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The Openheid State From closed to open society in Cape Town

Name: 
Michelle Provoost / ArchiNed
City: 
Rotterdam
Country: 
Netherlands
Category: 
Critique
Contents: 

The urban design principles that shaped Western Europe's open society had a huge impact on the twentieth century. In a variety of constellations they can be found in each country, under every political system, and in every urban design that was fashionable in its day. But there is no other country where these principles have been adopted and perversely transformed as in South Africa.

In South Africa these design principles were not used to build an open society, but to build a closed society of townships, with as their main and only goal the segregation of coloured and white people. It is hard to imagine another country in which urban design had such a direct and huge impact on society. Where social engineering was so successfully executed by the Apartheid regime through urban design, and where urban design proved its power as a social engineering tool. In Cape Town apartheid is set in concrete.

With the apartheid inheritance still very visible in every neighbourhood, and on every street corner, the most urgent question in contemporary Cape Town is, how urban design can help reverse the situation that it created itself. How to open the closed, and separated town, and make it into a city that connects physically and mentally. Is it possible to wipe away the spatial traces of apartheid? The Density Syndicate, a project by the African Centre for Cities and International New Town Institute, deals with these questions.

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