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This urban design proposal works across a number of scales. They are, from largest to smallest; 1. Region; 2. Metropolitan; 3. Locality; 4. River Context; 5. Site; and, 6. Detail Study Area. The panels below reflect this and are organized and grouped according to scale. Click on the tabs, which run horizontally below, to access the different scale groupings. They should be viewed in order, starting at the broadest scale of the Region and progressively dropping down to end in a Detail Study Area. Click on the panel thumbnails to access full size panel.

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • 1. REGION: Text
  • Panels 1-6
  • Panels 7-10
  • 3. LOCALITY: Text
  • Panels 11-17
  • 4. RIVER CONTEXT: Text
  • Panels 18-22
  • 5. SITE: Panels 23-36
  • 6. DETAIL STUDY AREA: Panels 37-43
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix A
  • Appendix B
  • Bibliography

The Black River is explored as a much under-utilized urban element which can potentially provide many opportunities for the city. Along the Black River  adjacent to the Black River from the city's backyard to desirable riverfront locations. Within this context the Valkenberg-Alexandra precinct is identified as a site demonstrating the potential opportunities that can be unlocked. Opportunities which can contribute towards healing scars of fragmentation, spatial dislocation, and alienation in the city. Furthermore, guiding urban forces towards creating the beginnings of a regional city framework.

In exploring the above proposals, relevant information from G.I.A. mapping was sourced, extensively manipulated, and used. Further to this, interviews were conducted with key personel, regarding specific issues. For example, in ascertaining the possibility of implementing a ferry system on the Black River. Findings were then tied to urban design theory, mostly of Dynamic Minimalism, in weaving a common thread tying the proposal together.

A significant conclusion drawn from this proposal is that there are indeed many under-utilized and neglected backyard areas of the city. These are often located at the juxtapositions of the modern city's regional transport networks and the more localized city structure. However, these neglected areas have the potential to create healing seams within the city. Furthermore, they can offer strategic points of intervention in the creation of a more sustainable and equitable regional city, thus contributing not only a way to achieving better integration, but also providing affordable, well-located land as a sustainable local solution to the current housing and energy crisis.

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This project focuses primarily on developing the area currently occupied by the Valkenberg Hospital and the Alexandra Care and Rehabilitation Centre into a satellite campus for the University of Cape Town.

Currently the Valkenberg Hospital and the Alexandra Centre are divided by the barrier created by the Black River and the Black River Parkway. However the proposal aims to transform the Black River from a barrier into a city seam that functions as an integrator, thereby redeveloping this fragmented landscape into an integrated and unified cohesive whole. It is also proposed that the existing functions of the Valkenberg Hospital and the Alexandra Institute remain on the site and be integrated within the new context. Thereby carrying the concept of integration from the spatial through to the social. This can be very important for excluded minorities of our society, such as the mentally disabled suffering from social exclusion.

fig1 Figure 1: Key Areas of Intervention.

One of the ways in which the proposal aims to transform the Black River into a city seam is by developing a public transit ferry system on it. The water buses of the ferry system would connect from the Athlone Power Station site to Culemborg. Thus both the Culemborg and Athlone Power Station sites form key areas of intervention within the proposal.

Figure 2: Locality Diagram.

It is proposed that the Athlone Power Station site be developed as a cultural arts centre, along the lines as proposed by the City of Cape Town. It is envisioned that the Culemborg site be developed using the basic principles as presented by Louw and Dewar (2003) in their "Broader Foreshore Urban Design Framework" proposal, the Culemborg site thus being treated as the site of a major transport interchange with a boulevard connecting this interchange to the historic city centre. Further to this, it is proposed that a canal be created as an edge to this boulevard, separating the boulevard from the N1 motorway and security classified areas of the harbour, yet still re-creating a strong visual connection between the city, across the boulevard to the seafront. The boulevard canal is to link with the Black River ferry system and Waterfront to Cape Town International Conference Centre (CTICC) water taxi canal. Thus as a metropolitan scale the proposal aims to enable and encourage integration from the resource-rich Waterfront area of the city through yo the more improverished areas adjacent to the Athlone Power Station. So as well as providing a public transport system into the city centre, a potential flow of wealth outward from the city centre is also facilitated.

This is the first step in the creation of a long-term metropolitan vision, a vision where there are no places especially privaleged over others, but rather a system which includes a number of special places. As Louw and Dewar (2003) argue, each having its own "special character, which serves different parts of the city".

Figure 3: Diagram of Existing Structure.

Figure 4: Diagram of Proposed Intervention.

Figure 5: Diagram of Long Term Vision.

Furthermore, in light of future population growth and current housing shortages, the project is seen as ultimately forming part of a broader long term vision for a Regional City, as described by Mumford (1961: 575). This being achieved through developing the Culemborg transport interchange, which is identified as a knuckle of convergence for transport infrastructure entering the city. Consequently it will form a key pivot that can activate the greater region. So, by developing the Black River as a ferry system and connecting city seam to the historic city centre, the Black River urban framework acts as a lever which further magnifies the force of this pivot.

Regional Diagram

Figure 6: Regional Diagram.

Consequently the proposal's strategy is aimed at influencing the city at varying levels of city scale, namely, the regional; the metropolitan; the local; river context and; specific sites. These varying levels of city scale, listed above, are also used as headings around which this proposal's arguments are structured. These are arguments that seek to address concerns of unchecked suburban sprawl and globalized placelessness which occur in our complex cities and often confusing times. These concerns include, on the one hand the psychological, such as a sense of meaninglessness, of lost community, disorientation and placelessness. On the other hand are an array of ecological and economic concerns. Within this context Dynamic Minimalism is presented as a strategy which can be applied to counteracting current forces leading to the paradox of concentration and urban sprawl.

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This section of the project locates the Black River Urban Design Framework Proposal within a vision for a broader regional development strategy. The importance of such a broader regional strategy is discussed and argued for, with the aim of demonstrating how urban design development proposals should ideally form part of, and fall within, such broader strategies.

So, supporting a broader regional vision, a long–term strategy of the Black River urban design framework is to attract, trap and channel existing urban energy towards the Culemborg transport interchange, rather than letting all the energy simply flow through Culemborg as currently happens.

The development of the Black River to support a ferry system and as a positive urban element is critical to achieving this, for three reasons. Firstly, in directing urban energy through the Culemborg interchange via public transport. Importantly, a public transport system that generally requires a modal interchange at strategic points. Secondly, by developing the Black River as a positive urban element, it means that much of the energy that normally would flow through the Culemborg interchange without achieving anything can now be trapped by the positive attributes of the Black River urban development. Thirdly, by developing the Black River as a positive urban element it means that energy will be attracted to the area regardless of its function as a transport hub. Once the Black River has established itself as an attractor and the Culemborg interchange has become a fixed point of urban energy, then this energy can be directed out into the greater city region in the development of an enabling regional city framework.

The need for urban design frameworks in creating development opportunity, which forms part of a larger regional strategic vision is becoming more pressing as Cape Towns population puts increasing pressure on the natural environment which supports it. The Dorrington Report (2005: 4) notes that the 2001 census results show that since the 1996 census, "ignoring any minor changes to overall boundaries according to censuses the population has increased from 2,558 million to 2,893 million (an increase of some 12%)" in the City of Cape Town. Further, the Dorrington Report (2005: 58 & 59) projects a population figure total for 2021 to possibly even as high as 4,055,219 (low projection total of 3,356,631).

Furthermore the City of Cape Town social study survey of residents of Joe Slovo; Nonquebela K-section; Sweet Home/ Cape Town Report, Annexure 3C (2005: 20) argues that poverty-stricken households moving to the city to access essential facilities such as schools, live in extremely precarious and harsh conditions. Significantly, the Report Annexure 3C (2005: 20) argues that, "South Africa in general, including Cape Town, is no different from any other developing country throughout the world in terms of rapid urbanisation … This trend can put catastrophic pressures on local communities and national economies." Then the Report Annexure 3C (2005: 20) draws attention to a report in the Mail and Guardian Monitor Sept 3-9 2004, which estimates that globally

"70% of those who move to cities out of necessity (to escape poverty) over the next 30 years, will live in slums. An overview shows that in 1950, 18% of people in developing countries lived in cities; by 2000, this had risen to 40%; and by 2030 it will reach 56%. The author warns that this dangerous approach … 'towards an urbanisation without livelihoods sets up the pathologies of violence, the consequences of which are not difficult to forsee' ."

So, rather than escalating conflict and draining resources by developing the limited and costly available well–located land, a vision for a regional development framework needs to be supported, thereby expanding well located development opportunities from the already congested city centre to include the entire regional framework. Thus creating a framework that strives to ensure access to the land market and reasonable opportunities are available to all.

Consequently, in accommodating predicted future population growth and current housing needs the proposal puts forward a vision of developing an integrated regional pattern of "town and country" (Mumford 1961). Although, Ellin (1999: 11) argues that, "we know we will never return to pre-industrial integration, but the possibility of integration at another level now appears within our reach."

Attention is also drawn to arguments that Legum (2005) presents supporting the development of a localized economy which reduces the reliance on fossil fuels and the whims of global markets. Here Legum (2005: 13) contests arguments which explain "Africa's poverty in terms of exclusion from world trade because rich countries protect their economies, while requiring us to open our markets to them." As Legum (2005: 13) argues, "the problem with that diagnosis is that it leaves hope for Africa again at the mercy of the policy of others." For instance Legum (2005: 13) asks if political leaders of US and EU "will voluntarily cut support to their own voters so as to advantage us. And that trade will be the 'engine of growth' for ever, despite the fact that trade depends on the era of cheap oil, whose end is really nigh."

As an alternative Legum (2005: 13) presents the following arguments,

"The truth is that the global market is unsustainable – not only because it has an army of enemies globally, but because lack of cheap fossil fuels will put up the cost of trade relative to local enterprise. The market itself will come in on the side of all localization of all economies.

In practice that means a new picture of the world we will shortly live in. Replacing the paradise of choice on supermarket shelves – mangoes in the winter, the latest Californian gizmoes, single-person shopping across the town in the 4x4 – will be fresh food, grown locally, without petroleum–based chemicals; small schools; community support for old people and children in trouble; local sources of renewable energy, some making so much of it can be fed into the grid; most people working close to their homes but connected worldwide; most things recycled; all buildings insulated from cold and heat. Farming will be urban as well as rural. Public services will be locally staffed and governed, though funded centrally. Also expensive air travel; and dependence on public transport."

Later Legum (2005) argues that on the way to achieving this alternative we should in the meantime "join the global movement to protect our own markets and localise our trade." Accordingly, Louw and Dewar (2003) argue, this should be achieved by taking pressure off the historic centre of Cape Town and understanding it simply as "one unique centre in a metropolitan systems of special places." Consequently, Louw and Dewar (2003) argue that, "this requires acceptance of a view that conceptualizes the CBD not as the hierarchially dominant centre of Cape Town (a view which requires ongoing special attention and investment to maintain the CBD's position) but as an important part of a metropolitan system of centres, each with a unique character, which serves different parts of the city."

Regarding the special attention and investment needed to maintain the CBD's dominance, the City of Cape Town (2006: 8) notes that

Links with surrounding towns are growing. Cape Town's water is drawn from further and further away, while new landfill waste sites are likely to be located outside the metropolitan boundary. The natural resources and valuable agricultural land of adjacent municipalities are being put under pressure. Effective planning for Cape Town can only be done within the context of a joint strategy for the region.

So at the regional scale this project firstly aims to initiate the beginings of a framework for the city–region which creates a sense of order and stability. Consequently the project supports developing a symbolic regional framework to conceptually structure the city region. For as Crane (1960-2) argues, at the regional scale clues need to be given to enable city users to form a symbolic image of the complete city in their minds eye. This symbolic image forms the framework around which city users structure their activities. This is important for a number of practical and psychological reasons. For example, for city users to orientate themselves, to identify with certain places and form a sense of cultural identity. This despite the fact that these city users will never see this complete image in reality.

Also, as Giurgola (1965) points out, the acknowledgement of this 'reality of the partial vision' is important for city builders in determining which 'monumental pivots' to focus limited resources on, and where not to interfere, thus forming the spinal structure for the city to develop around. At the regional scale the proposal aims to activate key pivots which access the region and this symbolic city via movement infrastructure, the rail network playing a critical role. (See drawing panel no.2. Region: The Movent System – click on tab at top of page: panels 1-6) This would provide the opportunity for upgrading the existing rail system where necessary so as to provide a regional system of public transport. For without an easily accessible regional transport system the city cannot function properly as a regional entity. Development then needs to be structured along strategic points of this transport system. Furthermore these strategic points need to be defined and located so as to be as self–sufficient as possible. So a major factor influencing the location of these strategic points is perennial water availabilty. (See drawing panel no. 1. Region: The Green System – click on tab at top of page: panels 1-6)

Further supporting an argument for developing an integrated regional pattern of town and country are Illich's (1975:157) arguments of the convergence of the fuel and food crisis. To illustrate, Illich (1975: 157) argues that "each pound of fertilizer requires from 5 to 10 pounds of fossil fuel to make and transport. Rising fuel prices decrease the amount of water people can pump". Consequently Illich (1975: 157 – 158) argues that "paradoxically, the attempt to counter famine by further increases in industrially efficient agriculture only widens ther scope of the catastophe by depressing the use of marginal lands. Famine will increase until the trend towards capital–intensive food production has been replaced by a new kind of labour–intensive, regional, rural autonomy".

