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Kliptown Explored (Panel 2)


Working towards Integrated Human Settlement Upgrade Kliptown . Soweto . Johannesburg . 2009 I 2010

Consultants: Urban Dynamics, Albonico Sack Metacity (ASM) Architects & Urban Designers, with Cohen Judin Architects
Funders: Urban Dynamics I CoJ Housing Department (JDA)t

The Urban Design Framework and development guidelines produced by the architectural and urban design team coordinated by Urban Dynamics, developed a programme for the total upgrading of the greater Kliptown area. The approach was to produce an integrated turnkey strategy per precinct to inform the formulation of the business plan for the consolidation and upgrading of the area. The aim was to provide a planned guide to the housing delivery process, fully utilise the in-fill potential of available plots around the heritage housing stock, expand the range of low-rise medium density housing options , offer mixed-use opportunities where possible, and through an incremental process, consolidate the area by providing adequate new accommodation for all.

In recognizing the complex network of social relationships and urban responses that have developed in this constrained environment, the urban interventions proposed by the framework are intended to patch up together these fragile urban living patterns. Integration will take place through a series of components and bring together under-utilised local schools and threatened commercial strips, with local extended pedestrian routes, civic squares and public facilities. The elements bringing the different precincts together are the pedestrian ribbon , new and improved bridges and a system of squares and places for social and economic interaction, and the creation of a new housing pattern which is weaved into the existing landscape- a patchwork with overlapping strips, and seams of connectivity across it's previously frayed edges.

Urban Design Principles
The framework promotes: Compact urban living + varied & site specific housing typologies + the use of shared/communal spaces + the introduction of landscaping & productive gardens.

Urban Design Framework & Housing Typologies Development
Housing typology studies were carried out by six architectural firms working in collaboration 10 provide housing types responding to the principles and objectives contained in the Urban Design Framework developed by ASMI Cohen & Judin.

The overriding urban design principles explored in the alternative typologies were:

  1. Encourage the development of mixed-use buildings along main movement routes.
  2. Introduce a range of housing solutions specific to individual needs.
  3. Improve the connectivity between precincts.
  4. Encourage the construction and upgrading of businesses along Union street and around the station.

The vision is the provision of appropriate housing and accessibility to the city for all the residents of Kliptown who are currently living in the informal settlements, while still retaining the socio-economic network through:

  1. Connectivity - Establish and reinforce multiple pedestrian connections.
  2. Sustainability - Economic and environmental
  3. Live-ability - Improvement of public and private environments.

The brief was to develop housing typologies for the specific designated precinct in Kliptown . The work was conducted in the form of 2 Charreltes where the initial conceptual proposals were then developed, costed and their viability tested.

The Architectural Practices initially prepared a conceptual response to the brief that included a precinct layout indicating block layouts, roads and site subdivisions to accommodate the proposed housing typologies. The brief did not include detailed financial costing or the necessary process of community participation and feedback..

The approach to this development is rooted in the belief that every neighbourhood is unique; culturally, socially and environmentally, and the housing programme must fit its context. The mass housing approach promulgated by the RDP programme is perpetuating the ineffectiveness of the already severely compromised urban system. It is therefore important that we begin to imagine new possibilities through direct engagement with the realities shaping people's lives, and accept that informality is "just a way" to access the opportunities of urban living.

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