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Bridging communities through design

In Cape Town, design is effecting real change.

Faith47, one of South Africa’s most famed contemporary artists, is known for her stunning street murals. Lyall Sprong is one of the founders of the designer-maker consultancy “Thingking” based in Woodstock, and works with industrial materials to give meaning to design and art objects. The two collaborated with the Design Indaba Trust and the organisation Violence Preventing through Urban Upgrading(VPUU), to embark on the project, “Another Light Up.” The endeavour sought to bridge the separate spaces of the Cape Town city centre and Monwabisi Park in the informal settlement of Khayelitsha.

“Another Light Up” brings awareness of this issue to the CBD, while providing citizens with the opportunity to help.  A multi-story piece entitled “The Harvest,” was erected in District Six next to De Waal Drive; Faith47 designed and painted the mural, and ThingKing installed an intricate lighting system on top of the mural’s image. Each time enough funds are raised to build one streetlight on the community pathway, the entire mural lights up for an evening. In addition, any time an individual tweets “#AnotherLightUp,” the mural lights up momentarily.

I visited Lyall Sprong at the ThingKing office in the Woodstock Exchange to learn more about the project and his ideas. Lyall explained:

“There are these nodes outside of the city center with other realities, but we aren’t exposed to them because we don’t have any particular reason to be in these places. The project tries to hold the whole reality of Cape Town.”

We spoke of other ideas for bringing different spheres of the city together, including public transport, and how eliminating the need for cars can allow a diverse range of people to ride in the same form of transport together. Lyall shared innovative ideas for bridging the fragmented communities of Cape Town:

“Think about communicating something about a physical space using another physical space. Imagine a sculpture or structure in a busy part in a square, that has six walls that communicates virtually things that are happening outside of the city. These developments could be positive, such the government committing to working with the community of Princess Vlei to develop the area and in doing so rejecting a long standing application for a mall. So many spaces are covered in advertisements, and we are interested in this whole idea of taking back public space.”

Lyall also sees establishments such as restaurants and bars as prime opportunities for bringing people of different experiences and backgrounds together:

“In reality, these spaces are the closet thing we have to community centers. Small changes can be made to these establishments to acknowledge that they are community spaces.”

Next up for Lyall is a brewery cooperative and bar set to open in Woodstock in the next 4-5 months. He sees the space as a meeting ground for bringing together the different people in his community.

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Lyall Sprong in the ThingKing office at the Woodstock Exchange

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Inside the ThingKing office

 

To learn more about Lyall and ThingKing:

http://www.thingking.co.za

To donate to Another Light Up, please visit:

http://www.anotherlightup.com

 

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Anna Brown

Writer from New York with a passion for all things urban.

  • levi

    beautiful art work i must say but it that really suppose to bring the crime rate down or have any affect in that matter. Come on if you did that artwork downtown or Camps Bay it would serve as a purpose because of its beauty. why not have a art show in these communities to showcase the hidden talent in these high crime areas. don’t you think that showing people that they have a lot more than crime in the communities. i Love my country and wouldn’t mind running it for just one year yes just one year. i hope we get a leader that puts himself last and his country first.