Researchers: Liza Rose Cirolia, Nobukhosi Ngwenya, Warren Smit
Description of work
City-wide human settlements transformation processes
Building on the findings of ACC’s Sustainable Human Settlements CityLab, we will focus on the key, interconnected city-wide and state-led drivers of human settlements development. The first is the human settlements programme, a large-scale programme to deliver subsidised houses to low-income households, which is a key plank in South Africa’s developmental government narrative. The development of large scale housing projects has fundamentally shaped Cape Town, with long term fiscal, social, material, and physical implications. The second area of work is around the ways in which public finance shapes the city. The fiscal logics which underpin revenue and expenditure, assets and liabilities, shape the uneven investment in the city, across departments, sectors, and areas. Thus, we are interested in how these city-wide processes land in space unevenly across the city.
Bottom-up human settlements transformation processes
We are equally interested in the ways in which localized processes have the potential for wider urban and catalytic significance. Therefore, in parallel to unpacking the abovementioned state driven processes, we will explore the ways in which vacant/underutilized land and underutilized social infrastructure (such as parks, playgrounds, school sites, etc.) are repurposed, retrofitted and appropriated to respond to the various and conflicting needs of people and places, and how these processes shape localized and city-wide discourses/practices/ policy on spatial transformation, human settlements, and public investment. There are two areas where we will focus. The first is on the occupation of land for the purpose of housing. Small scale occupations are an important force shaping human settlements in the city. The second focus area will be on the retrofit of existing social infrastructure (parks, schools, etc.) for them to better serve the local neighbourhoods.
Through this research, we aim to bring the city-wide processes, localized interventions, and discursive formations into conversation with one and other. We hope to identify where there are contradictions, alignments, and conflicts between them. In so doing, we aim to explore concepts of the city as a palimpsest materially and discursively created over time, how the different stakeholders involved in these processes often have severely conflicting rationalities, and how processes of insurgent planning and radical incrementalism are increasingly important in challenging the status quo. Through this, we aim to help contribute to socio-spatial transformation and the realisation of sustainable human settlements in Cape Town (and other cities of the global South).
Objectives and research aims:
- Understand the city-wide drivers of human settlements outcomes in the city, with particular attention to human settlements policy/programmes and fiscal logics of local government.
- Understand the localized practices which shape human settlements in the city, with particular attention to land occupation and the retrofit of public infrastructure.
- Identify how city-wide and localized processes interact with one and other. For example, we aim to identify where and how they align, conflict, ignore each other, and the implications of this for developing sustainable human settlements. In addition aim to examine the commonalities, differences and gaps (silences) among the discourses and the implications thereof on policy and praxis within the human settlements sector of Cape Town.
- Understand how discourse and debate on human settlements issues in Cape Town (for example, in newspapers, TV, radio, social media) shapes and are shaped by the key processes mentioned above.
- Work with stakeholders in Cape Town to identify ways to overcome current fractured and contradictory processes of socio-spatial processes and work towards more integrated and collaborative processes that will help realise sustainable human settlements.