derek james kleynhans
urban place of social regeneration: [re]imagining heritage + identity in the plural city
riebeeck square, buitengracht street, cape town
heritage, identity, culture, performance space, transience, temporality
This dissertation explores the potential of temporary and adaptable architecture in public space in order to serve both as mediator between the past and the present and as catalyst for social regeneration. The architectural investigation locates itself in the City of Cape Town and more specifically in Riebeeck Square. Having been inhabited by multiple collective identities in its past, Riebeeck Square offers an opportunity to grapple with the various social layers of heritage and identity. This dissertation aims at establishing renewed social dialogue between collectives and individuals through cultural difference in a space geared towards cultural performance, social interaction and negotiation. The intervention itself mediates between the existing tangible heritage on the square (St Stephen’s Dutch Reformed Church, originally the African Theatre) and the contemporary urban dweller by means of universal interstitial space. The intervention attempts to carve out space between buildings for the purpose of publicising culture, thereby encouraging familiarity, appreciation, respect and even the mutual transmission of culture and unprejudiced social reproduction.
The temporary intervention forms the liminal, bounding space around the performance and relates itself to the built fabric of the city through means of mixed-use co-living and workspaces. Platforms, access and vertical movement routes (situated within the interstitial spaces) are articulated in order to encourage spectatorship, involvement and interaction with the spaces between them and below. In essence, this design proposal is conceived as another layer of time and culture, related to the present and the near future, with the possibility of adapting to the dynamic and cyclical nature of the city in order to continuously encourage social cohesion.