The Spatial planning and design studio (landscape and urbanism) brings together honours students from the Planning and Architecture disciplines. It engages with the city as an entangled, relational process to unearth unconventional organisational systems including cultural, historical and physical (natural and built) do develop inclusive approaches for humans and wildlife.
Focused on the ‘Old-Katutura’ settlement, the process seeks to strengthen ground up design and planning, and recognises these environments as a dynamic, site-specific, and continually reforming. A landscape and urbanism lens allow for the intersectional understanding with the everyday concerns of citizens and brings together appropriation, lived experiences and perception, with the natural-, historical- and cultural-landscape.
This challenges the status-quo of modernist planning that was instrumentalised during Apartheid and persist to this day, to generate more integrated neighbourhoods by foregrounding a spatial approach. These exposes students from both the planning and architecture disciplines to methodologies that go beyond the standardised and outdated policies, to reimagine place specific approaches that are flexible, adaptive and transformative. For architecture students the focus is the design of public space networks and undermines the objectification of buildings, leading to fragmented identities.
Through explorative learning and reflection, with alternative mapping methodologies at the centre of the investigation. Students are tasked to explored and develop qualitative responses that strengthen existing conditions, such as hierarchies and networks, towards an integrated urban landscape.
The Spatial design Studio module is supported by a theory course focused on global-south urbanism, a number of seminars as well as a research methodology module, running concurrently, and feeding into the studio.
To explore existing processes, students were tasked to utilise verbs of their choice to develop an alternative understanding of spatial processes which could then be utilised to develop generative approaches, applications, or concepts.
Some of the generative lenses developed by student groups this semester included:
Play (for adults and children) was utilised as a lens to develop spatial concepts for safer and more inclusive environments with recreation, spontaneity and creativity at the heart. The projects negotiate between adult recreation (alcohol consumption and associated activities) and child friendly spaces that create a public space network that weaves together civic, religious and educational institutions and incorporates ecological infrastructure.
Consumption of meat and beer, alongside the cultural consumption of ‘Herero fashion’ informs an analysis of the flow of goods and people in the ‘single-quarters’ and adjacent market, streets and bus-stop. Here the role of alleys and permeability of blocks, as well as the fine grained urban fabric were identified as key drivers of the urban character and students focused on strengthening the programmatic drivers by drawing on economic and cultural hierarchies inherent in the space.
In a different instance, ‘unearthing’ and ‘breaking’ were used as conceptual informants to negotiate between the old cemetery, the Sam Nujoma Stadium, and the adjacent residential neighbourhoods. Unearthing the history of everyday stories was seen as a means of reimagining the cemetery, stadium and residence as a means of telling the story of Katutura, resulted in an approach that seeks to imbed these stories into the urban fabric. Simultaneously, the group proposed to break through social and physical barriers to link these vastly different scales and to leverage the stadium as an additional mechanism to invigorating the surroundings by challenging its introverted nature and programmatic use.
Utilising the concept of ‘drifting’ the analysis follows in a situationist tradition to identify qualitative drivers of the space, while ‘fabricating’ looked both at the process of construction and reconstruction of the built fabric, while also analysing the intersection of smooth and striated space drawing on the deleuzian concept of ‘felt’ and ‘fabric’.
The metabolic flow of waste, materials, people, water and fauna places urban corridors and rivers as ‘green belts’ at the heart of the investigation and brings together natural- and man-made networks. It seeks to strengthen movement (pedestrian and transport) of school children and waste pickers alike. These positions the natural and man-made spaces as the key recreational and ecological infrastructure in this strategy. Here flooding is mitigated, while insect- and birdlife are instrumental for seed dispersal.
Groups dealing with ‘narrating’ and ‘naming’ seek to unearth the stories of informal trades to challenge homogenising policy, while the various processes of naming and renaming are utilised as means of developing historical narratives. Working at various scales, the naming process utilises graffiti, signage of the various businesses and official naming processes of streets, schools and other urban components to pose questions about ownership and to foreground heterogenous interest groups.