luca van der merwe-streicher
transforming micro sites into micro living
136 bree street, cape town
heritage, affordable housing, micro-housing, cbd, adaptability, diversification, densification, modular, furniture
After decades of suburban growth and urban sprawl, the concept of urban micro-living remains foreign to most South Africans. In cities where dwelling units are small, people tend to share more public amenities and to spend more time in shared public spaces. This has many positive social, economic and environmental consequences. This paper assesses the design possibilities of micro-housing in Cape Town, a modern African city. A prototype model of inner-city micro-living is applied to a number of potential sites, differentiated by their immediate contexts and their surrounding existing building fabric.
Given the lack of space for new developments within the city, smaller sites within the heritage protection overlay zone are perceived as dev eloper-‘unfriendly’. The joining of existing historical buildings with a contemporary micro-housing project reinforces a connection to the city’s broader context and allows these buildings to gain a second life as part of the city’s diversification trajectory.
The correct implementation of inner-city micro- apartments could play an important r ole in the city’s integration by joining users directly to the city. The reduction of unit prices due to lo w er construction costs per m2 allows first-time buyers to afford inner-city property while ensuring affordable rental agreements for future tenants. Inner-city space should be treated as the luxury that it is and, as architects, w e should design accordingly.
Turning to the more detailed side of architectural problem-solving, I proposed that furniture is so much more than a mere temporary item installed in a vast area of space . Instead, furniture has become permanently etched into walls and molded into floors.
Architecture, on the other hand, can in fact be seen as a sequence of furniture pieces slotted together to create space—a sequence of buildings that assemble a city.
Just as one would assemble a piece of furniture to be used in a designated architectural space, I strive to assemble micro-apartments that will contribute to connecting and enhancing Cape Town’s CBD. Enough of these models should generate the diversification and densification the city needs to promote a more healthy city expansion model, with a c ore that is accessible to