Rivers once had meaning to societies. This meaning was associated with agricultural practices, spiritual connection with nature, social interaction and the combination of all these different activities and functions which were enjoyed by the whole community. Today these rivers have little (if any) meaning to society. Meaning has been lost due to neglect, pollution and crime. The spirit of community once associated with these rivers is now under threat. The purpose of this study was to explore the potential of a river system in creating meaningful places for a shared sense of community. It therefore presents an attempt at re/claiming this meaning, through the application of community design theory, with a river’s edge intervention that connects people with others, and communities with the river. The design process started with a site analysis to highlight the challenges and opportunities of the study area, local framework area, masterplan area and focus site. Existing frameworks and precedent studies assisted in compiling guidelines and design principles for the project. The study found that by dealing away with the current negative image of the river and re-introducing activities that the community values, these spaces can be re/claimed as meaningful people spaces. Community design, informed by the concept of place-making, is an appropriate theory for revitalising the river systems which cut through urban landscapes and disconnect communities. This study suggest that a landscape design based on community ethics, aspirations and cultural values i.e. social aspects of landscape architecture, is most likely to succeed in the long run as it creates a sense of belonging and ownership.
Dissertation (ML(Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2011.