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Bellville CBD:

cultural interventions

Bellville CBD:

cultural interventions

Our Future Cities | Future Cape Town Sea Point Cape Town, South Africa 8005

April 2018


Our Future Cities | Future Cape Town Sea Point Cape Town, South Africa 8005

Our Future Cities NPO is an independent non profit and consultancy promoting democracy and actions towards the creation of more equitable, progressive and bold cities. It comprises Future Cape Town and Future Lagos, which works in its respective cities. Through social media, publishing, events, research, and creative collaborations with the public, private and civil society sector, the organisation expands citizen access to urbanism, and in particular public information related to city planning, urban design, and architecture. The organisation was founded by Rashiq Fataar in 2010.

Rashiq Fataar (Project Lead)

Sharyn Sassen (Lead Researcher)

Assistant Researchers: Anna Dunkl, Deborah Berlet and Cyril Kull.






Focus Area Study Objectives ________________________________________


Research Findings Perceptions Participation Preference Discussion


Recommendations The All-People’s Passage






Interventions & Precedents A- Lower Blanckenberg Street B- Lower Kruskal Avenue C- Upper Kruskal Avenue







A Follow up study As an extension of the work presented in the Culture and Public Life report (2016), Future Cape Town (FCT) focussed research efforts to identify urban design concepts that will enhance cultural participation in the Bellville CBD in the short term. Objectives:

Our team conducted over fifty surveys with individuals of various ages and ethnicities. The study focussed on key spaces for urban cultural interventions, as identified in the previous report (FCT, 2016). The survey collected data on people’s perceptions of public space, their current activity participation in these spaces and preferences for future cultural participation.

• To raise awareness and interest around •

placemaking that meaningfully integrates and considers cultural groups and communities. To lobby for changes, and effective, achievable interventions/

Focus area for cultural interventions.



Perceptions, Participation and Preference

In this business oriented area, interviewees were primarily concerned about how changes to public space might positively impact businesses opportunities. Yet, in the lively square-like spaces and happenstance plazas, interviewees reported positively on social and intercultural encounters, where spaces that allow sitting, chatting and people-watching are valued. Most people were optimistic about the possibility of future cultural activity and intervention. Yet,  those with a limited sense of pride or ownership in the space could hardly visualise interventions to enhance their participation in the area. The findings from study can be presented according to people’s perceptions of, participation in and, preference for the public spaces around the Bellville CBD.

Street perspective: Perceptions of people on the street


Perceptions People’s perceptions about the space followed two thematic strands. These themes are described according to their constituent topics and using direct quotes from interviews with men and women on the street.

Its not a place for me The positive social and economic attributes of the public spaces are weighed against very real difficulties, some of which threaten users’ basic need for safety and shelter.

Streets of opportunity

“When I sit out here...I can meet different

"I felt at home here as a gandan, but not 100%" - Male, 32.

people...even learn their language, like a new language” •

- Female, 22.

Bustling business: Most interviewees reported that the busy streets and popular shops provide bustling public spaces and excellent income generation opportunities. Intercultural conviviality: Individuals saw the focus area as a friendly place where people can connect and diverse groups come together. Variety of shops and spaces: The spaces in and around the focus were reported to offer an attractive range of shops and experiences. As one public space user described, 

• •

Unsafe: Personal and heard experiences have translated to a perception that activities related to theft and substance abuse predominate in the focus area Unattractive:  The public spaces were described by interviewees as dirty, dull or old. Overcrowded:  People experience public spaces as limited in seating and open space or over capacitated with people. The wrong crowd: The reports of interviewees reveal the perception that the open, public spaces belong to vagrants, criminals and drug dealers.

“It’s nicer here than the locations where I live... lots of different shops, and people are nice” - Male, 38 •

Accessible spaces: People described an appreciation for the open space and broad sidewalks, or low vehicle traffic and good pedestrian access that the focus area offers.

Perceptions showing disconnect with the spaces.

Perceptions showing positive connections to spaces.




Activities that matter

People expressed a preference for spaces where they could gather and connect socially and, experience art and events of cultural significance and relevance. Sport and music/ dancing were also valued as activities that public space users would like the opportunity to participate in.

