Play Khayelitsha

A playful participation platform for a shared understanding of the Khayelitsha Central Business District Spatial Development Framework

On the 20th of November 2015 the first session of Play Khayelitsha city gaming series took place at the Zenzele Training Centre in Cape Town, South Africa.

purpose: Unlocking ideas for the development of the township's centre
partners: in/formal south
client: Khayelitsha Community Trust
engagement: ±60 stakeholders in 1st game session
project duration: November 2015 - continuous

The game table representing the future proposals of the SDF plan

The game table representing the future proposals of the SDF plan

All rights reserved

Created as an interactive city game to help stakeholders prioritise investments for developing Khayelitsha’s Central Business District, the first session brought city officials, local politicians, investors and community members together around the game table to share knowledge, build consensus and discuss opportunities for the implementation of the current spatial framework proposals.

Using a playful and interactive method like city gaming towards a shared vision is a conscious choice given the range of stakeholders and interested parties involved with the future growth of the area.

Here we highlight some of the key discussions, ideas and outcomes of the session.

The game table

Game Structure

When entering the game room players were given a role card based on their existing involvement in the Khayelitsha central area. These role cards paired players based on their player numbers to simulate a set of 15 teams, each consisting of a range of players.

The players

Each player was asked to voice their main urgency in relation to the development of the area. Issues such as safety, quality public spaces, improved play areas for children and pedestrian- friendly environments were voiced repeatedly by local community representatives. Urgencies around how to create investor attraction, business opportunities for local contractors and the integration of informal traders in new developments were rated high amongst all players as important matters to be addressed.

Local community representatives

A new urban image for Khayelitsha was imagined, where young professionals are attracted to work, live and play in the centre in a high density mixed use environment, supported by sustainable home ownership models and creative hubs spaces for social development, with the potentials of this image spreading throughout Khayelitsha.

With these positive urban agendas as the backdrop for the game play, the teams were asked to each focus on a specific precinct within the KBD. Teams had to consider how they could reimagine their precinct based on addressing possible questions relating to the future outcome of the KBD development proposals:

• What are our desired densities?
• How can we mix land uses?
• How do we accommodate public transport and IRT routes?
• How can we create a 24/7 active and safe space?
• How can we locate our buildings to create a quality urban space?

Youth representatives voicing ideas for more cultural facilties


After discussing each precinct in relation to potential partnerships and collaboration players were asked to place voting chips on developments or proposals which they felt needed primary investment and prioritisation. Below are listed the areas which received the most votes:

SPORTS PRECINCT - Because of the role that this precinct will play in the broader recreational quality of the area many players urged for this area to receive primary investment. Players emphasised the need for a variety of sports that will attract young and old while stimulating social development.

RETAIL - Retail represents economic opportunity but also allows for a mixed use environment through small scale retail incorporated throughout the site. This was supported by many players for social as well as economic reasons.

SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE - The need for community facilities and public services to be incorporated within housing developments was seen as an urgent priority focus area.

KNOWLEDGE INSTITUTIONS - Youth representatives agreed that Khayelitsha centre needs a university or college to diminish the need for long distance travelling.

CREATIVE SPACES - The proposals for a theatre, lab or creative emporium was very well supported by all players, emphasising the important link between such as space and the residential areas.

The diverse range of proposals made it clear that Khayelitsha’s centre area must become a place where all services and opportunities are available so that residents do not have to leave area to access any social, economic or recreational facilities.

Results from player discussions and proposals - renewable energies, higher densities and apartments above retail

Ideas for a green office development

Prioritising a technical college or university for Khayelitsha centre

It is clear that both within and amongst stakeholders now is the time for open negotiation. The first session of Play Khayelitsha showcased that through collaborative discussions, issues around how to develop a vibrant city centre while also addressing urban challenges facing the area can be resolved through knowledge sharing and collaborative technical inputs. Possibilities of attracting investment to facilitate development in a coherent manner will be the next challenge that future city gaming sessions will focus on. Consequences of the development choices to the overall functioning of the metropolitan area also need to become a central discussion point for future sessions.

Play Khayelitsha not only brings knowledge together to create consensus but will also streamline the process towards faster implementation. Through including expert views on various technical aspects of the proposals, from water to public transport to infrastructure capacities, future game sessions will ensure that Khayelitsha’s centre will develop into a vibrant, mixed use, sustainable urban environment that will serve local as well as metropolitan needs.

Play Khayelitsha