Princess Vlei on Etv

I was interviewed by an Etv news journalist about the campaign to save Princess Vlei from a shopping mall development, and the bid to have plans for a People’s Park on the vlei recognised as a World Design Capital project in 2014. There’s a short article and a video on the ENCA website at the link below:

Dispute halts World Design Capital event
Tuesday 7 January 2014 – 8:17am by Roderick MacLeod

CAPE TOWN – A small vlei on the Cape Flats is again at the centre of controversy.

Developers have been trying in vain for the past 15 years to build a shopping centre on the wetlands.

That dispute has now created another problem… It’s put a project for the prestigious World Design Capital event at risk…

http://mobi.enca.com/south-africa/dispute-halts-world-design-capital-project

City walk

Today I led a group of students on a walking tour taking in examples of public art and design, and other sites of interest in Cape Town. We started the walk with a psychogeographic quote by Michel de Certeau from ‘Writing the City’ in ‘The Practice of Everyday Life’ (1984):

The act of walking is to the urban system what the speech act is to language or to the statements uttered.

The course the students were on is SIT’s IHP Cities in the 21st Century: People, Planning, and Politics, which “examines the intentional and natural forces that guide the development of the world’s cities. It combines an innovative urban studies academic curriculum with fieldwork involving public agencies, planners, elected officials, NGOs, and grassroots groups in important world cities where exciting changes are taking place”.

This is a rough map of the course we took (still struggling with Google’s interface).

And these are some of the sites we visited:

Brett Murray's 'Africa' 2000

Brett Murray’s ‘Africa’ 2000

Cape Craft and Design Institute

Cape Craft and Design Institute curated artworks from the 2010 World Cup

Egon Tania

Egon Tania’s sculptures on Pier Place

Greenpoint Park

Greenpoint Park

John Skotnes

John Skotnes’s sculpture Mythological Landscape (1994) on Thibault Square

The Prestwich Memorial

The Prestwich Memorial

Ox Wagon

The iconic children’s jungle gym in the form of a Voortrekker Wagon, Sea Point

The SA National Gallery

The SA National Gallery

Maze

It’s really not that big!

Manenberg

Mark O’Donovan’s ‘Manenberg’ interactive street sculpture

 

PlayScapes

I’ve been working with the Princess Vlei Forum as part of my postdoc and wider work. The PVF is running a campaign to save a lake and wetland in the Cape Flats from a shopping mall development – they want to keep it public land, and develop it as a ‘people’s park’. As one of the strings to their bow in their campaign to save the Princess, the PVF entered their plans for alternative development on the site to World Design Capital 2014 for recognition – you can download their WDC2014 submission, which has been shortlisted.

As a contribution to imagining what shape some of the elements of the park could take, I worked with design company ThingKing on an entry to the competition PlayScapes in August 2013, commissioned by the Princess Vlei Forum. We developed the idea of four interrelated installations on the site, playing on the idea of the archetypal ‘4 elements’ (air, water, earth, fire). For fire we designed a communal story-telling fire site; for earth a playground incorporating planting; for air a wind-activated sound sculpture and climbing frame; and for water we suggested options from a floating bird habitat island to baptism facilities (church groups use the lake for ceremonies).

WindScape

WindScape – the element of air

You can download a low res version of our competition entry (11 MB).

And you could like our entry on the PlayScapes Facebook page.

Thinking the City

Thinking the City

Oddveig Nicole Sarmiento and Rike Sitas, Jenny Fatou-Mbaye (chairing) during their presentation at ‘Thinking the City’

Last week, from Tues 12 – Fri 15 March, the Public Culture City Lab at ACC, of which I am a part, staged a series of panel discussions around notions of art and culture in public space, and the ‘creative city’. The series, ‘Thinking the City’, was intended to complement the annual event series ‘Infecting the City‘, which hosts creative projects in public space in Cape Town over a week.