"This place is meant for business, not leisure" - Male, 35 The data collected by our team show that when it comes to activities that matter, business comes before pleasure. With the the large number of street traders (particularly along lower Blanckenberg Street and Kruskal Avenue), it’s not surprising that 76% of the focus area interviewees were in these public spaces to work. Just over half of people who were in the space to work reported to participate in other activities (like shopping, socialising, eating and walking) as well. Only a small percentage travel into the area to visit and enjoy what is on offer. Economic opportunity might draw people to participate in the area, but once there the place presents other attractive opportunities for participation.  The following graph depicts the percentage of interviewees participation in various activities.

Shopping, walking and having or sharing a meal predominated activity participation within the focus area.


Discussion "People on the street are the only representation of the different cultures here" - Female, 21. The Bellville CBD Report (FCT, 2016) illustrated the fabric of cultural life in the public realm. The findings from this study around people's experiences of and participation in public spaces gives additional colour to the 2016 study, to inform interventions for relevant cultural representation and participation, for all people. Reports from the street illustrate the disconnect experienced between the people using the space and the space itself. Data from this study suggests that meaningful interventions will be those that strengthen economic opportunities as well as animate the social and cultural lives of the people groups represented in the area. To the person on the street, interventions that promote meaningful participation in the public realm are valuable so far as they promote and strengthen the important economic opportunities that the places provide. Well planned programming makes this possible. Interventions that animate cultural representation in public spaces promote ownership and attract people, improving investment and economic opportunities for cities.

Streets for people: Public spaces play a role in reflecting the vibrant cultural lives of the people that use them.



“To strengthen shared identities, we n e e d m o re o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r meaningful interaction across ethnic lines where [people] (new and old) work, learn, recreate, and live. ” - Robert Putnam (2008)

Urban interventions for cultural representation We recommend the development of specific events programming and urban landscape changes to improve the cultural representation and meaningful daily participation of all peoples in the Bellville public realm. These interventions align with the short term (0-6 month timeline) recommendations made in the Bellville CBD Report (FCT, 2016). We highly recommend that the following recommendations be implemented with ongoing community participation and flexibility to shifting preferences over time.

Urban furniture will be used to display a range of symbols, art and words that celebrate this convivial multicultural life of the public realm. Based on the findings of our research, we believe this passage is important not only in displaying diversity, but in providing an opportunity for people to interact and participate with the space and each other. Below we offer several specific interventions as a first step towards animating this passage.

The urban landscape in the Bellville CBD offers numerous opportunities to display and celebrate the unique mix of cultures represented among the people using the public spaces. We suggest the following interventions to animate urban landscape and furniture for cultural representation.

The all-people’s passage: Inspired by Superkilen, we propose a bold, colorful 500m of street and sidewalk space that displays the unique mix of cultural diversity and conviviality in the Bellville CBD. The passage offers a route to walk for people from all walks of life, celebrating the global city experienced locally. The “passage” or “walk” is created by bright, pan-African themed pavements punctuated with seating, public art, amphitheaters and mini urban gardens that exhibit the rich cultural diversity of the people that live, work and recreate in the CBD every day.

Superkilen: a 1km stretch of public space, considered one of the most ethnically diverse and socially challenged neighborhoods in Copenhagen (Image:


An All-People’s Passage A 500m passage of painted streets, sidewalks and urban furniture marking a distinctive public space where cultural integration is celebrated.

Upper Kruskal Ave.

Sports pitch

A Participative Arena (Green & Gold)

Buskers’s corner & ampitheater

Shared seating areas & Parklets

Mid Kruskal Ave.

Representative flora & green spaces

A Park of Symbols (Green) Representative flags

Public art display

Lwr Kruskal Ave.

Lwr Blanckenberg Str. Market area

Pedestrianized area

Gold Market Square (Gold)




Blanckenberg Str. Gold Market Square


Lower Kruskal Ave. A Park of Symbols


Upper Kruskal Ave. A Participative Arena


Lower Blanckenberg Street



"People on the street are the only representation of the different cultures here" - Female, 21 Needs Identified:



me ave

• •

Beautify the area Increase safety and basic comfort through lighting, seating and shelter. Display the vibrant cultural offering Strengthen the income generation potential of this space for the diverse individuals relying on these businesses.  