Importantly the City of Cape Town (2006: 9) argues that Cape Town should be understood "as a city within a region and that Cape Town's future growth and development, both economic and social, is interlinked with the region." Resources adding value to the region need to be identified and sustainably harvested. Furthermore the economic value of these resources needs to be protected. For example, as reported in the Cape Times, the recent legal battle that the local Rooibos tea industry, particular to the Clanwilliam area in the Western Cape, has fought to retain the name of Rooibos as a South African product. Another example is Pinotage wines, a product developed in the Western Cape.

Also Dewar and Kiepel (2004: 52) draw our attention to Braudel (1981; 1984) and note the observation that "the economy of capitalist countries involves three circuits of capital that interact in complex ways: the non–market or subsistence economy (which requires appropriate places of opportunity supporting the emergence of this economy); the market economy …; and the capitalist sector, that includes large corporations, multi and transnational enterprises".

Unfortunately Dewar and Kiepel (2004: 51) point out that

"there is a real danger … that these processes, increasingly influenced by growing globalisation, shut down opportunities for operations in vernacular subsistence or small market sectors …

… (Consequently) to ensure that the preconditions for all (three circuits of capital) to exist (and) are in place … Actions may include:

  • The creation of spatial preconditions (eg the construction of strategic local connector routes to expand markets; the creation of mechanisms (such as markets and manufacturing hives) to ensure that small enterprises can operate in really viable locations with very low overheads) (Dewar & Todeschini, 1999: 89)
  • Different forms of resource evaluation (for example, identifying and protecting local resources which may not have market value for larger market–driven circuits, but which are central to the survival chances of operators in the subsistence economy) (Kiepel & Quinlan 2000:31)
  • Differing land tenure arrangements to allow for choice.
  • Different technological and infrastructural requirements (such as rain tanks to capture roof run–off and other forms of small–scale water capture and the recycling of grey water)
  • Ensuring access to markets under conditions of small and erratic surpluses (such as the organization of periodic market circuits)."

Consequently the Black River Urban Design Framework Proposal should be seen as part of a regional strategy which strives to ensure that all three sectors of the economy which Dewar and Kiepel (2004: 52) discuss are supported.

The idea of a regional framework strategy goes back in part to the Garden City movement. As Mumford, (1940: 395) argues, one of the ways in which Howard showed "his keen social imagination (was that) his vision was bi-focal: he saw the countryside as well as the city … The depopulation of the country and the overpopulation of the city were aspects of a single set of facts: the problem of bettering life at both poles was a single one." Consequently Mumford (1961: 592) argues that Howard's Garden Cities "intuitively grasped the potential form of the etherialized city of the future, which would unite the urban and the rural components into a porous regional complex, multi-centred but capable of functioning as a whole."

In fact Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 47) argue that there are three basic landscapes of society, namely, the primeval or wilderness, productive rural and urban landscapes. In addition, access to all three landscapes should be considered a fundamental human right. Further Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 47) argue that in order to create complementary and sustainable relationships between the three landscapes "a powerful geometry of zonality, driven by the concept of access" needs to be established. Furthermore, Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 51) point out that in this zonal geometry, "the primeval component establishes a grid of nodes and corridors that, structurally, is the photo-reversal of the linear-nodal configuration of the routes".

Moreover, a regional framework needs to be constituted at a variety of scales, from the smallest couplings of urban elements to the broadest skeletal continuity of symbolic order. Thus, providing for a system of coordinated critical infrastructure while allowing for the emergent development of complexity to evolve. As Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 47) argue, "a flexible plan for a rural region can also be the starting point for a coherent city plan."

Within this framework urban nodes should act as enclaves (much like for example the Italian or Portuguese hill towns of Perugia or Evora), which reference to a larger network of enclaves within the expanded city-region. As a metaphor to understanding enclaves, Shane, (2005: 176) draws attention to a definition of 'enclaves' as an "outlying territory belonging to one country and lying wholly in the territory of another." For an example of a possible regional imageability diagram and framework for the Western Cape see drawing panel no. 3. Region: Built System, (Click on tab at top of page: panels 1-6).

integrating the Green and the Built Systems. First Actions.
Interface to Rural. Urban edge retained with selected regional development points.

Figure 7: Integrating the Green and the Built Systems. First Actions.

Integrating the Green and Built Systems. Long Term Vision.
Long term vision.
City growth later forming controlled develpment webb with 'green rooms' inbetween.
– intensive agriculture bufferring extensive agriculture, bufferring wilderness.

Figure 8: Integrating the Green and Built Systems. Long Term Vision.

Within the regional framework, specific areas of opportunity need to be identified to act as orientating urban enclaves. Then these 'fragments' of the region function in structuring a conceptual whole of the region. Similarly Shane (2005: 165) argues that Le Corbusier and Picasso, both influential contributers to modernist thought, apired to creating a new reality by only representing key elements of our common Gestalt models. So the enclave should be seen as a fragment of an obscured whole which references the larger city-region. In the dispersed modern city where it is not possible to see the physical whole this can be a very useful orientating device by allowing the whole to be seen in the mind's eye, thus enabling inhabitants to construct and reference their own worlds from minimal symbolic cues in the city-region.

Regional DiagramFigure 9: Regional Framework.

So a bounded enclave of refuge can reference a system of similar bounded refuges (See Regional Framework examples – Figures 6, in Introduction, and Figure 9, above). This is demonstrated by the precedent of the Cape Dutch homesteads of the Western Cape and also as set by the dispersed historic mission settlements, such as Genadendal, Elim, Suurbraak and Wupperthal. Constructed with common urban elements and symbol sets these settlements create a perceptual whole. So although spatially dispersed, they were symbolically cohesive as elements referring perceptually to a regional whole, thereby creating a regional identity. Also, as fragments these enclaves were economical in creating the regional whole. For as Venturi (1977: 90) argues, "the valid fragment is economical because it implies richness beyond itself." For example, notice the tree'd areas and enclosing low white-washed walls of Groot Constantia and Genadendal, both in the Western Cape, South Africa, in figures 10 –12 below.

Groot Constantia Cape TownFigure 10: Groot Constantia, Cape Town.

Genadendal, South AfricaFigure 11: Genadendal, Western Cape, South Africa.

Genadendal South AfricaFigure 12: Genadendal, Western Cape, South Africa.

Thus it is argued that the development of the Black River urban design framework as afragment should reference to a larger skeletal continuity and spinal system of symbolic order on the city-regional scale. In charting a way forward to developing a regional framework strategy, Crane (1960-2: 280) draws attention to this human need for a sense of wholeness, this revealing of the invisible and argues that it is the task of the city designer to satisfy this need to see things that are not visible. Consequently the creation of at least a skeletal continuity on a metropolitan scale is of primary importance. As Venturi (1977: 88) points out, "Gestalt psychology considers a perceptual whole the result of, and yet more than the sum of its parts … (so in) complex compositions, a special obligation toward the whole encourages the fragmentary part."

The network of regional enclaves can then be conceptualized as what Vigano (1999 cited in Shane 2005: 158) descibes as "the 'reverse city' that expands the city out into the surrounding region, the city territory". Here enclaves of opportunity are connected by existing linear transport infrastructure systems which also need to be designed as elements. Consequently the enclaves act as referencing anchors in the physical landscape and the landscape of flows, thus providing a sense of place and stability. They performed a similar function in that respect to the pre-modern historic city, providing a refuge in a world of chaos. However, instead of being mono-centric like the historic city, these multiple enclaves form a poly-centric pattern. This poly-centric, pattern being connected by modern linkages. Accordingly Shane (2005: 306) argues that "contemporary urban actors have used rapid communications systems to superimpose the network city on older city systems over the city territory. The superimposed network city may be relatively inconspicuous, dissolving into the landscape thanks to high-speed transportation and communications networks." This Shane (2005: 175), describes as "a multi-threaded system with pulses of growth occurring at multiple, hybrid centres." In addition Viagno (1999 cited in Shane 2005: 158) argues that as "the difference between the historic city and the modern city is the product of a simple code reversal" the two systems elements can be framed "as layers in the 'built landscape' of the city", as such referring to "the 'reverse city' that expands the city out into the surrounding region, the 'city territory'." Hence Shane (2005: 160) draws attention to Viagno's (1999) investigations of the reverse city concept, which refers to the minimalist art and sculpture of Rosalind E. Krauss's 'expanded field of sculpture essay'. Here, Shane (2005: 160) points out that Vigano (1999) sees, "seriality, rhythms, (and) repetitions space isolated villas and object-buildings along routes of transportation and communication" which emerge as linear patterns. Likewise Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 48) argue that "in effect these routes should be seen as 'activity or investment lines': the issue becomes the articulation of rhythm of public transportation and those public elements, which generate interaction in rural areas."

Accordingly, Shane (2005: 160) points out that part of Vigano's (1999) understanding of urban order is gained "by concentrating on the continuity of the connecting void-spaces in the built landscapes". In addition Shane (2005: 161) points out that these spaces of the city-territory can be mapped (including infrastructure) by Geographical Information Systems (GIS), which calculates the energy flows of the various systems and structures in these spaces, "giving the Net City concept a dynamic, interactive, informational, and ecological precision."

Moreover the linear transport infrastructure systems provide an opportunity for the location of bulk line srvices. As Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 52) note,

"it has been argued that, appropriately, bulk line services which require high levels of threshold support, should be located in association with regional routes, which attract higher order social and economic services and increasingly intensifying populations. However, access to these services (such as potable water, electricity, land-line telecommunications) drop rapidly away from the route.

… (So) an essential part of the package, …, must include 'soft' technologies with environmental benefits and very low operating costs (for example, solar panels, rainwater tanks.) …

It follows that the lowest entry to services should be provided with little or no operating or maintenance costs. This not only implies active conservation of natural resources (for example, indigenous fuel-wood) but the use of 'soft' technologies with minor running costs (for example, solar energy, borehole water supply)".

Furthermore Mumford (1961: 642-643) argues that "the old functions of the urban container (have) been supplemented by new functions, exercised through what (he calls) the functional grid: the framework of the invisible city. Like the old container the new grid, in all its forms – industrial, cultural, urban – lends itself to both good and bad uses. But what is even more significant is the fact that the form has appeared in so many different places as an organic response to present-day needs. The new image of the city must in part be an expression of these new realities. On that score, both the old metropolis and the new conurbation lamentably fail, for they have tended to efface instead of reintegrating the essential components of the city. Technologically, two of the most perfect examples of this new network are in our power and communication systems: particularly clear in the electric power grid".

Ultimately, Shane (2005: 72) argues, is the formation of "the more evenly distributed network morphology of the Ecological City (a.k.a. the City as an Organism) with its various hybrid nodes of various vintages and sizes, reconditioned by informational systems and constant feedback from a vast constellation of cellular enclaves scattered across the globe." This city form Shane (2005: 102 & 103) calls the tele-citta and points out that here "psychology and marketing merge in the creation of vast new enclaves of visual order that are nested as attractors within global networks". Here Sassen (2001: 119) argues, a "new networked sub-economy occupies a strategic geography, partly deterritorialized that cuts across borders and connects a variety of points on the globe. It occupies only a fraction of its 'local setting; its boundaries are not those of the city in which it is partly located or those of the 'neighbourhood'. The sub-economy interfaces the intensity of the vast concentration of very material resources it needs when it hits the ground and the fact of its global span or cross-border geography. Its interlocutor is not the surrounding, the context, but the fact of the global."

However this technology does not contribute to a sense of place. Furthermore, Shane (2005: 162 & 163) argues that, in the modern net or tele citta, with its 'remote-communication', there is a great sense of loss of community and interconnection. This is an issue which the Black River urban design framework needs to address. A possible remedy to this may be found in the precedent of the historic city. Here communication occurred primarily on a face–to–face basis. Accordingly Mumford (1961: 80) mentions, "the gossip of the well or the town pump, the talk at the pub or the washboard, the proclamations of messenger or heralds, (and) the confidences of friends." In addition, Venturi (1977) argues that multiple integrated elements combine, bridging the scale between the city and the human, creating rich, humanistic urban environments, thereby recreating a tactile sense of community, human interaction and opportunity so often lost in the modern city. Consequently Venturi (1977: 70) argues that "contained intricacy", or enclaves as Shane (2005) calls them, may be one way of retaining a sense of order.

A tool which can be used to create a sense of stability, place and timelessness within these enclaves is that of critical regionalism. Kolb (1990: 180) argues that unlike a simple regionalism that unquestioningly aims to maintain local forms, critical regionalism recognizes that we are not completely "immersed in either a regional or a universal context." Critical regionalism then "works with the tension between universal and local culture". Interestingly Eco (1986: 84), when comparing our time in history with the Middle Ages, argues that, of "our own Middle Ages, it has been said, will be an age of 'permanent transition' for which new methods of adjustment will have to be employed. The problem will not so much be that of preserving the past scientifically as of developing hypotheses for the exploration of disorder, entering into the logic of conflictuality. There will be born – it is already coming into existence – a culture of constant readjustment, fed on utopia … The Middle Ages preserved in its way the heritage of the past but not through hibernation, rather through a constant retranslation and reuse; it was an immense work of bricolage, balanced among nostalgia, hope, and despair." In addition Nan (1999: 10) argues that "while simplicity is sought, it is not the pared–down 'form follows function' of modernism. From less is more, the goal might now be described as 'more from less', … The difference is in the inspiration (not platonic forms and geometry, but nature, the vernacular, the mundane, the 'everyday') and the goal (not universality or nostalgia or theme-ing, but a critical regionalism or appropriate modernity). The resultant product … is a place that sustains the environment including the people who use it."

