SJC To Host Community Caucus for WDC2014

Open Invitation To Interested Stakeholders

Cape Town is a city that remains deeply scarred by centuries of division by design.  During Apartheid, hundreds of thousands of black and coloured citizens were forced out to the City’s periphery into makeshift and underserviced settlements on hostile land. Today almost a million people – roughly a third of the City’s households – reside in informal or inadequate housing[1], cut off from the “city centre” and facing massive service delivery backlogs. Half a million people in the city still do not have access to basic sanitation facilities, thousands of children attend schools with overcrowded classrooms and dysfunctional libraries, hundreds of pre-school daycare centres operate from shacks, thousands loose their homes to fire each year and crime is an ever-present threat due in part to an inherently unsafe urban environment. Addressing these challenges cannot be done by any one stakeholder alone, but requires broad partnership across historical divides.  Design has in the past kept us divided, but it also has the power to unite and improve quality of life.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have launched a global campaign in search of new designs for toilets that are clean, safe, affordable and environmentally friendly.

Cape Town’s nomination as World Design Capital 2014 (WDC2014) is one such opportunity to advance this vision.  The WDC2014 designation is an opportunity designated every two years by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) to cities that are dedicated to using design for social, cultural and economic development.  In bidding for the WDC2014 designation the City of Cape Town undertook to use the year long event to “deal with the vast imbalances that exist in our society”, by focusing on “community cohesion” and “Reconnecting Cape Town through infrastructural enhancement”[2].

The City, as the signatory of the WDC2014 designation, has a great responsibility to ensure that the capital expenditure put towards the designation will result in a sustainable, dignifying and unifying legacy. Given the scale of the responsibility and the possibilities that the designation holds broad-based consultation, inclusivity, and space for constructive critical engagement is required. Government should not determine the outcomes and projects of WDC2014 alone.  It is an opportunity for all to contribute to community cohesion and addressing the current unsustainable levels of inequality in Cape Town.

Ukuyila Ngabantu / Design by the People / Ontwerp deur die Mense

Classroom at Vissershok designed by Tsai Design.

In the build up to 2014 and South Africa’s twentieth year of democracy, the Social Justice Coalition[3] (SJC) has undertaken to facilitate the formation of a civil society caucus, which will not only include communities and grass-roots organisations but will allow its work to beinformed by them – in short, Ukuyila Ngabantu / Design by the People / Ontwerp deur die Mense. The caucus aims to facilitate engagements, productive critical debate and partnerships between architects, designers, artists, engineers, activists, business and communities with the aim of changing the lived urban environment for the betterment of all – but particularly those living on Cape Town’s periphery.

Event Details

The first meeting of the proposed caucus will be held on Saturday 5 May 2012, at the Site C New Hall in Khayelitsha. It is hoped that during this meeting a basic manifesto, informed by communities (in the broadest sense) and membership based organisations, can be formulated and adopted. The adopted manifesto in turn, will hopefully chart a way forward.

DATE:      Saturday 5 May 2012
TIME:      10h00am – 12h30am (light lunch after)
VENUE:   Site C New Hall, Khayelitsha
RSVP: or 0824602093


Directions from Cape Town:


  • Take the N2 towards Somerset-West
  • Take the Mew Way off-ramp
  • At the top of the off-ramp turn right onto Mew Way
  • Turn right at the first set of traffic lights onto Lansdowne Road
  • Drive down Lansdowne Road for about 50 metres (train tracks on your left)
  • Turn right at the first petrol garage on your right
  • Drive past the petrol station – now on your left
  • Site C New Hall will be on your right.


[1] City of Cape Town. Water Services Development Plan for the City of Cape Town 2011/2012 – 2015/16. Pg. 120
[3] The Social Justice Coalition (SJC) is a Cape Town based community movement and research and advocacy group. Based in Khayelitsha, with 1500 active members in eleven branches, over eighty partner organisations, and thousands of supporters, the SJC focuses on improving access to basic services in historically poor and under-developed communities. Through our primary campaign for improved access to sanitation facilities, we work to encourage community participation in government policy formulation, delivery and monitoring. Visit for more information.

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