FUTURE CAPE TOWN | Ideas for Cape Town’s communities: From Amsterdam to Cape Town

“The students identified a spatial challenge in the Cape Town metropolitan region and came up with a proposals for tackling these problems”


 Four architecture students from the Academy for Architecture in Amsterdam visited  Cape Flats social and spatial upgrading.

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Four students from the Academy for Architecture students in Amsterdam visited Cape Town under supervision of two lecturers, Jeroen Mensink and Gert Breugem. They were tasked with identifying a spatial challenge in the Cape Town metropolitan region and coming up with a proposals for tackling these problems. During an intensive week they had meetings with local professionals and site visits, the students decided to work on a gradual upgrade of public spaces in disadvantaged areas.

Re-inventing  Apartheid City | Hein Coumou


Hein Coumou proposes a framework for positioning new development along the main roads of the Cape Flats. He turns roads that are currently unsafe because of a lack of interaction between private buildings and public space into a lively street with activity along the main road and eyes on the street for a safer public space. In his proposal buildings’ back sides are turned into front sides and a sidewalk for pedestrians is added. As a case study Coumou took New Elseben Road (image 4), now an undefined empty street. He added mixed use program and introduced a more human scale (with Long Street as an example). Small-scale businesses and the relocation of existing economic activity to a more visible location along this main road, could turn this road into a lively city street over time.

Coumou proposes a strategy to create attractive and lively city streets and connect areas that used to be strictly separated by building a framework of activity routes on the scale of the metropolitan area and densifying the open spaces along these main roads.



Social Housing+ in Khayelitsha | Dennis Meijerink


Dennis Meijerink proposes to combine pedestrian routes and squares with housing that offers room for small scale economic activity as well as gradual upgradings and extensions: Social Housing+. The project consists of a new pedestrian route from the existing VPUU pedestrian network in Khayelitsha to the bridge over the highway M2 and six squares surrounded by housing units with small workshops.

This housing project, rooted in and connected to the urban fabric of pedestrian routes, squares and playgrounds, helps to transform Khayelitsha into a vibrant, safer and more attractive place to live and work. Social Housing+ helps to build a community that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.



Skills Centre, Khayelitsha | Tjeerd Beemsterboer


A huge part of the Cape Town population is in need of a decent house. At the same time the Cape Flats have a large unemployed population, who lack the basic skills to work in the building industry.

Tjeerd Beemsterboer addresses these two issues in the Skills Centre, proposed for a site next to Joe Gcwabi Station and M36 Main Road in Khayelitsha – which is visible and is easy to access by public transport.

Beemsterboer proposes to use the available government subsidy, not for ready-made homes, but rather to offer an opportunity through education, training and material to build your own home. Based on the idea of learning by doing, a two-year course will teach people the skills to build houses. At the end of the first year, every student will help a second year student to build his or her own house. After completing the course, the student will not only have the skills to work for a contractor, but will also have built his or her own house as part of the gradual upgrading of the informal settlements.

With help from the municipality and local businesses people living in informal settlements learn how to build a proper dwelling for themselves in the new Skills Centre. A process of slow, gradual upgrading of informal settlements will be combined with skills development in the population for a job in the construction industry.


Organic market on the Grand Parade | Thom Zijlstra


Thom Zijlstra’s idea for a new market on Grand Parade acts a central place to sell organic vegetables from the Cape Flats and wine from the winelands, providing an income for even more families. The historical, infrastructural and spatial context makes it difficult to find a suitable place and architectural shape for this new program. Removing the stalls from the 80’s opens up the square. An open, transparent structure, referring to the pattern of the brickwork of the castle, marks the space for the new market right in the heart of the historical centre, and frames the view from the Grand Parade towards the castle.

The project would aim to bring people from different backgrounds together; locals and tourists alike. It will improve the public space in front of the castle and the pedestrian flows from the station into the CBD.


  1.  Photos and Renders by Thom Zijlstra, Tjeerd Beemsterboer, Dennis Meijerink and Hein Coumou
  2. Additional Credit: Academy of Architecture, Amsterdam