Consequently the process of applying critical regionalism is that of a dynamic tool, yet a tool which can assist in creating a symbolic perception of the enclave as a fragment of 'the difficult whole'. For as Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 53) argue, regional plans should be "sensitively applied to the cultural and natural landscape (to) promote the emergence of 'timeless qualities' of the region". Also, Habraken (1982) argues for the search of deep structures easily understood by everyone in a collective understanding. However, as Crane (1960-2) argues, uncovering these 'deep structures' is not easy in our eclectic modern society of vast communication networks, and host of competing borrowed shapes and images. Possibly a study of the various ways which the public/private interface has been traditionally handled in the Western Cape would be a good starting point for this, an enclave which does not seek a core identity, but draws on the pluralities and complexities of the Western Cape. For as Veregge (1997: 50) argues, providing a 'more inclusive cultural citizenship' that connects ethnic identity to public places and gives them a "sense of belonging to the broader culture." An identity which informs the fragment in reinforcing the symbolic whole of the city-region.

Thus, as Kolb (1990: 180 & 181) describes, ordering the modern city as a network of enclaves resistant to waves of commercial jumble beating against them. Consquently Frampton (1982: 82 cited in Kolb 1990: 181) argues for "the bounded urban fragment (as a check against) the place-less, consumerist environment".

Clues as to where these enclaves can be formed are given by the interstices of opportunity which can be created in the city fabric at the juxtapositions of modern city's vast regional transport networks and the more ordered movement patterns of their historic (or created historic) referencing cores; for example where Venturi (1977: 64) argues that "the nineteenth century American 'elevated' which was juxtaposed above the street anticipated the multi-level city like Sigmond's plan for Berlin". Interpenetrations of these two systems then form interesting interstices of opportunity. Also Venturi (1977: 80) argues that "residual space in between dominant spaces, … (which) can occur at the scale of the city … is (also) characteristic of the fora and other complexes of late Roman urban planning." However the challenge then lies in creatively developing these spaces positively. For as Venturi (1977: 80) argues, the residual spaces in our cities often just become "no-man's lands between the scale of the region and locality." Consequently the Black River area has been identified as such a 'no-mans' land caught 'between the scale of the region and the locality'. However, as previously mentioned, such spaces also provide interesting interstices of opportunity which the Black River Urban Design Framework Proposal seeks to unlock.

Within the context of the broader region proposed enclaves should operate as pivots, much as Giutgola (1965: 108) explains in relation to city building of the past "only essential parts of the city: squares, harbours, acropolises, and the like were created as pivots to the subsequent distribution of operative and residential areas". There was a significantr distinction between the public and private built structure. Pivots would be carefully designed and acted as an underlying framework. As the Black River Urban Design Framework Proposal attempts to demonstrate through selecting only specific strategic areas of intervention. Then within these strategic areas of intervention only key elements of the framework should be designed as the proposed development plan for the Valkenberg–Alexandra precinct site aims to demonstrate. So the private built structure is then free to develop as required, with minimal restrictions, around this framework. By not designing everything, and acknowledging 'the reality of the partial vision', as descibed by Giurgola (1965), a space for highly liveable and vibrant environments to emerge is left. The proposed transport node redevelopment at the Culemborg interchange could act as an important pivot in the city. For it would also function at the regional scale as a pivot directing urban forces to the 'reverse city' of the expanded city-region. Importantly, as Crane (1960) in discussing the concept of the City Symbolic, argues, this city–regional structure should occur so as to enable urban development to occur within low thresholds of energy (see drawing panel nos. 5 & 6 showing regional diagram and framework).

In fact Illich (1974: 15) argues that the term 'energy crisis' euphemistically "conceals a contradiction and consecrates an illusion. It masks the contradiction implicit in the joint pursuit of equity and industrial growth". Further Illich (1974: 15) argues that "the language of crisis obscures" the reality that "high quanta of energy degrade social relations just as inevitably as they destroy the physical milieu". Then Illich (1974: 16) refers to man's dependence on slaves or "motors to do most of his work". However Illich (1974: 17) argues that "participatory democracy postulates low–energy technology. Only participatory democracy creates the conditions for rational technology."

Because Illich (1974: 17) argues, "what is generally overlooked is that equity and energy can grow concurrently only to a point. Below a threshold of per capita wattage, motors improve the conditions for social progress. Above this threshold, energy grows at the expense of equity". Consequently Illich (1974: 19 – 20) argues that metaphorically speaking, "a people can be just as dangerously overpowered by the wattage of its tools as by the caloric content of its foods … (as with energy wattage) calories are both biologically and socially healthy only as long as they stay within the narrow range that separates enough from too much".

Accordingly Illich (1974: 21) points out that "in countries that were made affluent by industrial development, the energy crisis serves as a whip to raise the taxes which will be needed to substitute new, more sober and socially more deadly industrial processes for those that been rendered obsolete by inefficient over–expansion".

Therefore Illich (1974: 22) argues "the need for limits on the per capita use of energy must be theoretically recognized as a social imperative. Then, the range must be located wherein a critical magnitude might be found. Finally, each community has to identify the levels of inequity, harrying and operant conditioning that its members are willing to accept in exchange for the satisfaction that comes of idolizing powerful devices". So Illich (1974: 240) argues that "participatory democracy demands low–energy technology, and free people must travel the road to productive social relations at the speed of a bicycle".

Consequently Illich (1974: 35 - 36) argues that "past a certain threshold of energy consumption, the transportation industry dictates the configuration of social space". Then, Illich (1974: 36 points out "the habitual passenger is caught at the wrong end of growing inequality, time scarcity and personal impotence, but he can see no way out of this bind except to demand more of the same: more traffic by transport". As a result of this, Illich (1974: 37) argues, he has become impotent to establish his domain, mark it with his imprint and assert his sovereignty over it. He lost confidence in his power to admit others into his presence and to share space conciously with them".

Significantly, in discussing the communications networks of the time (late 1930s) Mumford, (1940: 344) argues that, "the effect of all these instuments is to enlarge the sphere of activity at the same time that they diminish the need for physical movement and close settlement.) … (but that) it is necessary not only to break up old areas of congestion but also to creatre new centres of industrial and civic life." Consequently Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 45) point out that it has become necessary "to guide processes of settlement formation so that relatively stable and efficient settlements result."

In addition Mumford, (1940: 346) draws attention to the early seaboard settlement in America, where in an integrated regional life, places of learning were widely distributed and "served as nodes of cultural growth." These 'nodes of cultural growth' can also serve as bulwarks against indifference to regional realities, allowing as Mumford (1940: 351) says, the colours of the underlying geographic, economic, and cultural realities to show through the whitewash of 'national unity'. Thus allowing for, as Mumford, (1960: 361 & 362) argues, "a more effective unity through their representation and integration." Similarly, Illich (1970: 92) argues for "an institutional framework which constantly educates to action, participation, and self-help", educational webs. These webs can be overlaid on existing city networks which Mumford (1960: 642) refers to as the invisible city. Then Crane (1964: 87) argues that "with this broadening of the Athenian ideal, we may then be on the road toward building a culture appropriate to the heterogeneous demands of our time".

The development of the proposed enclaves should not be too presciptive, but rather created as a spinal structure that facilitates and orders future spontaneous actions, structures which provide the opportunity for a matrix of natural connections and vitality to occur, which Alexander (1972) describes as the semi–lattice in his article, The City is not a Tree. For as Salingaros (2000: 292) argues, "long–term stability depends upon allowing for emergent connections." (See Fig. 13. Spinal framework of structuring urban elements.)

Spinal framework of structuring urban elementsFigure 13: Spinal framework of structuring urban elements.

Consequently the structuring elements of cities, as described by Salingaros, need to develop as a coherent integrated system of sub–elements forming a dynamic and complex whole, even though the complete vision of these elements can never be seen. However structures can be set up (or guided) to ensure the development of vibrant urban systems. As Venturi (1977: 102 & 103) argues, "the complex program which is a process, continually changing and growing in time yet at each stage at some level related to the whole, should be recognized as essential at the scale of city planning."

Therefore it is important to provide a structure that hints at a vision of the complete region. This should be a symbolic vision and can be structured over a geography of recognizable distances. So regional structure should be more than just functional, but also cultural. For, as Heut (1984: 14) argues, "the city cannot deprive itself of symbolism (signs of recognition) if only for the simple purposes of orientation and comprehension on the part of the inhabitants."

In addition Kolb (1990:113) argues, that while we can conceptualize life of other societies, "we have no equal access to history" and cannot react as such societies might. Consequently Kolb (1990: 114) argues that our past, even our immediate past, is not a fixed base. However, on the other hand Kolb (1990: 115) argues that a universal master language that disregards history also fails. While on the other hand this does not mean that the past does not have an influence on us, or that we can ignore its symbolic meanings. Rather a way of accessing and reinterpreting their meanings is required. Consequently, Kolb (1990: 115) argues that, if we cannot rely on some master vocabulary, we should utilize the "historical contrasts and continuities" in an architectural language which also recognizes meanings "already embodied in ongoing local practices".

At the same time Kolb (1990: 159) argues that "if we are to build places for ourselves, we need to know who we are". Therefore Kolb (1990: 160) argues that, "what we need is allegiance, belonging, building this way because it fits, because we are already in that stream, because we inhabit that world".

For example, Habraken (1976) demonstrates this approach in the project proposal for a civic centre in Amsterdam, beautifully described in the article by Habraken (1976) titled, "The Leaves and the Flowers". Here Habraken (1976) related the primary structure, for this project, on the underlying structural principles of the traditional Amsterdam canal houses. Structurally these houses followed the custom of building brick party walls and load–bearing beams. The facades attached to this structure, essentially as curtain walls. By relating the structure of the project for a civic centre in Amsterdam to the structural principles of traditional Amsterdam canal houses, Habraken (1976) effectively controlled the scale of the project and provided a framework for other designers and future modifications to occur within. (For a different example, local to the Western Cape in South Agrica, showing the tradition of defining space with white–washed walls and shade, moderated with stategic tree planting, see Figs. nos. 10–12).

Although Kolb (1990: 164 & 165) presents critical regionalism as a promising guide, he warns against expecting tidy internal unity as "historical identities seldom if ever sort themselves out into neat regions." Also Kolb (1990: 165 & 166) argues against searching for a core identity in Regionalism, but rather for taking advantage of existing dynamics. For, "a regional tone is partly found, partly created, always changing." This clearly demonstrated in the development of Habarken's project for a civic centre in Amsterdam, briefly discussed above. A project that uses the traditional local building methods in creating a structural framework which can accommodate an array of designers and future contributions.

Also, Kolb (1990: 166) argues, the historical and multiple is also not completely pliable. Consequently judgements need to be made where there are no rules, but these judgements cannot also be arbitary. As Kolb (1990: 175) argues, "intellectual and cultural space may have a strange discontinuous topology, but physical space remains stubbonly finite and continuous. Our buildings will stand together whether we do or not."

In short, the proposed project aims to play city structural Judo, using the existing momentum of forces for centralization towards the historic city centre, then deflecting them primarily through the Culemborg interchange to rather activate the potential of the city–region, thereby creating the beginnings of a sense of place and order that seeks to undo some of the harmful forces of our past (and globalization) which have polarized the city–region. Ultimately this project forms part of a vision for the development of a cohesive framework for the city–region, a framework which seeks to structure 'a difficult whole'. A possible starting point for this framework is the development of a regional diagram. (As a proposed example see drawing panel no. 5.) Note, this regional diagram is constructed from information presented on drawing panels nos. 1–3. The regional diagram is then warped over the landscape to form a strategic regional framework (as shown on drawing panel no. 6).

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2. Metropolitan
The implementation of a ferry system on the Black River as part of a public transport service is seen as a device which has the potential to better integrate the city, particularly with the marginalized southeast. Further it is intended that as well as functioning as a linear connecting element supporting accessibility the Black River urban design development framework should act as a seam, stitching areas adjacent to it together. Furthermore, in facilitating spatial integration and improving public transport accessibility it is envisaged that opportunities for the emergence and development of vibrant public spaces outside the traditional CBD will be created.

Thus at the metropolitan scale the proposal aims to reduce the dominance of the CBD and the problems this causes. Problems which include, traffic congestion, furthering inequalities in the city and the continued waste of resources in maintaining the dominance of the CBD. For as Louw and Dewar (2003) argue the "increasingly eccentric metropolitan location (of Cape Town's city centre) … has led to ever increasing investments in movement infrastructure (in the form of rail connections and freeways) to reinforce its threatened primacy".

Also, as the Metropolitan Spatial Development FRamework (MSDF) (1996: 20) points out, a result being a massive movement of people on a daily basis between home and work. Significantly the City of Cape Town social study survey of residents of Joe Slovo; Nonquebela K–section; Sweet Home/ Cape Town. Report Annexure 3A (2005: 3) indicates that "87% households in the study areas fell below the Household Subsistence level of R 1 900 per month." Further, the Report Annexure 3A (2005: 12) points out that "transport costs for the working poor living in satellite city suburbs far from their places of work, are a major burden and drain on household income … (Also that) the largest concentration was Cape Town city centre, which was the place of work for 11%."