Pai nte dp

• •


Enhance the urban landscape to…

Attracting people beyond the Bellville CBD, bringing more business and interest into the area by displaying and allowing space for cultural exchange. According to the objectives and scope of the study, we found it essential to include at least one of the following individuals in the sample group: • A participant from prevalent foreign national communities in the area (i.e participants of Somalian or Ethiopian) • A student or young adult participant • A local, Western Cape participant • An expert participant (i.e an individual working with/ studying the area).

Seating areas shaded by trees

Market squares


Intervention: Gold Market Square


Colourful market pavilions: Redesign layout of street trading bays. Transform temporary informal steel & shade-cloth trading structures into a sheltered market area. A market invites participation beyond passer-by purchases. It creates a place to be in, to explore and experience diverse product offerings and to interact with others.

Xarranca: A pavilion space that affords a variety of exchange- Trading during the day. By night, illuminated to allow intercultural exchange in safety.

Pillars for public art: The pillars beneath the Tienie Meyer overpass offer a welcoming arch to individuals arriving into the lower Blanckenberg market area from the station.
 Bright, traditional Eastern and Western African patterns or weaves displayed on the Eastern and Western pillars mark the entrance to the passage that culminates on Upper Kruskal Avenue. Overpass pillars in Toronto (Image:


Lower Kruskal Avenue



“If I go to a place I need to feel free...I would like to see more colourful and attractive spaces" - Female, 68.

Need Identified: • Add vibrancy to beautify the space • Ensure cultural representation beyond people on streets and shop names, to create a sense of ‘home’. • Increase opportunity for intercultural and social exchange.

"I felt at home here as a Ugandan, but not 100%" - Male, 32

Goal: • Collaborating with shop owners and managers to encourage cultural representation that spills out from shop fronts and restaurants. •

Adding urban furniture to display art, worlds and symbols (including plants) representative of the multicultural public making use of the spaces.

Create open spaces that promote an atmosphere of convivial, cross-cultural participation through music, communal seating areas and mini urban gardens.


Intervention: A Park of Symbols


Parklets & Green spaces to promote intercultural participation and connection to place.

 Parklets: Large triangular public spaces where sidewalks converge with shop corners (such as cnr .of Kruskal Ave. and Church str.) can be converted into mini urban parks (or parklets). Parklets offer opportunities for gathering and lingering, discussions and events, all of which create opportunities for meaningful cultural participation and exchange. Community organisations, store owners or other groups can host pop up events in these spaces. We recommend the establishment of a community-based “Friends of the Parklets” group to coordinate events and ensure maintenance of the parklets in collaboration with municipal workers. 
 Green Spaces: Existing plant and tree beds along Kruskal Avenue should be used to display indigenous flora from across Africa. Flora provides a powerful symbol of representation and inclusivity by fostering connections between place and identity. A bare tree bed, corner of Kruskal & Church.

Norega Street Parklet in San Francisco.

Gensler’s seasonal parklet combines seating and greenery Intervention: A Park of Symbolson a spacious urban sidewalk in Washington, D.C.


Intervention: A Park of Symbols


Symbolic representation of cultural diversity

Flags or lampost banners: The imagery used for symbolic representation should be decided in consultation with community members. We recommend flags of various countries represented by the people living and working in the area, Adinkra symbols and banners stating “Welcome” or “You are home” in Swahili, Amharic, Yoruba, Afrikaans, Xhosa and other popular African languages.

Over 70 Adinkra (West African) symbols exist, expressing important cultural values such as “cooperation and interdependence” and “in unity lies strength”. Display of flags on Regent Street for London Olympics, 2012.


Intervention: A Park of Symbols


Participative Public Art

Sculpture: The traffic circles on Kruskal Avenue at Church street and Middestad Mall (featured below, respectively) are excellent focal sites for sculptures. We recommend carefully selecting local and foreign national artists to create works that illustrate the convivial and contrasting cultural dynamic of public life in the Bellville CBD. Traffic circles and dull brick walls can be repurposed for public art

Murals: Bare and dull stretches of brick wall are seen along the passage. While the pavements will be animated with colour, the shop fronts and walls should reflect the vibrancy of social and cultural life of the streets. We recommend the GTP work with shop owners to identify a number of walls (such as the grey wall on lower Kruskal Ave. featured below) for murals and other public art displays. Artist R1’s mural of chevron road signs in the Maboneng Precinct.

