Interdisciplinary studio: Healing through social justice
The Department of Architecture invited The Centre of Faith and community to guide the honours students in urban design and research. Here is an abstract of the brief posed to the students:
Modern, neoliberal urban neighbourhoods are divided by social displacements, monetary politics and resource corruption that render socio-spatial segregated communities . The spatial planning and architecture is subject to deteriorating infrastructures, homogenous housing schemes and neglected public spaces.
Salvokop is an example of high levels the apartheid city, left in its vulnerability and precarity. At the frontend, city planners envision Salvokop to become the next government district for Thswane. The studio questions whether a neglected city neighbourhood can be revitalised into a vibrant mixed income, mixed user community without the displacement of its people?
Salvokop also offers signs of innovative and resilient responses to urban change, marked by local assets and interventions in the urban fault-lines (De Beer 2014). Through the mediation of healing, restitution and justice, the studio imagines innovative and resilient responses in the form of community plan visions that give way to housing typology schemes.
The backdrop to this project is the twin challenges of healing and justice acting as the cornerstones of the studio. The workshop/imaginarium approach of the studio hopes to engage with typological housing iterations that intervene in the urban fault-lines, showing that life-affirming alternatives to the status quo are indeed possible (De Beer 2020) .
Healing through social justice is a project within the Urban Studio, an action research platform based in the Centre for Faith and Community at the Department of Theology and Religion. The Urban Studio draws its spaces and themes from the city, perceiving it as a classroom for action, reflection, dialogue and research. The Urban Studio explores spatial geographies and cross-sectional urban themes related to street homelessness, inclusive cities and community-based agency (De Beer 2020). The action research approach
requires that the Urban Studio showcase how spaces with high levels of contestation, vulnerability and precarity can be reimagined.
Updates of the studio to follow