Anele Ndawule

"Eli likhaya lam" [This is my home]: Re-integrating homeless people into society through re-appropriation of public spaces

Abstract

This thesis explores the spatial experiences of homeless people in the City of Cape Town. The city has spatially continued to limit accessibility through controlled spatial approaches (such as hostile architecture) and management of public spaces through by-laws. This study seeks to understand the role of public spaces in terms of spatial injustice and social exclusion of homeless communities. This thesis draws on a range of relationships that needs to be established between the segregated ‘housed’ and ‘unhoused’ communities. 

This project brings forth a different understanding from the current ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of providing housing or shelter for the homeless. Instead, this thesis re-imagines public spaces as ever-changing places where shared occupation, activities and performance determine the success of well-designed spaces. The chosen site for the study is the Cape Town city bowl, with a focus on what I am calling the Buitenkant corridor. Buitenkant is a Dutch word meaning “the outside (of something or someone), the outer surface”. In Cape Town Buitenkant Street defines the edge of the city, but in my thesis it refers to the spatial marginalisation of homeless communities. 

The design proposes opportunities for a diverse range of people to meet a range of needs such as storage, trade, temporary shelter, ablutions, economic opportunities, access to food and skills development. This thesis aims to show that through temporal re-appropriation of space, the reintegration of homeless communities into the society and public spaces can be achieved.