Posts tagged with "Cape Town":

Placeholder Alt Text

Striking drone footage over Cape Town reveals its divided landscape

Aerial photography, by nature, usually reveals patterns that are hard to comprehend as a pedestrian. Large-scale features such as infrastructure, landscape, and human geography can be put into perspective and thanks to Google Maps and other online satellite mapping services, this is information is all readily available at our fingertips.

However, as one photographer has pointed out, much still goes unnoticed. A resident of Cape Town, South Africa since 2012, Johnny Miller has captured the city’s housing landscape and highlighted a problem that's still plaguing post-Apartheid South Africa. As his project title Unequal Scenes suggests, Miller’s images portray the scale and proximity of inequality still present in Cape Town.

"There's a very uniquely South African form of spatial segregation that was developed during the apartheid," said Miller in an interview with The Architect's Newspaper (AN), adding how city planning and infrastructure carved Cape Town's social and racial demographics. "So, for example, roads, rivers, train tracks: the apartheid government did very well at separating people through architecture," he continued. "You see just in the way that the city is designed, it’s going be pretty difficult to redistribute wealth and facilitate the free movement of people."

Miller said he likes how his detailed images facilitate long-term viewing. The physical structure of communities becomes visible, allowing the disparity to be instantly apparent. The homes of the wealthy are arranged in a clearly structured and planned fashion. The "townships" of the poorer, black community however, show roads—if they can be called that—meandering in every which way. As a result, keeping track of dwellings, keeping them on the electric grid and part of the plumbing system, is difficult though most visibly, however, is perhaps the change in color from one side to the other. For instance, one township is adjacent to a golf course: a wealth of greenery covers the wealthier area while the township shows only shack rooftops and dusty dirt-tracks.

Manenberg Phola Park

With the rise of the Nelson Mandela, the apartheid government lost power in 1994. More than twenty years on, Miller explains that change hasn't been easy. There's been a failure in communication between the government and its people, leading to mistrust in state power. "There’s a lot of inequality, disenfranchised people who are really angry," said Miller. But he's is hopeful his project will finally spark a constructive dialogue between the authorities and the population. “I’m trying to promote a peaceful dialogue where people can share their opinions and become aware…. I think awareness is the only tool to defeat the fear that I see as really the root problem,” he added.

Miller hopes the legacy of his project will be the government's response to the questions that arise from his photography. Already, government officials have responded to his work, remarking on their awareness of the issue and stating that they are working on the problem. "What gets me excited about this project... you start to hear those answers, which is really what people want to hear," Miller implored.

Merely photographing the from above, though, isn't Miller's only ambition. He estimates that very few individuals within these poorer communities have even heard about his work. Despite his doing the rounds in South Africa’s printed media, mobile-media remains the dominant form of communication for many in townships. Cellular data tariffs can be pricey. Miller subsequently intends to display his work to residents within the photographed townships, providing what he thinks is an unseen perspective on where they live. “I think it would be really fascinating to show the person on the rich side and the poor side, just see what they have to say.”

Papwa Sewgolum Golf Course 1

In light of the responses Miller’s work has drawn, especially in comments on his Facebook page, it seems that his photography illuminates what appears to be an inconvenient truth for many. “In my opinion, I think it’s a lot of fear that drives these negative comments. Fear of the other, not understanding the person on the other side of the fence."

“Perhaps it takes flying above people, two to three hundred meters, to take away that humanity and reduce humans to mass clearings, or agglomerations, for people to pay attention," he continued, noting how some may have become desensitized to the traditional imagery of poverty: the African child with a bloated stomach looking into the camera. Indeed, "that face" can come from anywhere in the Third World, whereas Miller's drone images illustrate that poverty literally is on their doorstep, something which is arguably more personal.

What is apparent from Miller's work is that the drone provides a new perspective that, in Miller's words, “people really respond to. Seeing something they thought they knew in a different way" is evidently something that resonates—with the wealthier side for now, at least. If you want to follow Johnny Miller's project, you can do so through his Twitter feed, here. You can also find more videos here.

