Urban Consulate is an exploration of urban exchange and growth within the 21st century paradigm. This dissertation investigates the potential of reclaimed civic space within the city as urban catalyst for participation and growth – a platform with which to regenerate meaningful participation within the urban environments and ensure densification without negation and destruction.
The suburb of Brixton is one of the oldest suburbs in Johannesburg. Located to the west of Braamfontein and viewed as a compartmentalized fragment within the city of Johannesburg, this urban suburb forms the laboratory of investigation for the dissertation. Currently in flux, the area is rezoned for urbanisation and densification within the Johannesburg City plan. There are various proposals to relink the suburb back to the city.
The chosen site of investigation is concerned with harnessing both the local condition and its potential to connect to the city of Johannesburg. In an attempt to redefine concepts of territory and boundary in civic architecture, the investigation is contextually located between urban fragments of suburbia, urban conditions and veld (natural environment). The site is a lost urban asset on the edge of Brixton next to the Sentech Tower. The urban intention is to reprogram the site as part of a productive public landscape, while the programmatic intentions are to enable the urban condition of city growth through facilitating local needs and desire lines. The dissertation therefore blurs the present day distinctions of ‘public’, ‘social’, ‘productive’, and ‘natural’ space while at the same time placing focus on local and socio-economic conditions. It investigates how the support of community and local conditions enables the urban.
The architectural intentions are to “blur” the physical and perceived boundaries between the dweller and the city, the suburban and the urban. The scheme seeks to find how architecture as an enabler of “structures of enchantment” – the ordinary and extraordinary that make up a city – can facilitate individual and collective memory and couple the idea of city and the fantastical with that of home-finding and the everyday. In short, the 21st century approach to design and city-making must shift towards a participative approach in terms of urban exchange and place-making.
Mini Dissertation MArch(Prof)--University of Pretoria, 2018.