Erasure layering

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This dissertation developed from an interest around sustainability and the current housing crisis within the inner-city of Cape Town. The evolution of the city has played a role in developing a layered but fragmented space that lacks a favourable density. New housing developments within the city are developer-led and market driven schemes that more often than not do not consider the rich urban and social contexts provided by the city. These schemes remove vast portions of rich urban fabric to profit from maximising bulk. While these developments do indeed add density, they lack diversity and equity. This dissertation challenges the contradiction of the positive addition of density and the negative impact of inequitable and unsustainable architecture. From a sustainable point of view the idea of continued reuse and transformation of vacant existing buildings is explored. Many existing buildings within the inner-city are not fit for their intended purpose and seen as impediments that generate unsafe spaces. These buildings have become targets for inequitable developer-led schemes as they are located on prime positioned land. This dissertation explores layering the existing by providing different layers of public and private function. The sustainability of retaining an existing building is interrogated through the lens of the value of its structure. Essentially, there is an immense amount of building stock that is underutilised and underdeveloped within the inner-city that may provide an opportunity to layer the urban fabric. This dissertation endeavours to explore a new typology that embraces density for an inclusive city through sustainable practices. The ideas of reuse, density of the city and expanding its capacity in a sensitive manner and adding to the character and rich existing urban fabric of the city are pertinent to the dissertation design. Realistic ideals such as bulk and parking as well as idealistic ideas such as how to create an equitable building in a market driven era, and everything in between, will be explored.