Paper presented at the XXXIII IAHS World Congress on Housing, 27-30 September 2005,"Transforming Housing Environments through Design", University of Pretoria.
The housing debate is by no means a novel phenomenon. Low-income housing and informal settlements have been hotly debated in the past four decades on international ground . However, the urgency of the basic need for shelter and the plight of the urban poor cannot be ignored in the current inadequate housing response, continual overcrowding and growing number of informal settlements in Cape Town, South Africa. This paper seeks to present an Urban Design Framework (UDF) for Joe Slovo, one of the N2 Housing Gateway Projects. The argument examines appropriate design responses for low-income housing. Housing is not seen in isolation from the complex layers of urban society , but rather as an integral component to the totality of settlement. A key concern is that housing cannot be considered in isolation of other fundamental urban imperatives, including land, capital, financial resources, technology, transport, communication systems, people and energy. Access to these vital resources can generate substantial economic opportunity, innovation and income growth. Although the initial spatial approach takes a sensitive and holistic viewpoint towards housing environments, a major downfall within the project is the lack of participation with the beneficiaries and surrounding communities in the planning and design process, combined with a top-down approach to deliver ‘numbers’ of ‘housing units’ within a very tight time frame. We emphasise that this is directly opposed to a more value-based approach to making human settlements.
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