Play Cape Town, 2015

A 'negotiation game' designed to help implement an existing masterplan developed for the center of South Africa's second-largest township, Khayelitsha.

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purpose: Consensus building for upgrading the CDB development plan between the land management organization Khayeltitsha Community Trust and the City of Cape Town, Department of Spatial Planning and Urban Design

partners: Acturban

client: Khayeltitsha Community Trust

engagement: 50 stakeholders

project duration: February-December 2015

 

Urban Challenge

With almost 15,000 commuters boarding the train from Khayelitsha station every day, the future development of this strategic center is a crucial discussion. Play Khayelitsha focuses on facilitating this discussion in a collaborative way, working on how to capitalize on the strategic location of the site while at the same time provide a safer, pedestrian-friendly environment.

On the 20th of November 2015 the first session of the Play Khayelitsha city-gaming series took place at the Zenzele Training Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. Created as an interactive city game to help stakeholders prioritize 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 that of city-gaming, working towards a shared vision, is a conscious choice given the range of stakeholders and interested parties involved with the future growth of the area.

 

Process

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. As a starting point each player was asked to voice their main urgency in relation to the development of the area. Issues such as safety, quality of public spaces, improved play areas for children and pedestrian-friendly environments were voiced repeatedly by local community representatives. Urgencies like 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.

 

Project Results

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

With these positive urban agendas as the backdrop for game play, the teams were asked to each focus on a specific precinct within the KBD. Teams had to consider how they could re-imagine 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?

After 30 minutes of game play each team had an opportunity to share their ideas with the rest of the room. Below is a summary of the key outcomes from each precinct discussion:

Precinct 1

Team 1 focused on the western forecourt area around the existing mall and had ideas about incorporating business incubation spaces for local start-up projects and companies. Recreation spaces, a recycling center and modern ideas around payment to reduce vulnerabilities were also conceptualized to diversify the mall area.

The role of the train station and the location of the new bus stop was emphasized as an important spatial consideration to create optimal access and linkages between the two modes of transport.

Precinct 2

This team saw the potential of incorporating housing opportunities close to the train station in a high-rise office and commercial environment, with a 24 hour shop, craft markets, creative working spaces and a public environment where workers can relax during office hours. Pre-planning of this area must consider long-term infrastructure capacity that is able to support 8 storey buildings.

Precincts 3 & 4

Players saw potentials in improving the existing open space within this entry area into the KBD through improving pedestrian movements and links to the commercial and sporting areas.

Precinct 5

This area, where the extension to the existing mall is currently planned, needs to increase density and include commercial activity. Players voiced a need for a more mixed-use environment. The technical advisors confirmed that infrastructure needs to be linked to the investment potential, and that we should not be limited by the current capacities. The relocation of the taxi rank was also mentioned to potentially create more space for retail in this area.

Precinct 6

The current spatial framework prioritizes this precinct as the primary mixed-use area. Players were happy with the proposed layout but suggested an increase in bulk as well as the incorporation of social infrastructure. More restaurants, studio offices and smaller specialized shops were placed on the game table. The location of parking spaces was also voiced as a crucial element to the development of this area, as too much parking in the public courtyards and public spaces will sterilize the area into a car-orientated development.

Precinct 7

Players voiced a strong concern for the need to diversify the range of sporting activities that this precinct must offer. Facilities such as a skate park, cycling tracks or basketball courts were proposed to attract more youth. Seating and game watching pavilions can be integrated with informal food and leisure spaces. A state-of-the-art sport science center and academy was proposed to create increased demand and investor attraction.

Precincts 8 & 9

Players voiced a need for quality public spaces with trees and benches, braai areas and safe walkways between the housing areas. Tuck shops, creative labs, a college, multipurpose centers and a theatre for showcasing local talent were all incorporated into the development to create a more mixed, 24 hour lively and vibrant residential environment with a focus on culture and creativity.

Precinct 10

A demand for different housing typologies was supported through reorganizing the currently proposed duplex housing and apartment blocks into a more diverse and integrated manner. Home co-working offices were proposed, as well as the urgency for a wifi tower and internet cafes to support this.

Precinct 11

This team wanted to see an increase in the surrounding housing densities to create a safer open green environment. Similar to precinct 7, a market space and more local, informal trading areas were requested. Questions around the demand for more sports fields and the required governance models were discussed.

Precinct 12

Also part of the proposed mixed-use heart of the center, high density commercial spaces with flats above was the preferred model here. Discussions focused around renewed management models to create a sense of ownership, sustainable funding models and the application of housing subsidies based on the targeted end-user (families, young professionals). Urban farming was also proposed.

Precincts 13 & 14

This residential area needs to include higher density along Walter Sisulu road while also incorporating a pre-school, church, urban agriculture and small-scale social activities to diversify the area. Urban agriculture and the idea of a “green belt” were also proposed.

Precinct 15

The proposed office park must include creative work spaces and an incubator program for informal markets. This team emphasized the opportunities to create a green office development with vertical farming, renewable energies, internal composting units and indoor local produce markets. The space should include residential areas with a flexibility to reuse buildings for alternative uses. Live-work areas need to be well designed to not create unattractive business environments, but ones that supports small start-ups and home businesses and entrepreneurs.

 

Priorities

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 prioritization. Below is the list of 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 pushed for this area to receive primary investment. Players emphasized 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 fora mixed use environment through small-scale retail incorporated throughout the site. This was supported by many players for social and 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 center needs a university or college to diminish the need for long distance travel.

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

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

 

Next Steps

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 center 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. Other possible future sessions include:

• A housing typologies session to explore the changing demands and needs of the community, as a market research and design tool.

• An investment attraction session with potential developers and investors to create awareness, present possible marketing opportunities and highlight future projects such as the mixed-used zone or sport precinct.

• Precinct specific sessions, such as a session on detailing the sports precinct with the aim of integrating community initiatives and the local demand for informal street sports while supporting retail facilities.
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 center will develop into a vibrant, mixed-use, sustainable urban environment that will serve local as well as metropolitan needs.