Placeholder Alt Text

Munich Residents Demand Affordable Housing Replace Parking Spaces

With major cities running short on affordable housing, local residents have adopted unique measures to air their grievances. In New York, the Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network (BAN) held a sign outside a real estate summit in Brooklyn last year, asking car-driving attendees to honk if the rent was "too high." Earlier this year, students at the University of Cape Town in South Africa erected an iron shack on campus to decry the lack of housing available to poor students around the city. For people living in Munich, the solution was simple but proactive. Leerstand089, a citizen group in the city, listed all vacant parking spaces to shame the authorities into building more affordable housing for residents. The plan worked, with a 120-unit apartment complex now slated to replace a parking lot once used at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The area is surrounded by large gardens with trees, a modest soccer field, and a swimming pool. To prevent the rent prices from rising, the apartments will be economically built to keep them within Germany's rent stabilization threshold. Leerstand089, which stands for vacancy and Munich's area code, has notched up several other successes with a number of buildings being earmarked as housing sites. The most recent is a 5,700-square-foot building now designated as a public housing cooperative that will contain 11 rental apartments. The group's basic action plan encourages everyday citizens to call out neglected buildings. If the building is being left unattended, they will report it to the city so it can be put to better use.
Placeholder Alt Text

Grains to Galleries: Heatherwick design converts South African silos into a cathedral for art

A monolithic cluster of concrete silos on the Cape Town waterfront is the subject of a dramatic surgical intervention. The industrial relic will be transformed by Thomas Heatherwick into an art museum planned for the city's V&A Waterfront. The project entails the conversion of the grain silo complex into a new space to house and display the Jochen Zeitz Collection, an assortment of art that will act as the foundation for Zeitz MOCAA a non-profit institution dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. Rather than attempt to grapple with the unwieldy nature of the extant structure, Heatherwick elected to embrace its"tubiness." The cluster of cylindrical spaces will remain largely intact while a towering glass-roofed museum atrium is carved out from its interior, resulting in a curvaceous irregular honeycomb form denoting an egg-shaped void. Surrounding bins will be filled by smaller galleries or re-purposed as elevator shafts and spiral stairways. Paint will be stripped from the exterior of the silos to expose the structure's original concrete. Other alterations to the building are relatively minor. A restaurant and sculpture garden will be placed atop the roof. Curved glazed panels will be inserted into some of the more rectilinear portions of the exterior. These subtly bulging additions are meant cast Zeitz MOCAA as a "glowing lantern or beacon for the harbor" by night. Heatherwick Studio will collaborate with South African firms Van Der Merwe Miszewski, Rick Brown Associates, and Jacobs Parker Architects to realize the museum. The decision to preserve much of the silo complex may go a ways towards tempering local concerns regarding the direction and scale of the development of the waterfront. The plans for the museum were revealed at Design Indaba, an annual design expo held in Cape Town. Heatherwick will also be contributing a large fountain to Manhattan's in-the-works Hudson Yards development.
Placeholder Alt Text

