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Could violent structures work toward apartheid reconciliation?

Published at: 22 July 2015

A proposal by a young Cape Town architect Jaun van Wyk argues the importance of violence and the aestheticisation thereof as “a means of creating an emotional dialogue between architecture and user”.

In his proposal for the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) in Cape Town Van Wyk suggests that, in order for architecture to bridge the divide between inclusive spaces, architects need to turn the visual language of violence into a tool for cohesion. Bleak as the idea may sound, the CSVR itself challenges the notion of ignoring violence and the impact it has on society. The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation is a South African non-governmental organisation concerned with policy and education on issues of political, criminal and domestic violence as a way to ensure that such atrocities never befall the people of this country again.

The proposed site of the new CSVR building is situated on the periphery of the Foreshore area between Cape Town’s CBD and the popular V&A Waterfront. The site, and subsequently the greater Foreshore area has become “a manicured inner city enclave, an authoritarian and urban landscape characterised by social exclusion”, Van Wyk says. He continues, “due to the transformation of urban political priorities from municipal to developers’ utopias, this area has subsequently become the glittering face of Cape Town whilst the reality of communities such as the Cape Flats and its sprawling violence have been shunned from the public facade.”

His wish is that his proposed centre will enable “... voiceless communities to lay claim to lost space and in doing so begin a process by which they contribute to the making of the city”.

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