Improving urban quality of life


World Design Capital

Cities are always creating solutions, in
fact the real paradox about cities is that problems are constantly arising by
creating more and more solutions! Its
always cyclical.

When we found out that Cape Town was to be the World Design
Capital in 2014 we were moved by the opportunity that this accolade represented
for them to explore and address their social, cultural and economic issues
deeper. The opportunity to improve the lives of those challenged every day in their communities
through design and design thinking, thus breaking some of these cycles.

The City of Cape Town lies at the
southwestern tip of Africa, uniquely nestled between Robben Island and the
majestic Table Mountain range, two national heritage sites. Since the end of
apartheid, this city, now three times the size of New York and home to around
3.6 million people, has undertaken the process of redesigning itself. As South
Africa’s oldest city and having recently hosted the first World Cup on African
soil, Cape Town now has first class infrastructure and a cosmopolitan
lifestyle. With the highest standard of living of all South African cities,
this gateway to the African continent is rich in heritage, innovation,
diversity and creative talent. However the disparity of wealth still prevails
and the deep socio economic problems still haunt the city from the past.

But Cape Town is optimistic.

The overarching theme of ‘Live Design.
Transform Life’ will see the city creating a programme that brings together the
people and the processes; the problems and the solutions; “the gritty and the

More than 400 design-led projects were
selected for recognition in the programme, all of which will now enter a
pitching process over the course of eight pitching sessions, the first of which
begins this week.

Executive Mayor Alderman Patricia de Lille
said the diversity of the final projects reflects the general determination of
all Capetonians to position Cape Town as the design and creative hub of the

“The central thesis of the City of Cape
Town’s approach to the World Design Capital 2014 is to use excellence in
design, to design the change we want to see in our city, using the very
building blocks of which our city is comprised. All of these projects are united
by their use of design and design-led thinking to help us drive the social and
economic change we want and need,” said De Lille.

Projects were submitted across the four WDC 2014

African Innovation. Global

Bridging the Divide

Today for Tomorrow

Beautiful Spaces. Beautiful

The final recognized projects were then re-organised into six clusters to act as
navigational beacons for various audiences. The clusters are:

that gives meaning through fashion, arts, culture, sports and recreation.

that adds value to the economy through innovation, finance, systems and social

Design that focuses on efficiency and resilience related to food, energy, water
and the natural environment.

that elevates communication, transportation and social cohesion.

that shares knowledge through schools, exhibitions and skills development.

that improves health, wellness, housing and urban development.

There are recycling solutions, upcycled
products, hard waste, software, memory projects, public infrastructure, social
cohesion projects, low cost housing, large scale developments, human dignity,
public art, services redesigned, spaces – big and small redefined and redesigned,
heritage tours, urban tours, open streets, open studios. There are examples of
health facilities creating new spaces, new systems and new ways of serving
their audiences. Long-term regeneration projects. There are design
projects around educational spaces and educational methodologies aimed at early
learning, high school and tertiary students; low-cost feature phones and low
energy computers; translation apps, literacy apps, transport apps.

And it is also about incorporating more beauty into the city. Those things we
typically associate with the word ‘design’, like art, objects, food and
wine, whose purpose may solely be to
lift the human spirit.

We’ll be reporting from Cape Town later in
the year to see how some of these projects manifest, and specifically to share
highlights from the Design Indaba Conference at
Cape Town’s international Conference Centre from 26-28 February. Dubbed “the
Conference on Creativity”, Design Indaba speaks about how design,
creativity and innovation can positively impact the world. So much more than a
“how-to” conference, this is a forum fuelled by inspiration that
breeds ideas, ingenuity and innovation for a better future.

By Kim Kalinowski