Problem solver and creative thinker
Associate Urban Designer, David Lock Associates, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
Principal Urban Designer, Cape Town Municipal Government, South Africa
Currently the Head of Urban Sustainability, Cape Town Municipal Government, South Africa
Dunoon is a post-Apartheid informal settlement located 20km northeast of Cape Town’s CBD. Though planned for near 3000 families in 1995, by 2015 there were over 16000 families. The area is thus congested far beyond what can be classed as sustainable. Due to the rapid urbanisation the local authority cannot continue using conventional strategies to address the community’s needs. The result of the congestion and poverty are many residents being forced to live in informal dwellings with no electricity, freshwater and formal ablutions.
Through the use of a three year (2013-15), holistic ‘mapping and ground- truthing’ initiative by local government, three strategic approaches and nine strategies were identified as giving direction to a more localised approach to sustainable urban planning. The Learning and Innovation precinct was defined as a key project that could unlock the long-term regeneration of Dunoon. Within it, and conceived through public participation, the Dunoon Sports facility and subsequent Library (as an initial spur of an integrated multi-use, multi-owner Learning and Innovation Centre) were initiated as the entry point. An Early Childhood Development Centre, NGO spaces, an information hub to stimulate local entrepreneurship, urban agriculture and other services are to be included in the next phases.
Given the socio-economic conditions, the community views the Library as being more than itself: it’s their ‘common living room’ - both a work space and an extension of their homes. As such the role of the library has evolved into a dynamic, multi-level space for learning, pleasure and personal growth. Thus being an active agent in social transformation.
The sport facility is connected to the existing community hall via the library as a gesture of bringing sport and learning together. We also introduced elements like the spray park, climbing wall and skate park. This was attractive to community members who may not be interested in formal sports, while we insured the health and safety of children on site by splitting the existing black water run-off from the storm water and play areas.
In an area like Dunoon, with rapid in-migration far beyond what can be planned for, creative and innovative design thinking can assist in creating a positive multiplication effect.
An effective and comprehensive community development plan with a library building as a catalyst and tangible outcomes based on community participation principles. It meets all the criteria of the competition. The jury was impressed by the strategic clarity of the project and how it builds and empowers community by connecting issues to peoples’ daily lives.