"The right to a healthy, liveable and equitable urban environment that embraces diversity is one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights" (David Harvey, 2012:4).
The urban public realm of many post-apartheid South African cities fosters inequalities as a result of past ideologies and rapid urbanisation of the 21st century. As such, cities of the 21st century are witness to an atrophying public realm, characterised by deteriorating infrastructure, inadequate services, crime and pollution (Murray, 2008:16). Public spaces which are incapable of supporting dynamic public use ultimately hinder the social and environmental sustainability of our cities, thereby threatening the pursuit of a just city.
Through the design of a communal trading and educational centre, this dissertation serves to investigate, the role that architecture can play in challenging the injustices prevalent in the city through the exploration of the relationship between environmental and social justice towards designing equitable urban futures that foster individual and communal success (Griffan, 2015:9). The proposed programme consists of an informal trading market and retail centre, a trade and business learning centre, an information centre, as well as an after-care facility. The design of a trading market investigates how architecture can facilitate the infiltration of informal urbanism in an equitable manner, while the trade and business learning centre offers people the opportunities that they have previously been denied. The community centre aims to become a building for the people by the people and is established as a catalyst for social and environmental justice.
The Pretoria station precinct, a crucial part of the Southern Gateway of Pretoria, creates the laboratory of investigation for this dissertation. The public realm of the Pretoria station illuminates the current decline of public spaces, which is considered detrimental to achieving urban justice. As such, theories of justice in cities, along with the theory of regenerative architecture, hybridity and phenomenology, are adopted to create a theoretical design framework towards establishing the site as a community asset promoting equitable living.
Mini Dissertation (MArch (Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2019.