Accordingly the project aims to initiate a strategy that can be applied to counteracting the current paradox of alienation, concentration and urban sprawl of Cape Town – the paradox of centralization leading to fragmentation and dispersal. (See drawing panel no. 10, Diag 1 – Existing Structure. Click on tab for Panels 7-10 at top of this page to navigate to this drawing panel) Consequences of this including marginalization, inadequate housing (both in the supply and the quality), and polarising the city. In addition, the effects of globalization have further polarised the city. As Beall (2002:41) argues, globalization places contradictory demands on the roles of city governments. For example Beall (2002: 41) argues that as city governments "seek to keep their city competitive in an increasingly globalized world economy (they) also (have) increasing responsibilities for addressing social problems, and making local economic development less exclusionary." For instance, Beall (2002: 48) argues that, "Johannesburg remains a highly unequal city in a global context where urban poverty and inequality are growing almost everywhere. Significant numbers among the middle classes compete in global financial and trade markets, and most adhere to international norms of urban consumption and culture. They present their demands as vociferously as do the city's poor and historically disadvantaged populations". Under such conditions the city's poor and historically disadvantaged populations inevitably are losers. Consequently environments and life for the city's poor are often harsh. For a brief snapshot into a part of this world see appendix A containing a summary from a newspaper article titled 'Stop the neglect that feeds gang life'.

Some interesting parallels can be drawn to conditions which existed in the Middle Ages. For example, Eco (1986: 78) argues that, "it seems improbable, but the fact is that in his lifetime a man had few occaisions to see his neighbouring city and many occaisions to go to Santiago de Compostela or to Jerusalem. Medieval Europe was furrowed by pilgrimage routes (listed in handy tourist guides that mentioned the abbatial churches the way they list motels and Hiltons today) as our skies are furrowed by air routes that make it easier to travel from Rome to New York than Rome to Spoleto." Furthermore, Eco (1986: 79) argues that, "in the Middle Ages a wanderer in the woods at night saw them peopled with maleficient presences; one did not venture beyond the town; men went armed. This condition is close to that of the white middle–class inhabitant of New York, who doesn't set foot in Central Park after five in the afternoon or who makes sure not to get off the subway in Harlem by mistake, nor does he take the subway home alone after midnight (or even before, in the case of women)." Parallels can be drawn even closer to home in Cape Town where the condition is that generally the white middle–class inhabitant of Cape Town generally doesn't set foot in Langa or Gugulethu at any time. One of the aims of the Black River Urban Design Framework Proposal is to bring about a change in this unfortunate situation.

A possible way of addressing the problems of Cape Town's urban sprawl and 'increasing eccentric metropolitan location' would be by re–thinking the movement infrastructure. Strategic interventions here could create wide–reaching effects. As Crane (1964: 89) argues, "because people and enterprises combine and recombine in relation to available and needed communications, a communication change can bring about entirely new inventions of space and cause substantial city–wide redistribution of activity. We can no longer rely on planning the whole macrocosm of the city on the basis of discrete microcosms – for example, office building, theatre, or shopping centre. By the same token, the public authority might come closer to affecting the whole by encouraging the evolution of selected parts".

So in connecting the Athlone Power Station site with the Culemborg site via a ferry system and then also connecting the Culemborg site with the Waterfront, suddenly the Athlone Power Station site is connected and accessible in a very real way to the wealth flowing into the Waterfront area. This helps lever a crack open into the marginalized Southeastern part of the city and integrate it into the city. This is shown diagramatically on drawing panel no. 10, Diag 2 – Proposed Intervention (click on tab for Panels 7-10 at top of this page to navigate to this drawing panel). It also provides a much needed public transport system from the Southeastern part of the city. Thus helping to take the pressure off the overloaded road system. This would also take some of the pressure off the commuter rail system from the Southeast. Especially as the MSDF Review draft dated 2003 shows that the majority of the commuter rail trips from the Southeast terminate around, or before, Culemborg. As well as accommodating the local residents of the Southeastern part of the city, via a complementary bus and taxi system, secure parking can be provided for motorists at key points in the system. These motorists can then leave their cars there and journey on to the city centre via the ferry and underground. These locations of transport modal interchange then also create points of opportunity in the city for the emergence of vibrant public places. In addition the provide points of economic opportunity which can interlink flows of the cities wealth with the poor.

Referring to the implementation of water taxis, admittedly in Washington, Pearlstein (2007) argues that, "here's an idea that could boost the tourist industry, alleviate traffic, encourage smart growth and open neglected urban areas for development while helping to unify an often fractured region." Furthermore, Pealstein (2007) argues that, "other metropolitan areas have more experience and success integrating water transport into daily life. Think of New York, London, Paris, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Sydney and Vancouver, to name a few. Their networks of ferries and water taxis not only provide pleasant and convenient alternatives to cars, busses and subways, but like highway exits and train stations, act as magnets for development or recreation. They have helped to reorient life in cities that had turned their backs on waterfront areas and allowed them to decay."

The Black River Figure 14: The Black River, photograph by author in 2007.

A sorely needed further aspect of Cape Town's infrastructure is the creation of opportunity for vibrant public spaces. Consqequently this rethinking of the movement infrastructure provides fertile conditions for the structuring of these opportunities to occur. As Mumford (1961: 648) argues, "the wider the area of communication and the greater the number of participants, the more the need there is for providing numereous accessible permanent centres for face–to–face intercourse and frequent meetings at every human level." Also, Mumford (1961: 648) argues that this acknowledges "the recovery of the essential activities and values that were incorporated in the ancient cities, above all those of Greece, (and) is accordingly a primary condition for the further development of the city in our time". Furthermore Mumford (1961: 652–653) argues that "we must now conceive the city, accordingly, not primarily as a place of business or government, but as an essential organ for expressing the new human personality – that of 'One World man'". As Crane (1964:87) argues "with this broadening of the Athenian ideal, we may then be on the road toward building a culture appropriate to the heterogeneous of our time".

The opportunities created by rethinking the movement infrastructure should be used by city builders so as to inform where strategic insertions of investment can be made. Likewise, Giurgola (1965: 108) explains that for city building of the past, "patrons or leaders encouraged the rapid construction of only essential parts of the city: squares, harbours, acropolises, and the like were created as pivots to the subsequent distribution of operative and residential areas. These last grew voluntarily confused, … retaining the secret of their private life (and) were highly habitable." Consequently, Giurgola, (1965: 109) argues that, in urban design the organizing principles, must be hidden in an apparently spontaneous growth – "a complexity of partial visions is sought."

So the strategic investments would, in the words of Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 47), "inform the emergence of a public investment framework". As Dewar and Kiepiel (2004:47) argue "elements of the public framework include public space, movement, public or community facilities, utilities, emergency services, and where appropriate, economic infrastructure for embryonic economic activity". The process would need to then monitor the public response. Investment should then be used as a catalyst to activate public acts, thereby creating benefits far in excess of the initial investment cost. Consequently Crane (1964: 90) argues that "the new dimensions of urban growth and deterioration surpass the limited building powers of government. Government must multiply its city–building influence with strategic distributions of public acts calculated to induce a suitable match between facilities and human contents, between blight and private energy".

However there are forces that mitigate against these processes. Specifically Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 46) point out that

"in settlement terms, two primary forms of growth and change aredominant. In places of relatively high amenity, growth is commonly private sector led. Places of high amenity are targeted by developers for developments aimed at an upper income targeted market (… lifestyle–marketed developments …)"

Moreover Eco (1986: 76), in drawing similarities between our modern times and the Middle Ages, draws attention to an Italian geographer, Giuseppe Sacco. Interestingly, on the medievalization of the city, Eco (1986: 76) then notes that "a series of minorities, rejecting integration, form clans, and each clan picks a neighbourhood that becomes its own centre, often inaccessible … (Today) the clan spirit dominates also the well–to–do classes, who pursuing the myth of nature, withdraw from the city to the garden suburbs with their own shopping malls, bringing other types of microsocieties into existence."

Continuing with this subject Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 46) argue that,

"The problem with the pattern is that, while the effect of any one project individually may not be great, the collective uncoordinated proliferation of them undermines the qualities that defined the amenity of the area in the first place.

The second common form of process is informal. The nature of change in settlement patterns is complex and subtle and involves the explosion of the 'mega–village': the processes are driven by households (as opposed to any directive top–down actions), acting in their own perceived (but often short–term) self interest …

In the face of these dynamics, the authorities charged with the management of these areas are at a loss as to what to do. … This is not a 'problem' that is going to disappear in the short to medium term … the most common response is simply reactive, particularly in terms of public investment. However this response frequently creates a whole variety of problems. These include:

  • Extensive ecological damage …
  • The piecemeal erosion of the qualities that made the area desirable in the first places
  • Reduced chances for households …
  • The settlement pattern is frequently highly inefficient in terms of the public provision of utility services and investments in social infrastructure … – these areas effectively become bottomless pits, in that they can absorb large amounts of investment, without discernable improvements in the quality either of the environment or of life
  • As a result of the scattered pattern of development, efficient viable public transportation, which is critical to increasing choices, never takes root …
  • The interests of the poorest, most marginalized households that are frequently dependent on survivalist activities, are overrun by more powerful, competitive social units …
  • Perhaps the most important of all, longer–term options are irrevocably removed".

So without an underlying integrated regional framework actors in the metropolitan context are trapped with limited options. Thus, Shane (2005: 80) argues that, in the context of an expanding city, all actors must choose either the old centre or the new edge–city. Although Shane (2005: 80) then argues that ultimately there is the possibility of "a city where the old city center is just one of many centers making up the Tele Citta." Here Shane (2005: 102) argues urbanism and mobility converge and further disperse the city. This ties back to ideas of Mumford's invisible city. Accordingly arguments presented by Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 46 & 47) for a "straightforward, access–driven approach" are critical.

Furthermore Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 47) argue that "a–spatial dimensions of choice and access, which are frequently threatened or destroyed by the urbanization process, … need to be addressed consciously in the process of plan formulation". Further Dewar and Kiepiel (2004: 47) argue that "the concept of sustainability must be central to the processes of plan formation. This concept needs to be explored from both a natural environmental as well as a humanist perspective. From a humanist perspective, the central issue is maximizing choices and opportunitities for people. Choice relates essentially to lifestyle and livelihood".

So, rather than concentrating resources in a primary area which then leads to polarization, the focus should be spread so that a greater, more diffuse networked city is developed, thus creating a city fabric of many compact centres. No one of these centres retain dominance, but rather each has its own attributes and special qualities, functioning as part of a greater organism. (See drawing panel no. 10 – Long Term Vision.) This takes the pressure off a centralized focal point, which ultimately creates huge inequalities in land values and resources. Another effect of a centralized focal point is to ensure that the poor are trapped in poverty as they use large amounts of their scarce resources on transport from place of residence to work and then back again. Rather a broader networked city which celebrates diversity and vibrancy is proposed, a city which creates economic opportunity over its entire area, a city which respects the natural environment and sensitively combines it with economic opportunity to create a strong sense of place in all areas. This is a city that seeks to unearth deep cultural structures, which help bind the fragments into an instantly recognizable cohesive region of holistic opposites.

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The proposal identifies three main sites of strategic intervention in the city: the Culemborg interchange, the Athlone Power Station site and the Black River Urban precinct, primarily consisting of the Valkenberg Hospital and the Alexandra Institute. (See drawing panel no. 16.)

By developing the Athlone Power station site, the project aims to generate economic opportunities to its surrounding areas, particularly Langa, thereby setting up conditions for economic opportunity to develop outside the traditional city centre and close to previously marginalized dormitory suburbs. In order to activate this, the development of the Culemborg interchange is of vital importance. This is to attract capital to flow into the Black River urban development system. A green parkway is also envisioned along the Liesbeek River, which would be integrated with suburbs like Observatory and Mowbray. This would connect them to the seafront through the Culemborg site. A similar connecting greenway along the Black River is envisioned to connect areas like Maitland with the Culemborg interchange and beyond to the sea front.

The character of the Culemborg interchange and Athlone Power Station sites is predominantly industrial. Along with these two sites, the Black River is incorporated in the study as a connecting element that runs between them. Interestingly, Rennie and Scurr (2001: 40) argue that, there were at one time at least ten tower–mills that "stood along the Liesbeek and Black River valleys and the estuary of the Salt River." However the more recent historical character of the Black River Urban Park precincts is primarily institutional.

Niewe Molen Figure 15: Niewe Molen, Black River Urban precinct, photograph by author in 2007.

To the north the Black River becomes the Salt River, downstream from where the Liesbeek River runs into it, down to the river mouth. To the south the main river is known as the Vygekraal, upstream from where the Black River Canal joins it. For the purposes of this discussion, however, the main river, which flows along the stretch from the Athlone waste water works to the river mouth in Table Bay at Paarden Eiland, will be referred to as the Black River. For the most part the city turns its back on the strip of land that runs along the Black River. Thus this neglected area presents itself as a residual city space through which a polluted river runs. (See Figure 14.) The neglect of river banks as a positive urban resource is not only a South African phenomenon. For instance Breen and Rigby (1994: 9) argue that "there are a hundred squalid, pointless turnings–away from the American rivers … (and that) American river banks … form the biggest single waste of opportunity in the whole environment." Accordingly the Black River forms a crucial element of the proposal.

Residual city spaces, as described above, are often found at points where the city regional and metropolitan scale collide with the local scale. Thus these spaces hold the potential for interesting connections and juxtapositions that cut across city scales. Accordingly Venturi (1977: 68) makes the point that "some city planners, … are now more prone to question the glibness of orthodox zoning and to allow violent proximities in their planning."

The proposal's viability of the development of the Black River so as to support a ferry system needs to be investigated. In exploring this, a discussion was held with Joe Dressner from Prestege, Retief, Wunberg Consulting Engineers. These are the engineers responsible for the engineering work done in creating the now existing canal designed to ferry water taxis between the Cape Town International Conference Centre (CTICC) and the V & A Waterfront. A record of the main points of this discussion is as follows:

Telcom Joe Dressner of Prestege, Retief, Wunberg Consulting Engineers. 30 July '07 (Consulting Engineers for Roggebaai canal system).

