The effects of prevailing attitudes to informal settlements on housing delivery in Cape Town
Informal settlements are increasing in the cities of the global South in line with the rapid rate of urbanisation that is taking place in countries of this region. The growth of informal settlements in these countries has been exacerbated by factors that are unique to this region, factors such as scarcity of resources, colonial legacies and rapid urbanisation. Cape Town, a city that relates to the global South both in terms of geographical location and socio-economic context, has also seen a rapid growth of informal settlements, particularly in the last two decades. Like other cities in this region, Cape Town has ambitions of being regarded as a global city. Global cities are modelled on cities of the global North such as London, New York and Tokyo. Beyond the economic prestige that is generally associated with the cities of the global North, the imagery that they conjure up is also seen as an inspiration to be emulated by cities across the world, and it does not include informal settlements. As such, informal settlements generate a host of attitudes. Attitudes towards informal settlements don’t just emanate from political authorities, but emanate from across the spectrum that constitutes inhabitants and interest groups in these cities, including the creators of informal settlements themselves. These individuals and interests, according to their social standing and thus influence, have varying degrees of agency in the matters related to informal settlements. The aim in this study is to probe the effect of these attitudes on housing delivery to the poor. Attitudes not only influence the choice of what is regarded as the norm, but also how any entity that is regarded as the ‘other’ is evaluated. Almost without exception, cities that have been characterised by large numbers of informal settlements have attempted, without success, to eradicate informal settlements from their urban fabrics. An overarching assumption in this study is that the resilience of informal settlements says something about their necessity, and the failure by some, to recognise this necessity or the utilitarian value of informal settlements is influenced by attitudes. This research is done by first using a literature review to elucidate on: • the social condition, that is, the phenomenon of informal settlements, • the relevant theories applicable to the academic field the thesis is anchored in (architecture) and other social orders impacting architecture such as modernism, • the construct of attitudes and its impacts on beliefs, evaluations and perceptions on the affect of objects. The Joe Slovo informal settlement is then used as an analytic case study to investigate the effects of attitudes on the dynamics that have seen the site being transformed into what had been conceived as a prototype for transforming informal settlements to formal housing. The study shows that such transformations, although often carried out in the name of changing the lives of the inhabitants of informal settlements, do not necessarily entail them remaining at the site post its transformation. In the case of Joe Slovo, it actually resulted in a sizeable number of the original inhabitants being relocated to a new, less favourable site.
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