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kaylee benkenstein


sowing the seeds of sustainability


muizenburg, cape town

systems thinking, urban resilience, nested scalarity, feedback loops, relationscapes


Our built environments, and the ways in which we occupy them, exist as a collection of material, social and energy flows. The cumulative representation of these processes is known as the urban metabolism, and the prevailing and problematic trend reflected in these models of most cities is that of linearity.
Amidst compounding concerns of resource depletion and environmental damage, it is clear that these linear flow patterns are neither sustainable nor empowering trends to prolong. It is imperative that we start to implement strategies of intervention that consolidate input and output into some form of cyclical process, however incremental that change may be.

In response to this, the research inquiry investigates an interception of everyday patterns of resource consumption and disuse through the introduction of socially and activity-driven infrastructures that initiate and cultivate the development of locally closed resource circuits and feedback loops.
The unique social and spatial context of Muizenberg is leveraged as a testing ground to explore the programmatic and design narratives of three anchoring nodes that address this building of community-based resilience through the interdependent spheres of food production, knowledge sharing and waste management.

The result is a choreographed multi-node urban scheme that references the adaptive cycle model of ecosystems as a framework for the reshaping of existing patterns through the introduction of interconnected micro-systems rather than the imposition of an overarching macrosystem.

As such, the design narrative explores the departure from a singular built form, and instead imagines an event-driven architectural process of nested sequences: initiated by small-scale contraptions, cultivated by the social momentum of ritualized congregation, and spatially materialized through the relational principles of configuration.


narrated presentation


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dissertation document