  • Maintain canal water level 3 meters above sea level;
  • Try to avoid canal level changes that require locks as these delay passengers (10 minute delay);
  • Therefore try to locate map of original shoreline and follow this contour;
  • 2 metre headroom required under bridges;
  • Although the water taxis draw only 1 metre the Roggebaai canal is 1,5 metres deep. This is due to the visual impact. It would not be desirable to see coke cans and other litter on the canal bed. Sunlight penetration should not reach the river bed as this raises the temperature of the water and exacerbates marine growth both in the river and on the river bed;
  • Pump for Roggebaai system draws water from Duncan Dock – max. of 5 days and all the water is thru' the system.

For the Black River Navigation to be Feasible

Three major actions need to be undertaken.

  1. Hydraulic control to maintain river levels during tides needs to be implemented. This would most likely be actioned by a weir or lock system positioned near the river mouth;
  2. The sediment load needs to be managed. This however should most likely not present a problem due to the flushing effects of urban runoff;
  3. The water quality of the Black River needs to be improved. Actions to achieve this include:
  • Clean–up operations to improve the river bed condition;
  • Improvement of informal runoff, stormwater and flooding.

Only once these items have been attended to will the Black River navigation become feasible.

Concerning the river's water quality, a conversation with Mike Luger of Ninham Shand (River ecology masters graduate) was held. The main points of this discussion are recorded as follows:

  • Must decide on what use water quality will be aimed for. See Department of Forestry and Water Affairs (DWAF) website to find reports identifying water standards for various uses;
  • Only concern is pathogens, bacteria. To combat one can chlorinate, ozonate or use ultra–violet;
  • To improve bacteriological status is very tricky. At the sewage works can achieve good sterilization from the Borchards Quarry and Athlone water treatment works. However the storm water run–off is problematic;
  • An important principle is that everything should be dealt with at source. Consequently a water clean–up education programme would be vital.

In addition to the points raised by the above discussion is the problem of Water Hyacinth. As Practical Action (2007:1) explains, "Water hyacinth is an aquatic plant which can live and reproduce floating freely on the surface of fresh waters or can can be anchored in the mud … The plant originated in the Amazon Basin and was introduced into many parts of the world as an ornamental garden pond plant … It is particularly suited to tropical and subtropical climates and has become a problem in … Southern Africa." In fact, Practical Action (2007: 2) argues that, "in the last 10 years the rapid spread of the plant in many parts of Africa has led to great concern." For example, Practical Action (2007: 2) argues that common problems include, "hindrance to water transport …; clogging of intakes of irrigation, hydropower and water supply systems …; and reduction of biodiversity."

Accordingly the control of water hyacinth is vital. In fact, Hill (2007: 2) argues that, "traditionally the control of water weeds has fallen into one of three broad categories: mechanical control, herbicide control and biological control. More recently the emphasis has moved to an integration of the three methods." However, Hill (2007:2) argues that, "while mechanical and herbicide control are viewed as the short–term or immediate control options, biological control is viewed as the long–term or sustainable option for aquatic weeds. Furthermore, Hil (2007: 2) points out that biological control has been used against the aquatic weeds in South Africa's waterways with considerable success.

However, the clearing of water hyacinth is not without its added benefits. One of these is the creation of a craft industry. For instance, the Working for Water programme (2007: 1) points out that they have

"embarked on a programme to contribute to the sustainable management and control of invasive species, and to add value to the clearing operations. A programme promoting the utilization of biomass from clearing operations was researched since 1998, first at a very limited scale but since 2002 the programme was expanded substantially.

The value added industries programme has three primary objectives;

  • maximising the positive economic benefits of the WfW programme, by creating extra jobs through the harvesting and processing of plant material;
  • reducing the net cost of clearing, thereby contributing to the sustainability of the WfW programme;
  • minimising potential negative environmental impacts, such as fire damage, by leaving less biomass behind after clearing."

Furthermore, Working for Water programme (2007: 2) argues that, "the utilization of biomass is expected to create an additional benefit stream for WfW, and concurrently create the opporunity for economic empowerment of historically disadvantaged individuals. This will be achieved through the development of down–stream industries, which will operate either independently, or as partnerships between the public and private sectors."

The WfW brochure shows that the value–added industries products include:

  • "screens and blinds
  • decor items for interior/ lifestyle shops
  • bathroom accessories
  • lights and lamps
  • indoor and outdoor furniture
  • fencing, arches and other garden furnishings
  • wooden educational toys
  • firewood, charcoal and woodchips."

It is important to note that the Working for Water programme is not the only programme to have initiated such a craft industry. For example the internet site www.water–hyacinth.com shows a wide range of hyacinth crafts produced from Water Hyacinth harvesting in Lake Victoria, Kenya.

It is also argued that by implementing a system of water taxis, public awareness of river ecology and environmental concerns can be raised, resulting in positive effects for the river environment. For example, in Jakarta the implementation of water taxis has raised awareness of caring for the river system. Interestingly, Langit–Dursin (2007) points out that "there is no profit in operating the water taxis … (but) the gains lie elsewhere." For example, Langit–Dursin (2007) draws attention to Muhammad Khair, officer on duty at Halimun Pier, who argues that "the purpose of the water taxis is to get Indonesians to stop their habit of throwing garbage into the rivers. It is also to raise public awareness on the threats from polluted rivers." Then Langit–Dursin (2007) mentions Donny Azdan, director at the water resources and irrigation directorate of the National Development Planning Agency, who points out that "the operation of the water taxis is an entertaining way of educating the public on the importance of keeping the rivers clean."

From these discussions the assumption is made that the Black River can be made navigable. This ferry system would then support and be juxtapositioned against regional and local transport systems, areas of opportunity being created at these points of juxtaposition. The ferry system would connect the Culemborg interchange to the Athlone Power Station site, servicing the Black River Urban Precinct en route. The national road, the N2, runs past the Athlone Power Station site and the other main national road into Cape Town, the N1, runs through the Culemborg interchange. The ferry system will thus form a 'bridge' linking between these two regional connectors and the historic city centre. Furthermore, the ferry system would provide improved access to major metropolitan institutions.

An internet search located the website watertaxi.com which confirms comments by Joe Dressner that a draught of 1 metre is needed for the water taxis. Furthermore www.watertaxi.com, commercial, shows a number of water taxis that would appear to be suitable. The aesthetics of these water taxis could obviously be modified, along with any special requirements. However, based on the information available at www.watertaxi.com it is suggested that four water taxis are employed to operate the proposed ferry system. Based on the information available at watertaxi.com, that a water taxi travels at 15 knots a complete trip – one way, between the Culemborg Interchange and the Athlone Power Station – would take 28 minutes. The estimated trip length is 6,4 km. This would allow for 6 stops along the way, at 2 min. per stop and a 10 minute wait maximum at the start of the journey. These figure's are very rough and are merely intended to give a rough idea of the carrying capacity and convenience factor of the ferry. Still, based on these figures, there would be a water taxi leaving every 15 minutes. Then if each water taxi has a carrying capacity, as shown by watertaxi.com, of 49 passengers, this system would transfer 196 passengers/hour one way. Alternatively, if the water busses are used, which show a carrying capacity of 72 passengers, then 228 passengers/hour one way, can be transported. Or put another way, 576 passengers/hour per round trip.

Once the water water quality of the Black River has been improved and the river made navigable, areas adjacent to the river benefit enormously. However floodplains and wetlands would have to be treated great respect so as to ensure that sensitive ecological systems are maintained. This is not only vital from an ecological perspective, but also in maintaining a 'sense of place', important for tourism, land values and the general psychological benefit to all the local inhabitants. By travelling in the city via water taxi through the wetlands an appreciation for its natural resources can be greatly enhanced. Spontaneous viewing of birdlife against a backdrop of Table Mountain lit by the morning sun could provide a very tranquil start to a hectic work day. A tranquil start possibly complemented by fresh coffee and toast served in the open air onboard, as occurs on some of the Sydney harbour ferry boats travelling into the city from Balmain.

This river system would also contribute to the increased value of riverfront properties. Development of these properties, however, will have to be carefully managed so as not to interfere with ecological systems. Also, great care should be taken to ensure that the immediate riverfront always remains a public facility. Nonetheless, where appropriate, ecologically sensitive property developments should be encouraged. These can take advantage of their close proximity to the river system. Capital generated from these developments can then be used to further fund the Black River Urban Design Framework Proposal. Where possible, this should also support a mixed–income residential component as a means to further facilitate integration in the city.

The proposed Black River transport system also provides a great opportunity for the development of a spinal framework which supports access to major public facilities: for example, Groote Schuur Hospital, Red Cross Children's Hospital and the proposed university campus precinct. Further the Black River transport system allows for the placement of future easily accessible facilities. This is particularly important for people living in the marginalized Southeastern areas of the city, where transport costs eat into a large portion of their budget. Furthermore with the development of the Black River as a positive urban element and the use of it as a public transport system, fertile conditions are created for commercial opportunities. Consequently the development of emergent riverfront commercial opportunities needs to be encouraged. (See drawing panel no. 30, Riverfront commercial opportunities activated.) However this development needs to be managed so as not to impact negatively on the natural environment. In addition to this, the river provides opportunity for intensive urban agriculture, as can already be seen happening at the alternative Oude Molen village. (See Figure 16.) With the development of the Black River transport system, and the created emergent riverfront commercial opportunities, this urban agriculture would have ready access to adjacent market opportunities.

Oude Molen village Figure 16: Oude Molen, village, photograph by author in 2007.


The Culemborg interchange forms a key site in the broader city context. This is the point of convergence for most of the cities transport infrastructure. Yet Louw and Dewar (2003) point out, this infrastructure then forms a barrier which separates the city from the sea front.

Therefore Louw and Dewar (2003) propose a major transport interchange at the Culemborg site. From here, a connecting underground rail system continues to the main city centre. This then removes the barrier which the existing rail infrastructure forms between the city and the seafront. However to the west a further strong connecting element between this node and the historic city should be created. This element should, among other things function as a pedestrian promenade and as a connecting element between its adjacent suburbs and the seafront – even if this connection is only a visual connection. To the east this transport interchange node would connect into the larger metropolitan and regional transport network. Thus this would alleviate some of the congestion at Cape Town, freeing the historic city centre to become a more pedestrian environment. At the same time the proposed transport interchange node would provide a natural, easily accessible 'jump off point' to the greater region, thereby activating access to releasing the opportunities of the greater region. As Dewar and Utynbogaardt (undated) point out, "potentially, … the site can play a powerful role in the city, for it can be tied to a number of different city systems of opportunitry." (See Figures 3 to 6). As Louw and Dewar (2003) argue, the pressure can then be taken off the city centre, which can be seen rather as one of many regional city centres. This proposal aims to incorporate and use these ideas. Thus the Culemborg interchange site is seen as playing a pivotal role in the development of the existing city centre precinct and also in contributing to the project proposal for the Black River Urban Design Framework and also the broader regional development.

Furthermore the Culemborg site can be developed in order to attract tourism (and locals) from the existing Waterfront area. The Faneuil Hall development in Boston could perhaps provide some clues as to this development. Also the theme of a mini–Venice, with canals and waterways, is to be investigated, as the area is substantially situated in a floodplain. In addition the industrial nature of the area should be transformed into one of a more mixed–use residential nature. Furthermore access to the seafront needs to be emphasized. Accordingly, Rennie and Scurr (2001: 74) argue that, "every opportunity to utilise the role of the wetland areas should be supported. The objectives should include the re–establishment and enhancement of the coastal linkages with the general residential areas and the curtailing of the physical and visual impact of the haphazard and stark industrial zones. Landscape expertise in particular should be brought to bear on the situation." The seafront presents a very harsh environment and will need careful consideration. A walkway that runs from the existing Green Point promenade through the city to the Culemborg interchange, and then continues on up the West Coast, should at some stage be investigated.

To the north lies Koeberg Road. Interestingly, Rennie and Scurr (2001: 42) argue that, "in the early years of the twentieth century, Koeberg Road, from Maitland, over Kilarney and to the Swartland became known as the 'hard road', in contrast to the sand tracks that ran through the dunes to Bloubergstrand. Koeberg Road was the main route into Cape Town or out to the farms of the Tygerberg, Bellville and De Kuilen."

Now days Koeberg Road is still an important route and has become extremely congested, along with all other roads into Cape Town from the West Coast. Consequently a transport spine is to be developed along Blaauwberg Road, which currently is a major feeder into Koeberg Road, with an aim to alleviating this traffic congestion from Milnerton, Table View, Blouberg and beyond. The aim of this is to divert the bulk of the traffic past Koeberg Road and to connect via a bus, or later a tram line, to the N7. Here a large parking facility would accommodate a park–and–ride system where a bus or train can be taken to the Culemborg interchange and beyond into the old city centre. The rail utilized being the existing rail line which runs up to Atlantis. This facility being one of many of systems of park and ride facilities situated along the N7, N1 and N2. Areas such as this can be identified as key transport modal interchange points. These areas then form strategic points for possible development of infrastructure to support the emergence of future vital public places. (See drawing panel no. 16) The development of these park–and–ride transport modal interchange points would also be used to ensure that the proposed satellite Black River campus would not contribute to more traffic conjestion, as motorists travelling to the campus would be able to leave their cars at either the N1 or N2 transport modal interchange points and then take the water bus to the campus (See Figures 1 & 2). To the north, the seafront connection would form the termination point of a green finger which extends along the Liesbeek River. This green finger is to be enhanced and developed as a public facility with connections to its adjacent suburbs like Observatory, Mowbray, Rosebank and Rondebosch strongly accentuated, thus affording a direct path of seafront access for these areas.

