resident’s drawing of his own yard by Alfred Mthunzi

LEARNING FROM INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS It became increasingly clear to students that the informal city can provide residents what the formal system cannot: affordable shelter and a foothold close to urban opportunities. The informal city, constructed by inhabitants themselves, often displays a spatial richness ordinarily absent in the housing landscapes constructed by teams of professionals. However, the lack of services, insecurity of tenure, repeated threats of ‘eradication’, and the promise of eventual housing delivery have locked the informal city into an illegal limbo. Encouragingly the state’s previous emphasis on eradication has been redirected to upgrading. The government is now intent on upgrading 400 000 units in well-located informal settlements within the next

House plan and interior elevations by Dana Gordon

two years. To this effect, the National Upgrade Support Programme (NUSP) has been established to assist the state and communities in realising this target. For South Africa this demands a major shift in thinking about housing and how it has been delivered in the past. It acknowledges the efforts people have made in building their own homes and communities. No matter how deficient, tenuous or exploitative the informal city may be, it directly mirrors the ever-increasing backlog of formal housing. Considering that about 60% of all urban inhabitants in Africa live in informal conditions, it is time for professionals to actively engage with this pervasive phenomenon. The “Informal Studio: Ruimsig” was thus intended to educate professionals to see housing not in terms of finished, professionally-executed products but as a people-driven process towards improved living environments.

Axonometric of house by Dana Gordon


RUIMSIG COMMUNITY The community of the Ruimsig informal settlement, including Dan Moletsane, Dingaan Matia, the community leadership and the eight community architects*: Irene Mohale, Rosalina Mphuti, Julia Mashaba, Mildred Thapeni, Albert Masibigiri, Jemina Mokoena, Watson Sibara, and Alfred Mthunzi.

UJ STUDENTS Dewald Badenhorst, Dean Boniface, Dirk Coetser, Dana Gordon, Zakeeya Kalla, Daniel Lyonga, Julian Manshon, Matthew Millar, Karabo Mokaba, Jarryd Murray, Trisha Parbhoo, Sean Pillan, Taswald Pillay, John Saaiman, and Salome Snyman. Special thanks go to Miguel Pinto.

OTHER Steve Topham (NUSP); Andy Bolnick (Ikhayalami); Connie Molefe (of the Roodepoort Athletics Stadium management); the staff of 26’10 south Architects (particularly Shameemah Davids, Soleil Jones & Anne Graupner); Max Rambau & André Mengi (CORC); Tolo Phule and Lungelo Mntambo (Delite Visual Archives Studios); Pheagane “Jakes” Maponya, Pumla Bafo & Thabo Molaba (City of Johannesburg); Lisa Ngagledla, Nomahlubi Ncoyini & Pricilla Mario (for sharing the expertise of the Sheffield Road community in Cape Town); & Mzwanele Zulu (ISN, Cape Town). Exhibition opening at Goethe on Main © Thorsten Deckler

* The term community architects describes community members who have participated in the planning / design process with students. They are not trained or qualified architects and do not replace professionals.

Physical Scale Model Studio session © Tolo Phule

Mapping process © Tolo Phule

Urban Frameworks presentation © Alexander Opper

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CATALYTIC PROJECTS

RE-INHABITING THE RUIN OF THE SANS SOUCI CINEMA LOCATION: Kliptown, Soweto PROJECT TEAM: Anne Graupner, Thorsten Deckler, Gavin Armstrong, Kiran Paras, Nicola Wessels, Rogan Rich, Robert Rich, Sue Groenewald, Lindsay Bremner EXHIBITOR: 26’10 South Architects, Lindsay Bremner

During a five year period, from 2003 to 2008, architectural theorist Lindsay Bremner, and architectural practitioners 26’10 South Architects collaborated on a project to resuscitate the dilapidated Sans Souci Cinema in Kliptown, Soweto. However, in the absence of a budget and local capacity to re-build the famous landmark, the project team decided to recreate the activities that had taken place within the cinema, rather than reconstruct the building.

CONTENT RATHER THAN CONTAINER The focus, according to the team, became “content rather than container”. The team reconceptualised the dramatic ruin of the old cinema as an armature against which a series of cultural events would be staged in one of Johannesburg’s poorest communities. The project set out to demonstrate that cultural production need not be limited to formal institutions and that relevant, rich and hybrid cultural practices can emerge from the perceived margins and interstices of the city. Kliptown, a historic, but dilapidated township on the edge of Soweto, is the site of this project to rebuild the Sans Souci, a community cinema and theatre that burnt down in 1994. The Sans Souci, which means ‘without a care’ in French, was established in 1948 in a building that had previously been a dance hall and a stable. It hosted many of South Africa’s eminent performers, including Miriam Makeba, Kippie Moketsi and Abdullah Ibrahim and was one of the few cinemas where black Africans could view films during the apartheid period. After falling into disrepair in the early 1990s, it was disassembled by squatters, scavenging materials for housing.

LEFT Sunset dance © Anne Graupner

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HISTORIC LANDMARK The redevelopment of the cinema as a public, cultural and performance venue was one of the projects in a wider renewal of Kliptown as an ‘Eco Museum’ - a radical re-thinking of the traditional western museum concept intended to maximise interaction between visitors and the local community. In conceptualising the recreation of the Sans Souci, the project team realised that the existing ruin needed to be given new meaning over time through events and incremental architectural interventions involving local people and visitors. This would be followed by a phased building process as funding became available and the community’s capacity to manage the project developed. The project was driven by the Kliptown Our Town Trust, a community development organisation of Kliptown residents, and the Vuyani Dance Theatre Company. In the first phase of the project, film screenings, film and dance festivals, audience development, dance training and film production allowed residents and visitors to actively participate in excavating and commemorating the history of Kliptown and the Sans Souci and constructing its future.

DIRECT SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT The architectural team engaged in this process both as facilitators and as designers in the belief that direct social engagement by professionals can help to create urbanity in conditions of scarce resources. Top-down planning has often resulted in obsolete cultural institutions and unused buildings, while viable, small-scale cultural organisations struggle to survive. The team argued that it is more important to consolidate creative social practices in public space before constructing buildings. The notion of public space in Johannesburg, as in many other cities, is becoming increasingly franchised and controlled, on the one hand, and neglected on the other. This abandonment of public space offered the team the opportunity to experiment. By harnessing the immediacy of grassroots cultural networks in the design and implementation of an architectural project, the architects found new ways to make positive and interactive public spaces. This created the conceptual foundation for the growth of the Sans Souci into a new institution. This approach was intended to pioneer a lighter, more flexible and responsive form of urbanism which accommodates local desires, narratives and initiatives. Rather than abandoning the client because of the limited budget, the team was able to bring together local networks to create an important public space for cultural programmes.

Film screening © Louis Vorster


TOP LEFT TO RIGHT Film festival setup. Community workshop. Performance © Anne Graupner BOTTOM Timeline © Lindsay Bremner

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26'10 south Architects, The South African Informal City, 1st Edition, 2012  

26'10 south Architects, The South African Informal City, 1st Edition, 2012

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