Exhibition looks to give rise to plans for affordable housing

Reclaim The Citys Tafelberg Challenge exhibition opened at the Cape Institute for Architecture last week.

Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi officially opened their Tafelberg Challenge exhibition at the Cape Institute for Architecture, last week.

The exhibition, which runs until Thursday November 10, invites architects to submit plans for affordable housing at the Sea Point site.

Earlier this year, the Western Cape government committed to conducting a feasibility test for affordable housing on the site. This after activist organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi used a High Court ruling to stall Province’s plan to sell the site.

Ndifuna Ukwazi researcher Julian Sendin said he hoped some of the ideas at the exhibition would be considered by the Western Cape government.

“We did this to stimulate the public’s imagination to what affordable housing can look like in the inner city and to dispel notions that it can’t exist. It was also important to show what could be done when there was full public participation. The idea was to also demystify the way in which the city is designed and built and to bring that to the public,” he said.

The other aim was to reach out to the architecture profession. “We all have blood on our hands in the sense that the city hasn’t changed at all and it’s high time we change that,” said Mr Sendin.

It was not just about the number of houses built by government but their quality and access to economic opportunity, he said.

“We haven’t changed the shape of our society, where we live in relation to each other specifically in terms of race and class groups,” said Mr Sendin. He also believes that many architecture competitions happened in a vacuum but this was something that could change lives.

“If this is shown to be feasible, then we may have an opportunity to change the trajectory of Cape Town’s housing policy and where our cities are going. They aren’t going to a good place, and it feels like a good time to get involved.”

Meanwhile, the sale of the site is on hold until the Western Cape government completes its feasibility study.

Mr Sendin, has criticised the transparency of the study. He said Province had “stonewalled” Ndifuna Ukwazi . “These are pressing issues, and the time for urgency is now. In many ways, this exhibition is the exact mirror opposite to the kind of process that province is doing.”

Michael Mpofu, spokesman for Premier Helen Zille, said: “Our Department of Transport and Public Works, has been working on the financial model, with the input of other organs of state. Once this is finalised, we hope to open it up for public participation relatively soon.”