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roark robinson


sustainable archetypes for the development of underutilised public land


culemborg, foreshore

housing, public space, urban inclusion


This dissertation establishes a process for developing large tracts of under-utilised government land, defining site parameters, urban character, component relationships and the economic environment. It develops this in the context of Culemborg Foreshore, which is transformed into an extension of the CBD. The site leverages its location and transport networks in support of a dense urban development proposal.

The project explores numerous conditions for creating an appropriate high-density urban environment for the future South African city. This frames an investigation into the typical block, a core component of the research which attempts to create an archetype appropriate for the development of socio-economically inclusive urban environments. It introduces the need for air rights as a means of accommodating social housing and civic buildings in a dense, medium-rise city environment, providing walk-up social housing in the inner-city. It uses government land ownership and zoning as leverage to ensure that the city is developed in an equitable manner. The development includes a meaningful amount of social housing, a component which aims to fast track spatial reform and radically shift the demographics of the inner city.

The urban project ensures that these high densities are developed in a sustainable manner, creating generous park spaces and public squares as a relief to compact living. Density is used as the catalyst in shaping a bustling walkable city, a vibrant economy and generous civic functions, components which have traditionally been lacking in South African housing projects.

This dissertation has structured a good understanding of how cities, blocks, buildings and units’ structures are inter-dependant. The architectural project takes what has been learnt from this comprehensive process of structuring the city and applies it to the design of a transport interchange block which reflects the functionally diverse set of components explored within the archetype. The development of these buildings acts as a means of testing and further developing the urban guidelines which structure the city.

Whilst the design project is tailored to the urban siting, the development process and the resultant archetypes established in this dissertation should be applicable to the development of other well-located, under-utilised state land in the South African context


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dissertation document