Spacing Urban Spaces

Posted by Flux on 

26 June 2012

What is trending now?

Re-designing our cities to kindle relational wholeness. In his talk at the recent Flux Trends Review innovating with Samsung conference, Mokena Makeka from Makeka Design Lab spoke directly in step with the worldwide trend of rethinking and redesigning our cities.

Many of our cities and urban spaces across the globe are relics from the industrial age, designed to have many of the same and to produce many of the same. Closer to home in South Africa we have inherited our urban spaces from the architects of Apartheid, cities that were designed to seperate. We have in the post modern rediscovered our right brain, rediscovered that we are creative beings and rediscovered, in post apartheid South Africa, that we are human after all and that we need to live in harmony with one another and with creation.

Why it’s important?

As Makeka pointed out so brilliantly at the conference, the way in which our cities are designed will either foster relationships and democracy or actively prevent them, as the Apartheid city planners also knew too well.

According to Makeka we need to be creating democratic spaces or spaces that encourage a ‘democratic’ way of life. The proverbial town square or piazza where people can mingle, meet and be. Cities should be places where we can share ideas and create communities rather than places of consumption and seperation. Our cities should be stimulating harmonious relationships between people and between us and nature. Take a look at ‘the green heart of shanghai’ article in VISI by Dion Chang to see a fantastic example of this. We need to be living closer together and living out in public spaces, common spaces that we all share ownership of, meaning simply sharing a safe park with everyone rather than everyone creating their own park in their backyard.

Another worthwhile mention is that one of the urban tribes featured in Fluxtrend’s book, the  New Urban Tribes of South Africa, the faith based youth are transforming their church buildings from worship warehouses to anything from galleries, theaters and ‘rent-a-desk’ office spaces to serve their communities and create spaces of communion.

What’s the butterfly effect?

Instead of merely continually to sprawl out our cities and create estate after estate or township after township, we will begin to live in a way. Our very spaces will facilitate better relationships and a higher quality of living. Through what Makeka calls, ‘urban acupuncture’ by strategically developing key areas we can create a new more harmonious and more democratic society.

The pioneers and global hotspots is a good local place to check out, also see how the Netherlands are redesigning their cities to be even more bicycle friendly, see especially the town of Houten.

The key to moving this trend forward in South Africa is simply for us, the everyday south african, to begin to use the spaces that are there already and to create spaces or rescue spaces in our own neighbourhoods.

by: Pierre Du Plessis

About Pierre

Pierre is a communicator, a dreamer and a troublemaker. He loves how we are all connected in more astounding ways and more than we ever thought. He is completely obsessed with life in contemporary culture and he wallows in new ideas and marvels at how they can restore and re – create our world.

Image credit: Flux Trends

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