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The rejuvenation of the Black River riverfront through the lens of the hydrosocial cycle, Cape Town

Kimeshni Manikam

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The Black River riverfront has been significantly ignored and its function does not best serve those who live alongside it, nor is its ecological function enhanced or supported. This dissertation seeks to uncover what factors contributed to this and how this narrative could be changed for the positive through the lens of the hydrosocial cycle. The main area of interest is the Oude Molen Eco Village (OMEV) which is a vibrant and close-knit community which was born as a result of a group of proactive social entrepreneurs.

The hydrosocial cycle is used as a tool to bridge the disconnect between the Black River riverfront and OMEV as it stems from the premise that water and society make and remake each other over space and time. Thus it could be extrapolated that water internalizes social relations and politics making the hydrosocial cycle a socio-natural process.

Additionally, Culturally Inclusive Water Urban Design (CIWUD) which builds on from the principles of the hydrosocial cycle and includes understanding "shadow waters" in which certain waters are privileged and others ignored and marginalised. This can be used as a tool to design a waterscape along the Black River that is sensitive to the cultural connections that tie people to the riverfront. 

In bridging the "hydro" and the "social" aspects existing in OMEV and the Black River riverfront, the main themes explored are the educational, spiritual and ecological processes. These themes have helped shape the framework and design of the site.

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