The Culemborg site is also located near the working docks. Cape Town remains a port city, with the working docks playing a vital role in its economy. So, although a certain amount of separation is thus required from the working docks, opportunity also exists to capitalize on its close proximity. In investigating this potential, discussions were held with various people who are in some way connected with the workings of the docks. These discussions are recorded as follows:

Telcom Brian Ingman (shipping correspondant) 6 Sept '07

Passenger Terminal

  • Passenger terminal needed (2010 will be plenty of need).
  • Facility for passengers needed. At the moment passengers must walk across a working wharf.
  • Need multi–functional building to accommodate: passengers, conferences, flats, offices and other. This building would have good views. To be located on E to F berth. A few passenger liners a year bring in millions of rands of revenue to the city, thus justifying such a facility.
  • A link between this proposed multi–functional building and the Cape Town International Conference Centre CTICC could be created via a travellator.
  • The proposed multi–functional building should combine with selected shared uses to accommodate the functionality of the working harbour: for example, the handling of clean cargo, such as fruit (a storage area to keep it out of the sun for the few hours it is on the wharf). Any other clean cargo such as ingots of metal can be accommodated.
  • Proposal for Blue Train to leave from the passenger terminal. If the proposed multi–functional building accommodates uses, such as the handling of clean cargo, then the Blue Train rail line can also function as a freight line.

Container Cargo

  • Nobody foresaw the explosion of container cargo.
  • Container stacking is a problem now.
  • Each container can weigh 28 tons.
  • At present the containers are stacked 2 containers high. However, with better equipment they could be stacked 3 or 4 high.
  • It is a problem when containers are not stacked close to the ship. At present the containers are trucked 1,5 Km to where the client fetches them. So from berth 604 the containers go to the import stack by truck. Consequently the trucks do a round trip of 3 Km per container, multiply by 500 containers and this is the equivalent of a truck journey from Cape Town to Durban in accumulated Km's. One ship can carry one or two thousand containers.
  • To transport the containers by truck to Bellville station and then by rail to the harbour creates problems. This is because it introduces another modal interchange link in the transportation chain. Consequences of this include extra handling costs and time delays; for example, in the transportation of refrigerated fruit this could amount to a delay of one day. So the transport modal switches need to be kept as few as possible.
  • In order to get the containers near the ships in the container basin it has been proposed that the container dock be extended 300 m seaward towards Milnerton. However this proposal, although the best option from the harbour operations point of view, has received condemnation from the green lobby.
  • Consequently another proposal has been put forward. This has been to locate the import stacking facility on the periphery of the harbour. Some buildings would have to be removed at the harbour entrance. The proposed location is between the N1 and the West Coast Road at Paarden Eiland. The West Coast Road would be diverted to join the N1 past Koeberg station. However this option has the problem of locating the container import stacking facility too far away from the dock.
  • Extra entrances are required for the container trucks to enter and exit the import container stacking facility to alleviate current bottlenecks. The harbour was never designed for containerization. At present, trucks bottleneck at a single entry/exit point to the container basin. This causes huge congestion in the public roadways around the harbour, not to mention in the harbour itself.
  • Also, the storage of bulk grain needs an alternative site. At the moment an old shed is used as temporary storage. A flatter grain elevator is needed on an alternative site.
  • The economy of the Western Cape is being adversely affected by the delay caused due to the inability to reach consensus on the container basin problem. Consequently it is of great urgency that a decision is reached.

Ship Repair

  • Ship repair function must stay in the harbour.
  • Yacht club should relocate to Granger Bay. This would take it out of the harbour security area and also the yachts out of the shipping lanes in the harbour.
  • A synchro–lift is needed in Cape Town harbour. This could be accommodated with a dry dock in the area where the yacht club is currently located. The proposed dry dock and synchro–lift would be 3 or 4 times the size of the existing dry dock in the V & A Waterfront, thus allowing the proposed dry dock and synchro–lift to accommodate vessels of 100 m length.
  • The proposed extension to the ship repair facilities would ensure a huge increase in the work flow. For this kind of work there is a big need for unskilled workers to perform cleaning, scrapping, de–rusting, painting, etc. Furthermore there is also a big need for skilled workers such as welders, heavy–current electrical artisans and shipwrights who repair the steel corrosion etc.

From the above discussion it became very apparent that the matter of the redevelopment of the harbour area to ensure the efficient functioning of the container terminal has become a critical issue. Yet this is an area that presents no clear answers as to how this should occur. If the container dock were to be extended 300 m seawards there will be huge negative environmental impacts. (See for example figure 17 below, and shown again on drawing panel no. 15, showing proximity of buildings to coastal erosion.)

Buildings proximity to coastal erosion
Figure 17: Buildings in close proximity to coastal erosion and harbour breakwater. Photographs by author on 2007.

This serious situation would be exacerbated in the extreme if the docks was to be extended seawards. However, if the container import stacking facility is located on the periphery of the harbour it means that the containers will have to be trucked from the container dock to the import stacking facility, thus generating a lot of costly extra trucking activity, and adding to current congestion in the harbour area.

Consequently this project proposesthat a large overhead conveyor system is installed. This can connect directly from the container docks to an import stacking facility, located just outside the harbour area. The overhead conveyor can be planned so as to run on a straight line which would continue for about 1,5 km. This overhead conveyor system could be engineered using technology similar to that employed at the mines, or along the lines of the conveyor system existing at the Port of Saldanha Bay. Furthermore, the import stacking facility can be treated as a secure area. So the containers can be offloaded from the ship by the gantry crane and placed directly onto the overhead conveyor, the overhead conveyor system then transporting the containers directly to the import stacking facility. As an overhead system this would not affect the workings of the harbour, or the area outside the harbour, at ground level. Once in the import stacking facility the containers could be stacked for collection by the straddle carriers. Outlets such as Woolworths and Pick 'n Pay could then collect their containers from the container stacking facility. This would ensure that the container trucks are, to a large degree, kept out of the harbour area. Thus alleviating traffic congestion in the harbour area.

When discussing this idea with container operations managers, it was very positively received. In fact an inter–net search of flickr.com revealed that just such a system is currently in operation at the Maersk container terminal, Pier 400 in the Los Angeles Harbour.

Further discussions regarding the harbour area are recorded as follows:

Telcom Gareth Greyle (employee sea transport company), 7 Sept. '07

Container Cargo

  • Custom clearance and processing necessary for containers.
  • Off–site container depot. Difference is distance from ship to container stacking.
  • Sequence for offloading containers on dock is to off–load container from ship with gantry crane and then move container to stacking position on dock with straddle carrier. That's all.
  • Suggestion for gantry crane to load containers directly onto a secure conveyor carrier to transport containers to an overhead conveyor 1,5 km long to secure off–site container depot where they can be off loaded with a gantry crane is accepted as a workable solution in principle, provided engineering can be solved (possibly based on solutions offered in mining industry?).
  • Huge need for such a solution.

Telcom Flemming Schiodt (retired manager of bulk liquid storage terminal), 7 Sept. '07

Container Cargo

  • Very positive about overhead secure conveyor carrier to move containers to secure off–site container stacking depot as this takes the container trucks out of the harbour area. Concedes that this seems like an unprecedented idea, but that this does not mean that it is without merit. In fact stresses that trucks are a big problem in the harbour, adding to general congestion of the area. Thus taking the container trucks out of the harbour is a very big benefit. Enthuses that this could be a much–needed solution.


  • Bunker oils are fuel oils and diesels for refuelling ships.
  • Cape Town is a vital link between east and west in sea links and a natural route to the Far East and U.S.A., thus providing opportunities for capitalizing on bunkering trade to passing vessels.
  • At present Cape Town's bunkering facilities are all located at shipping berths in the docks. Bunkering is piped to individual berths, often in old rusty pipes. The pipes are apparently so old and rusty that ships sometimes sue the harbour authorities for the mess they create.
  • Existing bunkering pipes to shipping berths mean that ship can bunker up only if they are actually taking up or offloading cargo. Otherwise they would be taking up valuable cargo handling space. So there is generally no room in the port for ships to just bunker up. Consequently ships bunker up in other ports – like Singapore for example. Last year Cape Town lost out on 800 or 900 potential ships to bunker up because of poor port facilities. This represents the loss of a huge economic opportunity for Cape Town. Therefore the Cape Town port facilities need to be streamlined.
  • To capitalize on this opportunity the bunkering facilities need to be extended with a barge service and floating bunker line in the bay. The bunker line would be laid on the ocean floor and just be floating at the point of contact to the barge. This would mean that ships could be bunkered up while still out at bay without even coming into the port.
  • Apparently this method of bunkering up with a floating bunker line and barge is currently being used in Durban and also worldwide. No disasters have apparently occurred. Stringent safety precautions and insurance would however still need to be employed and monitored on an ongoing basis.

At the Southeastern end of the Black River connection lies the Athlone Power Station site. Inspiration for the development of this site has been drawn fro a draft document for discussion produced in 2006 by the City of Cape Town titled 'Planning for Future Cape Town: An argument for the long–term spatial development of Cape Town'. This document imagines that the old Athlone Power station has been transformed into a world–famous art gallery and cultural centre. This follows the argument presented in the document by the city that new special precincts are developed in neglected areas. Also this forms part of the argument presented in this document for precincts along the N2 freeway that encourage motorists to stop, thereby creating pockets of opportunity for the marginalized and povert–stricken Southeastern part of the city.

To sum up, the project aims to better integrate the city, re–connect the east city to its seafront (at least visually and symbolically) and to act as a fundamental pivot in re–directing urban forces to take pressure off the historic city centre and to unlock the potential of a greater regional functioning city. The proposal argues that this can be achieved through three key area of intervention:

  1. The Culemborg interchange site;
  2. The Athlone Power station;
  3. The Black River seam and adjacent precincts.

The next section, River Context, explores the opportunities presented by the Black River precinct in unlocking this potential.

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River Context
At the river context scale, the project proposes re–developing Valkenberg–Alexandra Precinct as a satellite skills development campus of UCT. However, as many as possible of the area's original functions should be retained, thereby providing opportunity for integration in both the physical and social contexts. This re–development of Valkenberg–Alexandra Precinct leads to specific site studies. These site studies propose some concrete first actions which can be taken in activating this re–development of Valkenberg–Alexandra Precinct.

At present, the Black River acts as a barrier in the urban landscape. This barrier is further reinforced by the Black River Parkway (M5), ensuring a fundamentally fragmented urban environment. (See drawing panel no. 21.) This has been a major characteristic of the modern city, with its mono–functional zoning and separate pavilions that are placed in a landscape which is usually designed around the motorcar. Accordingly, Venturi (1977: 16) argues this "advocated the separation and exclusion of elements, rather than the inclusion of various requirements and their juxtapositions." As a result Alexander (1965: 406) argues that this compulsive desire for neatness and order, which can be seen in modern cities, attempts to order themselves around a structure of land use zoning is crippling our cities in its lack of structural complexity.

Black River Parkway M5 Figure 18: Black River Urban Parkway (M5), photograph by author in 2007.

Consequently public spaces are never really formed. As Veregge (1997: 50) argues, this has led to "a decline in public life in recent decades, linked to a parallel decline in both the quality and quantity of public space". Further Veregge (1997: 50) identitifies "privatization of public space, dominance of the automobile over pedestrian movement, replacement of street–level commercial activity by blank facades, and social and land use fragmentation of the city". Also Alexander (1965: 401) notes that our modern, planned cities, which he calls artificial cities, are unsuccessful and seem lacking some essential ingredient. Consequently Alexander (1965: 402) notes that many critics, such as Jane Jacobs, have tried to face this problem and argues that it is vital we get this quality of life back into our artificial cities.

So as well as facilitating integration in the city in the north–east direction, this project argues that the Black River precinct can also facilitate integration in the city in the east–west direction by functioning as a seam rather than as a barrier. This follows arguments presented by Ellin (1999: 5) that "the talents and energies of architects and urban planners should contribute to mending seams, not tearing them asunder, to healing the world, not salting its wounds." Further, Ellin (1999: 6) draws attention to the fact that "in anthropology and cultural studies, the border has become significant as a place (again geographical as well as conceptual) where people engage in defining and re–defining themselves and others." So Ellin (1999: 7) argues that "after centuries of increasingly dividing labour; cataloguing things and knowledge; segregating the landscape according to function as well as social class, age, and ethnicity; objectifying nature and people and fetishizing objects; we are now witnessing concerted efforts to de–alienate by bringing it all back together, albiet in a new way."

Integrated Diagram

Figure 19. Movement structure. Source: Integrated Diagram by Professor Rameshwar 2007, adaptions as Existing & Proposed Diagrams by author 2007

Moreover Breen and Rigby (1994: 10) argue that water has the "most magical of properties … At once calm and dynamic, profoundly symbolic in religion and literature, water evokes powerful emotions in all of us. The lure of water is powerful and universal." Accordingly this magical Black River seam will stitch areas located to the west of the river, namely Sybrand Park, Mowbray, Observatory, Woodstock and Paarden Eiland, together with areas located to the east, namely Rugby, Brooklyn, Maitland, Ndabeni and Pinelands. Likewise, Pearlstein (2007) of the Washington Post argues that the rivers of Washington, "for too long … have been dividers – borders, things to get over. We need to turn them into connectors." In addition, Venturi (1977: 100) describes what he calls "the dominant binder … (For example) at a scale of the town in the Medieval period it is the wall or castle which is the dominant element. In the Baroque it is the axis of the street against which minor diversities play." In the context of this proposal, it is the Black River that should be seen as the dominant binder.