Out-of-This-World Cup Stadia in South Africa

Americans do like soccer, contrary to what many around the world believe. American architects, though? Hard to say.. But even for the most soccer-agnostic architects, there are four good reasons to watch -- or at least glancingly pay attention to -- this year's World Cup in South Africa. Four of the 10 stadia designed or renovated for this year's quadrennial World Cup really are worth checking out beyond the context of international soccer matches. These stadia will be long-lasting legacies of the World Cup; that's good news for people who want to check these structures out, but potentially bad news for the cities that have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in what may become massive white elephants. And here they are, AN's favorite four!! Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg The showpiece of the World Cup, this striking earth-toned stadium will play host to eight of the tournament's 64 matches, including the opener and the final. Designed by  South Africa-based Boogertman + Partners in conjunction with U.S.-based Populous (formerly HOK Sport) the stadium is actually a renovation of the original Soccer City, built in 1987, the structural profile of which remains at the core of this updated version. The new design gives the stadium a three-tiered structure with room for about 94,700 people -- the biggest in Africa. It was modeled after the calabash, a traditional African gourd pot, and its bowl-like appearance makes it one of the most interesting World Cup sights to see. Driving down the Soweto Highway at night, it can almost be mistaken for a far-off twinkling city skyline. Now accessible by the Johannesburg's World Cup-instigated Rea Vaya bus rapid transit system, the stadium will see some continued use in the future as home to the South African National team, as well as various cultural and sporting events. And additional commercial and residential developments are also expected to rise up around the stadium, so locals are hoping the $440 million the city invested will pay off in the long-run. Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban This brand new stadium in Durban has maybe the most unexpected design of all the World Cup Stadia. Modeled after the South African National Flag, the stadium has a 105-meter-high arch that runs the length of the oval-shaped structure. At one end, that arch splits as it heads towards the ground, creating a gap that provides a view of nearby downtown Durban to people in the stands during its seven World Cup matches. The stadium as a whole has a very ship-like feel to it, which is appropriate in Durban, South Africa's famous beachside city. And, as an added novelty, the arch boasts a funicular "skycar" that transports tourists up to its apex for what are probably some very sweet views of the city. The bold can even bungee jump from the top, though a series of malfunctions with the skycar left a number of tourists stranded at the top of the arch on multiple occasions leading up to the Cup. This stadium was designed by GMP Architekten, a German firm, and the designer of two other notable stadia on this list. At a cost of 4.8 billion Rand (roughly $640 million), Moses Mabhida Stadium is the second most expensive stadium built for the World Cup. There will be seating for 70,000 for the World Cup, but the amount of seating can be reduced to 54,000 or increased to 80,000 depending on the need. Need, however, is a concern in Durban, as no professional team (soccer nor rugby) has yet decided to use it as their home base. Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth GMP Architekten's design for this brand new stadium in the relatively small but growing oceanside city of Port Elizabeth has an appropriately nautical feel. Overlooking the city's North End Lake, the stadium exterior emulates the sails of an early trading ship, and its pointed bulges are like the ridges on a bottle cap. Host to just five World Cup matches, the stadium's impressive features are likely to push it across TV screens far more than its game count would otherwise merit. After the Cup, the city is hoping that two local teams -- one rugby, one soccer -- will take it on as their home field. But both of those teams have not succeeded in climbing into their sports' respective top leagues, which makes the prospect of regularly filling a 48,000-seater for minor league sports unlikely. This unfortunate reality has left the city questioning the wisdom of its $270 million investment -- and worried about the stadium's future. Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town This subtle but attractive stadium is less a statement of its own than an exclamation point for a city with more than its share of iconic scenery. Positioned near the tip of Africa, Cape Town boasts an incredibly scenic oceanfront. And with Table Mountain and Signal Hill behind it, the addition of this brand new stadium to the city's beach side Green Point Common is just icing. Its strong vertical walls and gently dipped roof line accentuate the flatness of the city's famous mountains, and also provide a classy look to what is already a posh and cosmopolitan city. Though there has been some controversy about the selection of Green Point as the site of a brand new stadium when existing stadia in the city could have been World Cup-ready with little investment, the stadium is already considered a postcard asset. GMP Architekten's design includes a translucent skin, which turns the stadium into a bright glowing light during evening events. And an innovative roof design contains much of the sound generated at the stadium within its walls, a boon to nearby residents who would otherwise be subjected to the impressively loud sound of up to 68,000 vuvuzelas. Seating will be reduced to 55,000 after Cape Town's eight World Cup matches are over. At a total cost of roughly $773 million, this is the most expensive stadium of the World Cup. City officials have contracted with a management company to book events in the stadium to help pay off what has been a major investment for the city.