High streets: Constructing the public realm in a low income area

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The lack of high streets in low income areas negate the socio-economic vitality of these towns. Through understanding how a high street functions one is able to appropriate the aspects of good streets to low income areas. Locally referred to as main streets, these streets are where most shops and other businesses and transport modes are found. Diversity is key in making a functional high street. Components that must be considered to create street diversity are the pace of the street, adaptability to rapid change and a concentration of things. This dissertation investigates the components that enable diversity by looking at how high streets exist within the Cape Town context. Developed high streets, emerging high streets and areas where there are no high streets are compared to further understand the components of street diversity. The dissertation proceeds to identify Main Road, Delft as an emerging high street. Main Road, Delft is then further analysed and findings reveal that the informal and institutional uses constitute the street. From further analysis, the institutional buildings reveal a lack of positive street making characteristics. The dissertation attempts, through a design of a Further Education and Training College, how to construct an institutional building that aids a positive public realm. The objective is to reinforce the emerging high street in Delft by facilitating diversity. The components of street diversity are explored by developing three building types that make various street conditions namely; a building onto a town square, a building as a thoroughfare and a building as an edge. Brick construction is adopted to construct the public realm and creates an enduring new civic image that speaks of robustness and low maintenance. The construction methods are appropriated to available skills and thus create job opportunities.

Includes bibliographical references