Open exhibition event: We recommend GTP identify a number of local and foreign national artists, representative of the diverse cultural groups in the CBD, to pitch concepts for the sculptures and public art pieces. These can be exhibited in a street exhibition on Kruskal over a 1 month period where community members can vote on their preferred artworks at the library. The Food (R)evolution public exhibition in the Company’s Garden, Cape Town.

Upper Kruskal Avenue



"“When I sit out here...I can meet different people...even learn their language, like a new language” - Female, 22.

Needs Identified: •

A space and means for community participation in culturally meaningful activities such as music, dancing and sporting events. Public participation in this space is limited by safety concerns and perceptions that the space is predominantly for criminal and drug related activities.

 "This place is meant for business, not leisure" - Male, 35

Illuminated amphitheater


Proposed sports

To upgrade the urban furniture and transform some of the existing landscape to provide pitches and arenas for cultural events and sporting participation. To offer productive, meaningful activities in the space to reclaim this common area from risk taking activities such as substance abuse, drug dealing and theft.


Intervention: A Participative Arena


Sporting events

Pop-up parking lot events: The parking area at the top of Kruskal avenue can be used to host regular five a side tournaments with a mobile, pop up pitch. Sport unites people across all divides and events draw people and reclaim underutilised street spaces in the evenings for community building activities rather than leaving these spaces dark and open for criminal activity. Permanent pitch: Invite community collaboration in demarcating a bright pitch for basketball or soccer. This invites the informal after-work match to include passers-by and promote participation in a meaningful leisure activity for the majority of individuals working in the space.

A portable 5 a side arena by Africa United can be set up in minutes, on a variety of floor surfaces.

Project Backboard: Community members turn dilapidated urban courts into vibrant community hubs.


Intervention: A Participative Arena


Interactive landscapes for cultural events

An illuminated amphitheatre: A stacked-block landscape allows for play and collective seating. The layered landscape creates a mini ampitheatre from which to enjoy the music, debate and discussion or watch a sports game on the painted pitch. Light enhances visibility which is in important element of safety as well as a welcoming aesthetic for evening events. A stage/ buskers corner: Creating a platform in the urban landscape at the corner of Cross street and Kruskal Avenue (pictured below) that creates space for  range of participation, including music and dancing (both reported as valued cultural participation for interviewees). Raised interactive surfaces in the urban landscape can provide a stage or mini pavilion to invite busking, music and dancing, all of which are meaningful activities for cultural expression.

Interactive urban landscaping creates graded surfaces that invite sitting, playing, climbing or, that offer stage.

Illuminated seating designed for Vanke Cloud City in China.


Suggestions for moving forward The incredible projects referenced in this report exist as important precedents for the kind of peacemaking efforts that celebrate diversity and cultural integration.

A role-out plan for any implementation of cultural interventions should include an introducing the concepts, workshopping the concepts to ensure shared value and identifying key partners for each intervention or section.

These precedents point us towards a higher standard of urban integration and design. Our suggestion is that each section of the recommended careful planning for implementation of each section of the passage, consulting community members, welcoming ideas and civic participation. There are several key partners that may help in executing these interventions. We believe that the priority partner is and should be the community that live, work and recreate in the focus area.

“Everyone has the right to live in a great place. More importantly, everyone has the right to contribute to making the place where they already live great." - Fred Kent, President: Project for Public Spaces



Superkilen in Copenhagen is a park that supports diversity. It is a world exhibition of furniture and everyday objects from all over the world, including benches, lampposts, trash cans and plants – requisites that every contemporary park should include and that the future visitors of the park have helped to select.

A graphic depicting the cultures represented at various parts of Superkilen

More images from Project Backboard (

Profile for Future Cape Town

Bellville CBD : Cultural Interventions  

Bellville CBD : Cultural Interventions  


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