Building walls, breaking boundaries : a study of difference and inclusion at Deer Park, Cape Town

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

‘Building Walls: Breaking Boundaries’ is based on the manner in which difference and diversity meet in the city and how architecture and the built environment can be used as a tool to either facilitate interaction or hinder it. Cape Town is a vibrant multicultural city, endowed with a monumental natural landscape that defines its edges. Despite this, the visual language of the city is one of spatial separation; a result of the enduring legacy of Cape Town’s colonial past and modernist city planning, and further perpetuated by the segregationist programme of the Apartheid regime. Cape Town is a place where a variety of natural features and diverse landscapes and persons are concentrated, but each remains isolated and segregated, resulting in the potential of this diversity being lost. My interest lies in the exclusion of both people and animals from the city. Through contradiction and confrontation, this dissertation investigates what happens when these previously excluded groups are reintroduced back into what society deems normal or acceptable. It explores what changes occur when our neatly compartmentalised lives are injected with the unfamiliar, where the boundaries we define are traversed, and where the walls we built to keep ourselves separate are broken down. In this dissertation report, I will explain how people with mental illness and nature are included through an architectural intervention that reconciles the contrasting programs of a halfway house, a sanctuary for neglected city animals and a gateway building as a public interface for Table Mountain. While I have chosen a specific site and designed a building particular to that site, several other comparable sites have been identified within the city where this concept is relevant and can be applied within site specific opportunities and constraints. However the focus of this dissertation is not an urban scaled intervention but an architectural solution to a site which allows the fullest exploration of the conceptual framework underlying this project.

Includes bibliographical references.