Void Infrastructures – Repairing the Misanthropic Urbanism of Cape Town

For some people, Cape Town represents a paradise. For others, it is a space of marginalisation. In the hearts of many of its residents, the natural and the urban worlds are conglomerated with a series of voids. Rather than empty spaces of nothingness, these voids are residues of acidic interventions into the material and immaterial infrastructures of the city. People, infrastructures, and opportunities were removed by acts of spatial violence to create the racialised and monopolised urbanity of the contemporary city.

Conceptually we will explore the urban void as a presence, as a manifestation of a spatial and social imaginary. We will confront the tendency to camouflage the void as natural or as vacuum without residue. The production of void infrastructures in Cape Town will be studied to develop a theory about the uneven texture of the city, the distortion of the landscape, and the advancement of inequity.

This option studio will consider:

  • the instrumental and misanthropic purposes of dissolving urban networks
  • the capacity of void infrastructures to outlast the politics that brought them about and how denials of their presence help to maintain their effects
  • appropriate acts of repair that will have the speed and consequences required to address the social disasters that brought the voids into being

The main studio project proposes the rapid urbanisation of two idyllic golf courses located close the city centre. Far from an imagined scenario, this project is a contemporary appeal made by marginalised people to the City of Cape Town, the current land owner. In the face of a housing crisis and the ongoing denial of the entitlements that people have to land and urban opportunities, land invasions occur regularly. Rapid urbanisation is advanced by citizens building the city for themselves. This project scenario will explore what contribution the theoretical knowledge and experienced engagement of spatial practitioners can make to facilitate rapid urbanisation and urban land justice.