Exploring Design towards a Sustainable City: Through the lens of Cape Town as World Design Capital 2014

Naidoo, Marjorie Lanette (2016-03)

Thesis (MPA)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENLISH SUMMARY: This study is an exploration of the relationship between advancing technological revolutions and socio‐metabolic transitions, evolving global design movements, sustainability, and cities, through the lens of Cape Town as World Design Capital (WDC) 2014, making use of a case study methodology. The WDC2014 used the slogan ‘Live Design. Transform Life’. and it will be explored what contributed towards this approach and whether this approach, focussing on social inclusion and economic development, contributed towards sustainability. A survey of the main categories of design – product, communications, spatial, service, systems, and socio‐political design, as well as the historic design movements coupled to the five technological revolutions ‐ reveals that Design has frequently been enlisted in the service of different ideologies, such as Imperialism, Modernism, Consumerism, and Neoliberalism. The outcomes of the design industry, therefore, have significant ethical implications. In addition, intimate interaction exists between Design and its surrounding socio‐political‐economic context. Upon examining the evolution in the design of cities, these same observations are evident. An examination of the sustainability challenges of cities – environmental, social and economic – reveals that Design has often not contributed to sustainability, but has rather been a handmaiden towards social inequity and polarisation, and ecological damage and loss. Eight ‘Design Cities’ and 3 World Design Capitals are studied, to identify those factors that attracted design activity and expression, their design contribution, their outcomes and legacy. More recently there is a trend to apply Design in service of human‐centeredness and sustainability, but in the case of cities it is particularly apparent that there is strong pull of forces between such a sense of conscience (people and planet), and the quest to establish a city as a centre of power, attracting investment, trade, tourism, and the Creative Class, as well as applying technology to the management and identity of cities. Considering Cape Town as a case study reveals that the city bears the imprint and the unsustainable consequences of many of the design movements and their linked ideologies ‐ in its segregated urban form, splintered social construct, and environmental challenges. Some of these outcomes are wicked problems, which City Management is attempting to redress, but within the ambit of Neoliberalism (thus addressing the symptoms, while the real problem continues unrestrained). Cape Town’s design community, perhaps 2 percent of the city population, is profiled, as well as the city’s Bid for, the rollout, and outcomes of World Design Capital. While Cape Town’s socio‐spatial challenges were reflected in the Bid, very little of ecological challenges were mentioned. A good citizen response and meaningful City projects and Ward co‐design workshops reflected a shift from 20th Century indulgent design to 21st Century responsible design – a significant year‐long intervention, which contributed in measure to a greater appreciation and awareness of the valuable contribution that Design could make. However, for design to fundamentally address unsustainability in this city, an activist Sustainability Design Movement is needed, taking full cognisance of the three spheres of sustainability. Viewing Cape Town through the lens of the long‐wave technological and socio‐metabolic cycles, and unfolding design movements, assists in understanding the city and the WDC’s intervention and approach to its present state. It is also a useful lens through which to interpret its future trajectory.

AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie is 'n verkenning van die verhouding tussen die ontwikkelende tegnologiese revolusies en sosio‐metaboliese siklusse, veranderende globale ontwerpbewegings, volhoubaarheid, en stede , deur die lens van Kaapstad as Wêreld Ontwerp Hoofstad (‘World Design Capital’ ‐ WDC) 2014, deur gebruik te maak van 'n gevallestudie. Die WDC2014 het as slagspreuk ‘Lewe Ontwerp. Transformeer Lewe’ (‘Live Design. Transform Life.’) gehad, en ondersoek sal ingestel word na wat tot hierdie benadering bygedra het en of hierdie benadering, met die fokus op sosiale insluiting en ekonomiese ontwikkeling, bygedra het tot volhoubaarheid. 'n Ondersoek na die belangrikste kategorieë van ontwerp ‐ produk, kommunikasie, ruimtelike, diens, stelsels, en sosio‐politieke ontwerp, sowel as die historiese ontwerpbewegings gekoppel aan die vyf tegnologiese revolusies ‐ onthul dat Ontwerp dikwels ingespan is in diens van verskillende ideologieë, soos Imperialisme, Modernisme, Konsumentisme (‘Consumerism’) en Neoliberalisme. Die uitkoms van Ontwerp het dus beduidende etiese implikasies. Daar is ook ‘n intieme interaksie tussen ontwerp en die omliggende sosio‐politieke‐ekonomiese konteks. Dieselfde geld vir die evolusie in die ontwerp van stede. 'n Ondersoek na die uitdagings vir volhoubaarheid in stede ‐ ekologies, maatskaplik, en ekonomies ‐ toon dat Ontwerp dikwels nie bygedra het tot volhoubaarheid nie, maar eerder 'n diensmaagd was vir sosiale ongelykheid en polarisasie, en ekologiese skade en verlies. Agt Ontwerp Stede (‘Design Cities’) en 3 Wêreld Ontwerp Hoofstede (‘World Design Capitals’) word bestudeer, om die faktore wat die ontwerp‐aktiwiteite, ‐bydrae, en ‐gevolge beinvoed het, te identifiseer. Meer onlangs is daar 'n tendens om Ontwerp toe te pas in diens van mens‐gesentreerdheid en volhoubaarheid, maar in die geval van stede is dit veral duidelik dat daar 'n sterk stryd van kragte bestaan, tussen die gewete (mense en die planeet), en die dringendheid om 'n stad te vestig as 'n lokus van invloed (wat belegging, handel, toerisme en die ‘Kreatiewe Klas’ kan lok), sowel as die toepassing van tegnologie in die bestuur en identiteit van stede. Wanneer Kaapstad as 'n gevallestudie oorweeg word, word dit duidelik dat die stad die onvolhoubare gevolge dra van baie van die ontwerpbewegings en ooreenstemmende ideologieë ‐ in sy gesegregeerde stedelike vorm, versplinterde sosiale konstruk, en omgewingsprobleme. Sommige van hierdie gevolge is goddelose probleme (‘wicked problems’), wat die stadsadministrasie poog om reg te stel, maar binne die bestek van Neoliberalisme (die simptome word aangespreek, terwyl die werklike probleem ongebreideld voortduur). Kaapstad se ontwerp gemeenskap, miskien 2 persent van die bevolking, word beskryf, asook die stad se bod vir ‘World Design Capital’, die program en resultate. Terwyl sosio‐ruimtelike uitdagings weerspieël is in Kaapstad se bod, word min aandag aan ekologiese uitdagings bestee. 'n Goeie reaksie van stadsburgers, betekenisvolle stadsprojekte en stads‐wyk mede‐ontwerp werkswinkels, weerspieël 'n verskuiwing van 20ste eeu genotsigtige ontwerp, na 21ste eeu verantwoordelike ontwerp ‐ 'n beduidende jaar‐lange ingryping, wat tog bygedra het tot 'n groter waardering en bewustheid van die waardevolle bydrae wat Ontwerp kan lewer. Vir Ontwerp om egter die fundamentele onvolhoubaarheid in hierdie stad aan te spreek, is 'n aktivistiese Volhoubare Ontwerpsbeweging nodig, wat die drie sfere van volhoubaarheid skerp in fokus hou. Deur Kaapstad deur die lens van lang‐golf tegnologiese en sosio‐metaboliese siklusse, en ontwikkelende ontwerpbewegings, te besigtig, bevorder ‘n begrip van die stad en die intervensie en benadering van WDC 2014 tot die stad se huidige stand. Dit is ook 'n nuttige lens waardeur die stad se toekomstige trajek interpreteer kan word.

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