Creative Ideas for Better Quality of Life

Cape Times (South Africa), April 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Creative Ideas for Better Quality of Life


BYLINE: Jyothi Naidoo

The world Design Capital title is not only about showcasing our unique designs and local creativity to the world, it is also an opportunity to improve the lives of people.

Cape Town is using its World Design Capital status to help residents re-imagine their areas by hosting co-design workshops, covering all 111 wards across the city. But what kind of interventions would give value to every one of these wards?

The answer lay in the development of mechanisms that could help subcouncils and their line department counterparts to engage design and design-led thinking in their planning and spending. Both the city and its residents have a long track record of looking for and implementing creative solutions, especially to social problems. The innovative ways of addressing challenges led to the city earning the title for 2014.

A government needs to juggle what is technically possible with what is economically and socially sustainable. In local government, the core driver for embracing design-led thinking is, and must be, improving quality of life.

The city's theme for WDC 2014, "Live design, Transform Life", focuses strongly on redress projects that will improve the lives of residents. It recognises and calls to action Cape Town's considerable design resources to address the legacies of our city's divided past. It is centred on the themes of rebuilding Cape Town through community unity and reconnecting the city through enhancing infrastructure.

The city's identified projects across the wards have been on the go for a few years now, and by the very nature of the innovativeness, qualify for the WDC stamp of approval. People can use design to change the way they live, the way schools and clinics are built and how and where new development takes place.

Recently the city demonstrated how design and out-of-the-box thinking improved the lives of people staying in the Mshini Wam informal settlement near Milnerton. Residents there realised that, even though there are long waiting lists for housing, they could start improving their environments themselves. Through the NGO, the Community Organisation Resource Centre, a group of 256 families reconfigured their area.

Structures were moved and spaced so streets could be created, improving access for residents, visitors and, most importantly, emergency vehicles. It also facilitates the provision of services such as piped water, flush toilets and prepaid electricity. …

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