Paper presented at the XXXIII IAHS World Congress on Housing, 27-30 September 2005,"Transforming Housing Environments through Design", University of Pretoria.
Dramatic and devastating spatial, economic and social change occurred in Zimbabwe during the winter months of 2005. Evictions which were activated by the Zimbabwean Government to carry out “Operation Murambatsvina” have resulted in the authoritarian system destroying, torching and dismantling the homes of the urban poor living and working in poverty stricken urban areas. Two adjacent settlements that were victims of the evictions are Hatcliffe Extension Holding Camp and Hatcliffe New Stands, located on the northern periphery of Harare. These two settlements each had a unique and powerful spatial identity in their relatively short existence. This paper explains the power of the emergence of habitable sustainable environments built by the people in comparison to the destructive implications of undemocratic social engineering. My focus centres on the occupation of space and consolidation processes at settlement scale in Hatcliffe New Stands before the evictions took place. This paper argues for the people as the predominant agents of change, rather than the normal passive recipients of services in deprived societies. The fundamental aspect to begin with was to comprehend ‘reality’ from the households’ perspective. It is based on hearing the story from the urban poor. Data has been gathered through sensitive fieldwork from in-depth interviews and observation to spatial surveys within Hatcliffe.
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