Oude Molen Village Black River Figure 20: Black River viewed from Oude Molen Village, photograph by author in 2007.

For the Black River precinct to act as a seam, both spatially and socially, spaces need to be provided which create opportunities for vibrancy to occur. Howver this vibrancy cannoy be designed; only the opportunities for it to occur, can be designed.Vibrancy has to occur spontaneously from the bottom up. So a vital ingredient in this is the complexity and diversity og human interrelationships. Consequently the city should provide the opportunity for this to occur and not artificially restrict human interactions. In this regard Alexander (1965: 405 & 406) talks of the richness of overlap, unpredictability and the complex subtle structure which he refers to as the semi–lattice. The development of the semi–lattice can be physically seen in the emergent couplings which Salingaros (2000) discusses, of urban sub–elements combining to form higher order urban elements. Salingaros (2000: 292) puts forward the idea that, "in living cities, every urban element is formed by the combination of sub–elements defined on a hierarchy of different scales. Complementary elements of roughly the same size couple strongly to become an element of the next higher order in size (Salingaros, 1995). In addition, Salingaros, (2000:292) argues that, "long–term stability depends upon allowing for emergent connections." Here Salingaros, (2000:309) in discussing the evolution of a complex system over time argues that, "the sequence leading to coherence was identified as being small to large … (The reason is that) once properly established, the large scale is much more difficult to change because it includes so much substructure. (Habraken, 1998)" So emergent couplings can be very simple. For example Salingaros (2000: 297) argues that "a piece of footpath and a wall will couple if they reinforce each other. Each of them in isolation is weaker than when they are juxtaposed." Further examples Salingaros (2000: 297) points out are "a parking place with a piece of pedestrian canopy; a wall with a tree; …; an entry–way with an arcade … ; and so on." Furthermore, Salingaros, (2000: 295) argues that, "coupling also connects two points that are linked by function (Salingaros, 1998)." The aim, Salingaros, (2000: 296) argues, "is to unify different elements into a higher–level module that acquires its own properties."

Important areas of couplings are in the transitional zones. These are the areas that define cities. Very importantly Salingaros (2000: 302) argues that "edges and interfaces are complex fractual lines that make up a living city; they define spaces and built structures and not the other way round." For example, Salingaros, (2000: 303) mentions, "an arcade as a transition between shopfronts and a street or plaza." Furthermore Salingaros (2000: 307) argues that "connective interfaces, such as boundaries, physical connections, transitional regions and geometrical edges that harbour fundamental human activities, are essential to creating urban coherence." In addition, Heut (1984) argues that, "strict boundaries between public and private space is also a guarantee of the flexibility of the urban fabric in that it limits and simplifies the interplay between different public and private operations."

Connectivity Interface at Bree Street Cape Town Figure 21: Connective Interface, Bree Street, Cape Town. Photograph by author in 2007.
Connective Interface. Wynberg Figure 22: Connective Interface, Wynberg, Cape Town. Photograph by author in 2007.
Connective Interface Wynberg Figure 23: Connective Interface, Wynberg, Cape Town. Photograph by author in 2007.

Also Salingaros, (2000: 301 & 302) argues that, in a functionally integrated urban system (apparently made up of parts), the whole is "not reducible to parts and their interaction. Instead, it is called 'nearly decomposable', because if it were completely decomposable, each subsystem would behave in a totally independent manner. The whole system would then lose its complexity." Very importantly, Salingaros, (2000: 302) argues that, a decomposition of the city should therefore be considered in terms of basic coupling rather than isolated buildings.

In addition, as Giurgola explains, in a coherent city a 'complexity of partial visions' contains an underlying structure as a principle organization of spaces. Furthermore, Habraken, (1982: 66) argues that, "once the principal organization of spaces is understood and has been established in a specific case, endless modifications can be made within it." For example, Habraken, (1982: 68), describes two fundamental approaches to dwellings, the terrace house and the courtyard house. "These two … systems form the foundations for all further elaborations and transformations." Consequently, Habraken, (1982: 70) argues that, the deep structures which evolve and develop as collective property are what interests us.

As an explanation, Habraken, (1982: 78) argues that when we recognize continuity in the juxtaposition of distinct variants of the same system (of say similar types of houses), these continuities suggest larger wholes than the single variants. They develop a kind of infrastructure, so "elements that first belonged to the level of the house variant now become part of that higher level in which the home can find itself." For instance, Habraken, (1982: 78) draws attention to Bologna where the portico, no invention of the Bolognese, has been applied so consistently over such a long period that all of the porticoes virtually constitute an autonomous infrastructure throughout the town. Consequently, Habraken, (1982: 78) argues that, "this cannot have been a purely implicit, informal occurrence. Some regulations must have been laid down at a certain point" (the first indication of transition of a feature from the implicit to the explicit). Logically, Habraken, (1982: 76) notes that it was especially in phases of rapid expansion that these implicit systems became more explicit.

Then, Habraken (1982: 78) argues, once Bologna porticos formed a continuous infrastructure, the ultimate step was finally taken in building an autonomous structure. Outside the Renaissance city gates where the architect Dotti designed a mile of portico along the road from Florence, to the hill of the Church of Santa Ursala. Thus constructing the portico without the city, initially to accommodate the pilgrims. In time, however, the supporting urban frabric followed. Thus, Habraken (1982: 78) argues, demonstrating the emergence from the collective unconscious. So, "what began as a repetitive element, always part of individual variants, becomes then recognized … as an urban pattern to be legally enforced …, and finally, it is built as an independent infrastructure." This was a transformation from the implicit to the monumental which occurred over centuries. So Venturi (1977: 38) argues that "conventional elements in architecture represent one stage in an evolutionary development, and then contain in their changed use and expression some of their past meaning as well as their new meaning. What can be called the vestigal element parallels the double–functioning element … This is the result of a more or less ambiguous combination of the old meaning, called up by associations, with a new meaning created by the modified or new function, structural or programmatic, and the new context." For example Venturi (1977: 38 & 40) points out that "the paths of medieval fortification in European cities became boulevards in the nineteenth century."

The form of vernacular here is to be found in the 'deep structures' Habraken (1982) discusses. These are structures of collective understanding, which can take centuries to develop. These are the structures which, as Habraken (1982: 72) argues, enabled the famous extension of Amsterdam in the 17th–century to occur with a plan that could be represented by little more than a doodle, simply because the citizens of 17–century Amsterdam understood the pattern of 'streets' so clearly. Or as Habraken (1982: 78) mentions, which the architect Dotti recognized when he utilized the portico as an urban element when he planned the pilgrim's trail.

Consequently the skill is in recognizing these 'deep structures' and their elements, which can then be taken to another level as urban elements. Then operating, Shane, (2005: 132) argues, as "potentially interdeterminable set–pieces". These urban design elements, derived from the vernacular, then form the structure around which the city can spontaneously develop. The use of vernacular here is therefore a liberating device, rather than a constraining device. However finding these deep structures is not easy and straightforward, particularly in our eclectic modern society, with its vast communications networks, which Crane (1960-2: 282) argues, breed a culture of half truths where superficial forms are borrowed on a whim.

The dynamics associated with the complexities of the semi–lattice occur in many arenas of public life. For instance Illich (1970: 109) argues that in education the 'opportunity web' designates specific ways to provide access to various resources. For example, Illich (1970: 111) argues "technology is available to develop either independence and learning or bureacracy and teaching".

The hidden networks discussed by Alexander (1965) as the semi–lattice, Mumford (1961: 642) conceptualized as the invisible city. These networks of the hidden city, primarily structured by economic activity, provide a vast web of opportunity. Opportunities which can be accessed by learning institutiions. Consequently it is argued that the Valkenberg and Alexandra Institutes for the mentally disabled are re–developed to accommodate a satellite campus of the University of Cape Town (UCT) which can capitalize on this and add life to the area.

However this does not mean that the current function of the area is to be discarded. Rather it will be adapted to the proposed new circumstances. By creating networks, overlaps and links with outside society it is envisioned that this will have a beneficial effect on the healing potential of the environment for the mentally disabled. In fact, Erikson (cited in Foudraine 1974: 317) argues, "there is more emphasis … on re–education, on development and training (the therapeutic community), with its roots in outside society rather than in the hospital with its specialized medical culture." Furthermore Foudraine (1974: 379) points out that Szasz "regards the whole 'mental hygiene movement', … as an attempt to suppress the autonomy of the individual." Then Foudraine (1974: 384) draws attention to arguments that "the behaviour of people living as 'chronic schizophrenics' in a psychiatric institution is exceptionally intelligent, very rational and extremely purposive. The purpose is … to stay there. They behave not 'crazy' enough to land in the closed ward – and just sufficiently enough (disturbed conduct) not to be discharged. One has only to enter certain mental hospitals (beautiful lawns, humane care and attention, workshops, beauty parlor and swimming pool on the grounds) to realize what tremendous security and safety they offer, which many people will not give up easily. The result is overcrowding."

Consequently Foudraine (1974: 391) argues that "the mental hospital in its present form is qua organizational form, rapidly becoming a historical anachronism." Then Foudraine (1974: 391) draws attention to Goffman who argues that "the price that the patient has had to pay for this service has been considerable: dislocation from civil life, alienation from loved ones who arrange the commitment, mortification due to hospital regimentation and surveillance, permanent post–hospital stigmatization." Therefore Foudraine (1974: 396) draws attention to arguments for "the idea of a therapeutic institutiuon called a 'community mental health centre … The principle at work here is still that of 'community containment'. The client remains in his job and his own living quarters and is not subjected to the process of prolonged separation from the source community in which he lives or works – however unlivable that situation may be itself." Thus Foudraine (1974: 397) argues to aim for "obviating the need to consign people to mental hospitals as they exist at the present time: an institution that can offer to accommodate people in crisis, when presented by social psychiatric services and other bodies, by day or night – but on a short–term basis." Importantly Foudraine (1974: 398) argues that an important feature of this new kind of institution "is that it is located in the community … (Also) The center will be imbued with an ideology which must not be a 'medical' one, but rather educational."

Furthermore Foudraine (1974: 401) argues that "the idea is a form of organization, an institution that is not allowed to 'institutionalize' clients. Of course, there is something illogical about that, for it will sometimes be necessary to admit people into this institution. (But) the extent to which we are able to avoid the danger of 'institutionalizing', of becoming a closed community, will depend on the way we set about things."

The arguments expressed by Foudraine (1974) may not be so unrealistic as they first appear. For a community that sets the precedent for such arguments already exists. Geel is a Belgian town, which Blank (1970) points out, is such a place. Blank (1970: 58) notes that Geel "is a special haven where some, 1 750 mentally ill patients live as members of local families and lead relatively normal lives. Children attend ether ordinary or remedial school … Women help with the housework and take care of children. Men work in the fields and shops … (and) … most patients cannot be readily distinguished from normal residents." Yet Blank (1970: 58) argues that "but for Geel, these people would be confined to mental hospitals – perhaps for life.

As the director of the mental hospital and the home–care programme, Dr. Matheussen (cited in Blank 1970: 59) argues, "the patient becomes part of the community, just one of the family. Geel gives a patient social acceptance – something no doctor or hospital can provide." Furthermore, Blank (1970: 59) notes that "one out of six homes in Geel includes a patient; some families care for two."

Colony psychiatrist Dr. Jan Schijvers (cited in Blank 1970: 60) observes that, "in the relaxed, unstructured society of Geel, patients become less fixed in their illness. They have more elbow room, both emotionally and physically. They are influenced by normality and their behaviour changes." Yet Blank (1970: 60) notes that instances where patients are well enough to return to their natural families can raise the fears of patients and request from them to remain in their foster homes. However, Blank (1970: 61) points out that "the Colony discourages this, not wanting Geel to become a town of ex–patients."

Consequently Dr. Schrijvers argues (cited in Blank 1970: 62) that the "biggest problem is not whether the Geel life is effective therapy or whether suitable families can be found for patients; it is preparing people for success. When we conclude that the patient is well enough to return to his former environment, both the family and patient frequently resist the idea. It's difficult to break the bond of attachment and affection built up over the years." However Blank (1970: 62) notes that "after a patient has left Geel to face the world outside Geel, his foster family usually takes another person in need of help." As the Chaplin at the colony Father Jules Vermeulen (cited in Blank 1970: 62) explains, "it's the tradition. Because of what they do, the people of Geel live better lives." Also, Blank (1970: 62) argues, "so do the patients."

Interestingly, an organization with similar ideals already exists in Cape Town. This is the Oasis Association, whose offices are located at the corner of Lee and Lansdowne Roads, Claremont. A brief explanation of this association is given in their information pamphlet as follows"

"Oasis Association was started 55 years ago by a group of concerned parents seeking to find a solution to the problem of their children being excluded from society. So they started a school for their intellectually disabled children and called it Oasis. Intellectual disability affects approximately 3% of all people. The degree to which people are disabled is referred to as either mild, moderate, severe or profound. But only four in 1000 people are affected to the degree that they need constant care and supervision.

Our mission is to enable intellectually disabled people to realise their fullest potential and become as independent and productive as possible. So our core business is providing holistic service for over 450 disabled men, women and children who have been sidelined by, and excluded from, mainstream society. These services are as follows:


Oasis Association offers four non–institutional homes for adults in need of secure accommodation.

