Urban Community Park

The Community Park was conceived as an urban space, open to all, where people could claim ownership through the collective energy they bring to it. Situated near the central business zone of Durbanville, a northern town in the 9th District of the City of Cape Town, the site forms part of the Northern Suburbs of the Metropolitan Municipality. The aim of the project as described in the  thesis is to `bring back’ the community to the `vacant park’, and in doing so to activate a new sense of place. The impulse to undertake this dissertation arose from three personal experiences – each of these was connected with the failure of essential civil services in the immediate context.

The project began with an analysis of the principles of human rights, of essential services and the collective spirit of Ubuntu. The traditional flâneur (Ilcan, 2004: 237) will become an engaged participant in the revival of the urban space, helping to transform it into a gathering place for the broader, diverse community. In line with this, the proposed architectural solution will offer a direct analogue of the Human Rights Act, as it is enshrined in the South African Constitution. The research for this project included an investigation into the role that architecture can play in bringing the user and the environment together, so as to satisfy a basic humanitarian need in a collective landscape and public space. In doing so, it will create an architecture that elevates basic human rights. Through the collective use of the environment, it will celebrate the individual spirit and bring ownership to the space.

The functions of education, health care, protection and support will be supplemented with the creation of a campus of buildings. These will open up an opportunity for architectural dialogue and investigation into various typologies. To this end,  building types similar to those of the proposed project is explored, taking into account factors such as user requirements, the placing of secondary walls within the boundary, definitions of urban space, and establishing character and identity using urban sculpture. Analyzing each precedent offered insights into the workings of the proposed project, how the site could be tailored to suit clients’ needs, how the functions of the different buildings could serve and enrich the lives of the surrounding community, and how a theoretical application could inform the design of such a typology.

The outcome was to (re-) activate the (de-) activated spaces. The user would reclaim the space and would take physical ownership, thereby activating new functional boundaries within the urban fabric of the city.