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Evaluate what interventions have taken place to integrate the historical urban fabric with new functions using modern forms and structures in Langa

by | Apr 1, 2022 | Art & architecture | 0 comments

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Langa informal settlement in Cape Town, South Africa was initially established in 1927, due to the 1923 Urban Areas Act which resulted in the forced removal of Africans from their homelands into segregated locations. Langa is one of the oldest townships in Cape Town and was subsequently the site of numerous resistance movements opposing apartheid, many of which took place in the historic public spaces and contemporary community centres such as the Guga S’thebe Community Center.
This paper aims to evaluate what interventions have taken place to integrate the historical urban fabric with new functions using modern forms and structures in Langa. Through the use of planning and photographic documentation, and a review of the Culture in Community Programme (CIC), an official position is established. Cartographic materials, such as historic and current urban planning maps, in addition to qualitative and quantitative data relating to Community Arts Centres and public spaces, supplements the official narrative.
The paper concludes by suggesting that Community Arts Centres play a seminal role in contributing to contemporary public space in South Africa. As hubs, Community Arts Centres create a new sphere to negotiate the social and economic life that has the potential to build a new spatial identity for a marginalized space. Such decolonization of public space has led to the creation of a new form of architectural ‘place’ that has a uniquely South African spirit of bringing tangible and intangible into the built environment.
Keywords: revitalisation, community centres, integration, decolonization, public space.
Additional Information:
Localizing social infrastructures (e.g., facilities for elder care, supported accommodations for people with disabilities, facilities for communal use such as community centres, libraries, youth clubs, playgrounds, sport and religious facilities etc.) in all its complexities of public expenditure, privatizations of public operations, market-led land-use planning, and segregation processes is challenging for contemporary welfare societies. The localizing of social infrastructure addresses the challenges connected to managing spatially differentiated socio-economic landscapes.
Traditionally, social infrastructures have been located in the midst of the urban (and rural) fabric, not seldom occupying prominent places, and seconded by high quality architecture. Social infrastructures have also played an important role in the development of the welfare state where they have been used as ‘tools’ in the overarching neighborhood planning paradigm for conveying democratic values and promoting social equity. Today, the landscape of welfare facilities appears as dispersed and somewhat elusive as new purpose-built schools may be located centrally in new urban developments or retrofitted in derelict industrial buildings in the outskirts of housing districts or located in generic office spaces – as one among many exchangeable tenants.
Localizing social infrastructure includes both spatial/geographical and administrative/legal considerations. It also involves a multitude of actors as well as the navigating different responsibilities, making localizing a complex matter of interactions and collaborations. This opens up questions such as: What social infrastructure is localized where and on what grounds? Which social inequalities and/or stigma will be brought to the fore by certain choices of locations? How will this affect citizen’s sense of belonging, identity and community? Localizing social infrastructure is a truly geographical endeavor closely connected to urban planning and social work.
This thematic issue seeks to chart the localizing of social infrastructures from an urban planning perspective and address the topic in a broad sense concerning questions such as i) the preconditions for localizing such facilities in the urban landscape, ii) the social consequences of the localizing of such facilities for individuals as well as, iii) for the long-term social sustainability of the wider community. We are interested in contributions that tackle localizing of social infrastructures in their historical, contemporary or future dimensions. We welcome proposals taking on board the ‘where’, ‘what’ and ‘why’ regarding this, and envision contributions from a multitude of theoretical perspectives and angles. Due to the multi-disciplinary aspects of this topic, we invite scholars from outside urban planning, e.g., social work, sociology, geography, political science and architecture.
References to be included:
Dear, M. (1978) Planning for Mental Health Care: A Reconsideration of Public Facility Location Theory.
International Regional Science Review 3(2), 93-111.
DeVerteuil, G. (2010) Reconsidering the legacy of urban public facility location theory in human
geography. Progress in Human Geography 24(1), 47–69.
Fjellfeldt, M., Berglund-Snodgrass, L., Högström, E., Markström, U., (forthcoming). Institutional fringes –
exploring location strategies of supported housing in a post-deinstitutional era. Social Inclusion.
Högström, E. (2018). ‘It used to be here but moved somewhere else’: Post-asylum spatialisations – a new
urban frontier? Social & Cultural Geography, 19(3).
Klinenberg, E. (2018). Palaces for the people-how social infrastructure can help fight inequality,
polarization, and the decline of civic life. New York, Crown Publishing Group.
Latham, A. & Layton, J. (2019) Social infrastructure and the public life of cities: studying urban sociality
and public spaces. Geography Compass, 13e12444.


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