Day Centres

We have two day centres which are based in Delft and Ravensmead. These centres cater for profoundly disabled children through development programmes, physiotherapy and social work services, nourishing balanced meals and food parcels where necessary, specially adapted daily transport and primary health care.


We have two workshops in Elsies River and Claremont, which collectively employ 350 disabled workers. These workshops not only provide the workers with a protected place of employment, continued education and training, occupational therapy and transport, but many of the workers are also their family's primary breadwinner.

The workshops also give Oasis Association the means of becoming less reliant on donor funding through building our own sustainable income ie our book and bric–a–brac shop; the recently launched bakery; and the two recycling depots."

The existing Valkenberg and Alexandria precincts function in accommodating mental health institutions. Thus it is argued they provide interesting, appropriate, locations for both the sitting of a university campus and as sites of strategic intervention in improving the city's functioning. As these locations already house large state–controlled institutions it is argued that, if there was the political will, their function could easily be adapted to accommodate the re–developed and expanded proposals. Furthermore these institutions provide interesting examples of heterotopias as described by Shane (2005). For instance, Shane (2005: 232) argues that, heterotopias "create an exceptional space, a miniature city or subcity that forms an important part of the larger city. These places … provide shifting sites of reflection and distance within the system that increases the city's capacity to change or adapt over time. (So) these places of exclusion are essential to the consistent and logical organization of human settlements within a defined order." Examples of heterotophias which Shane (2005: 232) lists "vary from … boarded–up houses of plaugue victims to prisons or factories … to media–dependent megamalis or theme parks." In further explaining heterotophias, Shane (2005: 232) points out that, "Foucault borrows the term heterotophia from medicine, where it means a cell (or group of cells) living nonmalignantly within a host cell of tissue."

The importance of heterotpias in providing refuges of 'otherness' and reflection in the city system is explained by Ellin (1999: 222). To illustrate Ellin (1999: 222) argues that,

"these posit spaces (literal of figurative) in which 'otherness' can flourish. The novelist Italo Calvino expressed this reflex saying: 'The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape from suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space'."

So up till now in our recent history the Valkenberg–Alexandra precinct has operated as a typical heterotophia in that it is located in the midst of Cape Town, but in a sense it has not really been a part of it. A true refuge of 'otherness' and reflection within the city system.

However the proposed satellite campus would be more than an exclusively heterotopic university campus and most certainly not a closed monastic scholarly institution. For instance Eco (1986: 83) argues that, "nothing more closely resembles a monastery (lost in the countryside, walled, flanked by alien, barbarian hordes, inhabited by monks who have nothing to do with the world and devote themselves to their private researches) than an American university campus." Rather it should form an integrated part of everyday life and by so doing provide very useful civic functions. In addition to the above the satellite campus should also function as an open learning facility. As Illich (1975: 155) argues, "a society which values planned teaching above autonomous learning cannot but teach man to keep his engineered place".

Unfortunately Illich (1970: 142) argues that "today's educational administrators are concerned with controlling teachers and students to the satisfaction of others – trustees, legislatures, and corporate executives. Network builders and administrators would have to demonstrate genius at keeping themselves, and others, out of people's way, at facilitating encounters among students, skills models, educational leaders, and educational objects". This task is especially important in the context of South Africa where past inequalities, prejudices and fears need to be overcome in an atmosphere of cross–cultural bridge–building.

Similarities between Illich's ideas of educational webs can be seen in Perry's neighbourhood principle, where Mumford (1961: 569 - 570) explains "the community centre was a place for discussion and debate and cooperative action, on all public issues: it's purpose was to restore initiative, self–consciousness, and self–direction to the local group: a challenge to partisan loyalties, one–sided decisions, and remote control. Once established, the community centre might launch out in many directions, … fostering participation in amateur theatricals, the practice of the arts and crafts, forming a centre for the spiritual and cultural life of the neighbourhood". The aim of the satellite campus is to effectively form the nucleus of the neighbourhood along the lines of Perry's school and community centre, much as the church historically did. Here Mumford (1961: 569–570) notes that "the principle of neighbourhood organization was to bring within walking distance all the facilities needed daily by the home and school, and to keep outside this pedestrian area the heavy traffic arteries carrying people or goods that had no business in the neighbourhood." Furthermore Mumford (1961: 570–571) argues that "both the population and the peripheral spread of such a community was limited and might be physically defined by either a road system or a green belt, or both". Also Mumford (1961: 571) argues that "by restoring the pedestrian scale and lessening the amount of unnecessary transportation, the neighborhood plan proposed to free traffic arteries for more efficient penetration into larger areas, without endless cross–hauls and time–wasting that a random scattering of urban facilities entails".

Aligned, and further, to these community centres is the idea of skills centres, as argued by Illich (1970: 21). These ideas can be incorporated into the proposed satellite campus. To a certain extent this is already happening in South Africa in the form of technology stations. These aim to develop 'hard' technical skills. The main points describing and aims of these technology stations are listed, as recorded by the author from a radio talk show (Tim Modise with David Powell 1 Jume 2006) and are as follows:

  • Skills development.
  • Technology transfer.
  • Technology Station – modeled after German Technical centres. Contract research. BMW research takes place at technicons as model adopted for S.A.
  • Exchange of expertise.
  • Agri–food processing – Product standards.
  • Patents and intellectual property – agreement with Technology Station and Inventors to profit sharing. Consequently legislation to enable inventor to explore ideas without losing protection.
  • Diffusion centre.
  • 13 Technology transfer centres across the country.
  • Aim to be within arms reach of S.M.E.S. Also with academic institutions.
  • S.A.B.S. Help get registration for inventors of say washing detergent (possibly bio–degradable in keeping with general sustainability bias of this settlement).
  • For inventiveness and creativity we are paying big money overseas (and need to develop here).
  • Must patent and commercialize intellectual property.
  • Critical that we innovate.

It is important to note that as an urban design proposal this project cannot assume to instruct and nor should it rely on instructing how institutions are to be run. However the above discussion on the possible nature of the proposed satellite campus aims to demonstrate that the concept of the Black River precinct acting as a seam, spatially knitting previously fragmented areas together also extends to the social aspect. As Heut (1984: 12) argues, "to speak of urban form is not to ignore social and economic problems, or believe that architecture by itself can constitute the space of the city."

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This project has explored the potential of the Black River and its adjacent environs. Such places are representative of areas often perceived as the 'left over' or 'backyard' of cities. As is the case for the Black River and its adjacent environs, these areas are often found at the juxtapositions of regional and local transport systems. As such, they present good places for strategic interventions to occur. This is because the two systems of transport can be mutually reinforcing in the creation of vibrant urban space. The regional transport system brings energy and life to the local system, provided it is handled in such a way so as not to disrupt and fragment the local area. The local system also benefits from its juxtaposition to the regional as it allows ready access to the broader region, which in turn reinforces other local areas. Consequently, these interstitial spaces can play a powerful role in integrating the city across a number of scales. As such, the Black River and its environs have been used by the project as a way of demonstrating the powerful role such interstitial spaces can play in the integration of the city.

Unfortunately these interstitial spaces are usually configured in our modern cities to act as barriers. This is the case with the Black River precinct. Here the Black River, along with its adjacent transport infrastructure, the Black River Parkway, create a strong barrier in the city. Consequently one of this project's aims has been to demonstrate the possibility for the Black River precinct to act as a seam rather than as a barrier. In order to re-configure the Black River precinct to form a city seam, the transitional zones and interfaces, as Salingaros (2000: 307) argues, present important lines of opportunity for creating urban coherence. These are the lines which at a detail level can create the opportunities for integration and vibrancy. Consequently the Valkenberg-Alexandra precinct has been chosen in the Black River context to identify such 'fractual lines', then using these lines of opportunity, demonstrating the potential of such spaces in activating a city seam.

Having identified the Black River as a general locality of opportunity, and then identifying the Valkenberg-Alexandra Precinct as a specific site of intervention, the project narrows its focus. After proposing that this site accommodate a satellite campus of the University of Cape Town, the project aims to demonstrate how an approach of Dynamic Minimalism can inform the structuring of a framework that can facilitate integration across a range of city scales, right from the general regional city scale down to specific small-scale local actions.

In order to achieve this the project proposes implementing interventions in the city's transport systems to take the pressure off the historic city centre, while at the same time also better integrating marginalized areas of the metropolitan area in its functioning. In implementing these interventions, it is argued that opportunities are created for the emergence of much-needed vibrant public places.

Further to achieving this it is important to consider the city as a living whole at the regional scale - a city created out of a synergy of holistic opposites. In understanding the city at the regional scale, a strategy is put forward by Crane (1960-2) in conceptualizing a symbolic framework as a structuring element within the city. This conceptual framework then serves to inform as to where strategic interventions should occur. Accordingly, the Black River Urban Design Framework Proposal should be as a part of, and within, such a conceptual framework. Ultimately, part of a broader regional vision towards creating and ordering a functional regional city.

In conclusion the project argues for the importance of implementing and facilitating integration in our fragmented modern cities. This is also true for the City of Cape Town which has been even further fragmented through past political agendas. In order to achieve this, an argument is presented that strategic interventions, often in under-utilized and neglected backyard areas of the city, like the Black River area, using a strategy of Dynamic Minimalism, can be used as a means of structuring integration and the sustainable development, across all scales, of our cities. Thus, creating highly liveable, vibrant, 'dynamic' urban environments.

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Appendix A
Source: Cape Times 15 May 2006
Stop the neglect that feeds gang life

This is the headline to an article which speaks of a world which is at the opposite spectrum to that of the middle classes. Here Cowan (2006: 11) reports that

"it is heartbreaking to listen to residents of gang–infested communities describing how their children duck bullets to live.

If people behind their high electrical walls complain about crime in this country, how much worse is it for those in the middle of it?

The current system is not working: the police are under–resourced, work under extremely difficult conditions and have low morale; the courts cannot cope with the numbers facing trial and often police work is too shoddy to obtain convictions. How many will be convicted?

Criminals are seen to be untouchable – they get away with murder. The gangs are active inside the prisons and out …

Until the conditions in society that provide fertile ground for gangsterism and lawlessness to thrive are eradicated, murders and crime will continue.

The rich will continue to get away with murder while the poor will die. The ganglords who order the killings will live while their minions will die.

Who are these minions? They are the countless youths who roam the Cape Flats and other disadvantaged areas in South Africa, uneducated and unemployed and with few choices available to them outside of crime.

Gangsters are continuously recruiting new members; they start by giving vulnerable scholars free drugs. Once they are hooked, payment is demanded and new recruits then steal to pay for their habit. Initially they are given free guns.

After a time they are given 'tasks' to prove themselves in the gang and from there it is a downward spiral to prison where their 'education' is only reinforced.

Crime is a collective social problem and has to be dealt with in this context.

The social, emotional and physical needs of youths which should be met within the family and society as a whole, are being met with gang life.

Society should fulfill these needs by providing education and skills for youth to earn money and gain self–esteem; by providing social activities and entertainment within the community; opportunities for advancement within the community; adequate warmth, food, shelter; and parenting within a loving family. Lastly it should provide employment.

How close does South African society come to providing these basic needs to its youth? Many would argue that, since 1994, we are doing all we need to do and affirmative action is taking care of the rest.

If this were true, there would not be the degree of violent crime there is. Youngsters do not choose gangs their first choice.

I have worked with youth in Pollsmoor and I know this to be true – they start with the same dreams as children from backgrounds who have all the advantages.

The truth is that South Africa is still reeling under the destructive forces of apartheid.

Centuries of slavery, colonism and 46 years of apartheid tore apart the social fabric of black people; they were told that they were inferior and denied basic human rights.

Centuries of this mental and physical oppression and exclusion from the economy cannot be turned around in 12 years.

Many parents still lack the resources to educate their children and provide the necessary life–skills for them to cope.

All adolescents need to feel they have a legitimate stake in society. Marginalized youth will always turn to gangs and crime.

We have to make the gangs less desirable to youngsters. Social structures, not gangs, must fill their needs.

The government must address the following: Schools have to be well resourced. Artisan skills are seriously lacking. Youths should be able to decide early if they want a trade or an academic career. If they choose a trade, they should leave school with the basics. Life–skills such as effective communication, career planning, setting and achieving goals, conflict resolution and taking responsibility must be taught by specialists throughout a child's schooling; sporting facilities must be provided at schools or in the community, and some sport should be compulsory; and cultural clubs must be a part of school life. Scholars must feel safe at school and at home. The army needs to be brought into schools and streets where gangsters operate. Outside of schools gangsters must be isolated, not idolised. Activities to attract the youth off the streets must be organized in civic halls and on sports fields. The youth must be involved in this process.

It is the government's obligation to create viable communities when they build new houses. Matchbox houses stretch over miles and miles in growing numbers over the Cape Flats and all South Africa.

Little consideration is given to the lifestyle of the people who will live in them.

Are there enough community centres being built? Are there enough community centres being built? Are sports fields being incorporated, or churches or village squares, with small shopping areas? Are trees being planted? Are communities being built that give the residents a sense of pride within themselves and their environment or is government creating tomorrow's slums and new breeding grounds for gangs? This is a great concern.


The above quoted extract is from an article in the The Cape Times,15 May 2006, on page 11, Stop the neglect that feeds gang life, by Liz Cowan.

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Black River Urban Design Framework Proposal



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Lance Gilmour • Architect • Urban Designer
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