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Architecture, planning, sustainability & NDP

Architecture, planning, sustainability & NDP

Aug 4, 2014

By Kathy Gibson at #UIA 2014

As South Africa gears up to roll out the National Development Plan, architecture, town planning and built environment in general need to consider inclusive and sustainable ways to help the NDP drive new investment in the country.

Thuli Nxesa, Minister of Public Works tell the UIA 2014 World Congress of Architecture taking place in Durban this week, points out that the congress has the theme “architecture otherwhere”.

“It seeks to celebrate diversity by exploring other communities, other regions, other disciplines, and other ways of thinking about, practicing and teaching architecture. The intent is to acknowledge the built environment as a major force to improve the quality of life for all people and their communities.”

Rapid urbanisation is one of the challenges facing architects and urban planners in the future, Nxesi says, with the urban population of the world already standing at 50% and set to reach 80% by 2050.

“With urbanisation comes informal settlement and massive pressure on resources. We need to be working together – as architects, planners, governments and the private sector – working with communities to upgrade human settlements and to create safe liveable environments.”
The depletion of natural resources – and water in particular – is another issue that has to be considered, along with environmental degradation and the effects of globalisation on the built environment.

“In order for developing nations, for Sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa to grow and prosper, a paradigm shift in creatively thinking about these and other challenges needs to occur,” Nxesi says.

“From the side of government, these growing challenges demand that we engage with the architects, planners and designers to redefine how we interpret the built environment – and more importantly how that built environment is perceived by the communities who experience it.”
South Africa has committed to the National Development Plan (NDP), which has the National Infrastructure Plan at its heart, with an intention to roll out infrastructure to drive national and regional economic development and job creation. This strategy is concretised in a series of Strategic Infrastructure Projects led by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC).

“At the heart of the infrastructure development programme is the need for specialised built environment skills and expertise necessary to drive the programme,” Nxesi says.

He urges the Congress to reflect on where South Africa is going as a country; and Africa as a continent to realise the kind of built environment we want to create. To this end, he urges delegates to ask the hard questions, including:

  • What are we doing concretely to break down entrenched inequality and segmentation in spatial planning – in the case of South Africa having its roots deep in the history of apartheid and colonialism?
  • What are we doing to humanise the built environment? Beyond economic development, how are we incorporating community, human values and social development into our vision of the built environment?
  • What are we doing to respond creatively to the massive challenges of homelessness and informal settlements – in such a way that we enlist the creativity and initiative of these communities?

 

 

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