Inclusive urban centres

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This dissertation is about addressing the need to make township centres a more socially and economically inclusive space for the majority of the inhabitants. It is about transforming the current status of a township from a dormitory or residential zone that simply repels its inhabitants to look for a sense of wellbeing and livelihood elsewhere to a township with an active centre that retains its people through promoting and supporting context specific socio-economic opportunities of the place It has become evident in many South African townships that there is an entrepreneurial activity that supports the livelihood of people within the settlements yet this activity is largely unsupported in legislation and in built infrastructure. The entrepreneurial activity is mainly found in the informal and formal small scale, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and the neglect of this mainstream township economy, is reflected in its spatial exclusion from central business districts within cities around the country and within the township centres themselves. The Khayelitsha Business District is a township urban centre that finds its SMME economy operating on the centre's periphery while large scale enterprises, coming from outside the township dominate the built half of the business district. It is precisely this lack of representation of the formal and informal small scale, medium and micro enterprises within the Khayelitsha Business District that this dissertation seeks to address and provide a suitable architectural and urban intervention. It seems intuitive that through infrastructural interventions, that promote active social and economic participation of the majority of the population, can one seek to create spaces of socio-economic inclusion. Appropriate urban planning strategies, such as those suggested by professors David Dewar and Fabio Todeschini in their book "Urban Management and Economic Integration", and architectural examples, such as the ancient Greek Agora, will be analysed and used to equip me in imagining an inclusive vision for the further urban development of the remaining half of the business district and in designing a building that celebrates the aspirations and needs of the SMME economy. It is my hope that such an urban scheme and building will contribute positively to the ideal of an inclusive urban centre.