Cape Town has a long history of public art and culture, and has more recently embraced the notion of a ‘creative city’. This is an exciting prospect for creative practitioners, yet the question of ‘creative city for whom?’ keeps bubbling to the surface of public debate, as different interest groups lay claim to the creative expression in, and of, public space. Thinking the City will contribute to the Infecting the City programme by unpacking a series of examples and contested territories related to cultural practice in the city, in order to foster a more critical dialogue about creative practice in public space. It will comprise four presentation and discussion sessions.

www.gipca.uct.ac.za/creative-practice-in-public-space-explored-at-thinking-the-city

The panel I contributed to, alongside Jenny Fatou-Mbaye, with Ismail Farouk chairing, was titled ‘Design and the Creative City: the creative city for whom?’. I looked at a number of creative art/design interventions in Cape Town, asking who they catered to, and raised the idea that the terms ‘public’ and ‘community’ can sometimes be in tension with each other in such projects.

GIPCA has uploaded video documentation of the panel, below. Unfortunately my presentation slides are not included in the video, but you could download my presentation as a pdf and view the images along with the video – design and the creative city.pdf

Thinking the City 2013 – Design and the creative city: the creative city for whom? – 13 March 2013 from GIPCA@UCT on Vimeo.

Gentr-o-Mat

A couple of Koln International School of Design (KISD) students were inspired by the short course in ‘Provocative Technology’ I taught there in November 2012 in designing the ‘Gentr-o-Mat’ as an output of their research into gentrification in Berlin. The project is a working vending machine that dispenses a range of products to help people ‘resist gentrification’. The products, such as annoying audio devices, marker pens concealed inside latte cups, and ‘Yves Klein blue’ paint-bombs’, draw on real practices of anti-gentrification activists in Berlin. You can download a rough pdf explaining the project.

There are a some pleasing circularities in the project’s symbolism: while equipping people to resist gentrification, it also hints at the commodification of resistance, echoing the processes by which street art and creative guerilla tactics quickly get mainstreamed and aestheticised – and are often used in the first waves of gentrification.

Provocative Technology at KISD

In November 2012 I taught a short course at the Köln International School of Design (KISD) in which students were asked to research, design and fabricate a prototype for a ‘provocative technology’ – an object or tool which has functions for the user but that also challenges the contexts of its use, and provokes questions and debate in wider audiences.

I came up with the term ‘provocative technology’ around the start of my PhD research to describe work across disciplines that uses the design of functional objects to provoke questions and commentary. I have a post about it here.

You can download my proposal for the class, which roughly represents the outline of the course. I’ll post some documentation of the projects students produced in response asap. So far I have documentation for the projects ‘InstaFRAME’ and TRASH.

A couple of students who weren’t in the class, but attended some of our presentations, were later inspired to design a ‘provocative technology’ as an output of their research into gentrification in Berlin: an anti-gentrification vending machine, the Gentr-o-Mat.

Litres of Light, Metres of Green

Mahala magazine on some design projects in Joe Slovo township, Cape Town.

Our man Bartlett bears witness to the first installation in Africa of ‘a liter of light’ eco-friendly ‘bottle light’ in a sangoma’s shack in Joe Slovo township, Cape Flats, along with the launch of the prototype of vertical gardening as a way to prevent township fires. One small step for greenies, one giant leap for the City of Cape Town? Mahala investigates.

http://www.mahala.co.za/culture/litres-of-light-metres-of-green/

Design by the people

In May of 2012 the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) launched the forum ‘Ukuyila Ngabantu/ Design by the people/ Ontwerp deur die Mense’ in Khayelitsha. In November 2012, in my position as postdoctoral researcher at the African Centre for Cities (ACC), I helped the SJC produce the 5th Annual Irene Grootboom Memorial Series with ‘Design by the People’ as the theme. The series looked provided a forum for leading activists, designers, community leaders, academics and experts to critically engage the concept of design, looking at whether design can be used as an instrument for advancing social justice and reducing urban inequality (especially in regard to Cape Town as World Design Capital 2014). See the schedule for the series on the SJC site, and in short form on the poster below (designed by Michael MacGarry).

Grootboom 2012

Grootboom 2012

Shouting Vase

Another quirky product from Japan, the Shouting Vase. Thanks for the link Elaine!

Shouting Vase

Shouting Vase

Turn your loudest, most urgent frustrations into mere whispers with the Shouting Vase. The plastic jug is designed to fit over the contours of your mouth and absorb your screams and shouts, “storing” them in the vase and emitting a softer version of your angry cries through the tiny hole at the base.

http://www.japantrendshop.com/shouting-vase-holds-your-anger-p-293.html