In April this year we submitted a bid for the project Imagine Princess Vlei to the World Design Capital 2014. The project was short-listed and very well received, but then consideration of the project was withdrawn due to the alleged "legal dispute" concerning the land at Princess Vlei. On March 22, we intend to celebrate this vision in the form of the People's Plan, and present it to the City. Below is an update of developments concerning this project. We recommend also this interview with Ralph Borland.
‘The idea that we could use this neglected space and use it for the benefit of the people who live here I think is an ideal expression of what World Design Capital is all about’ Ralph Borland, Professional designer and WDC curator.
It originated with local community conservationist Kelvin Cochrane, who was instrumental in creating the Bottom Rd Sanctuary on the banks of Zeekovlei. Cochrane entered into an agreement with the City in 2008 to effect a similar transformation of the space at Princess Vlei. He launched a programme called Dressing the Princess, which set out to restore the original vegetation and install the necessary infrastructure to create a nature heritage park. An important aspect of this project was the involvement of local schools in an adopt a plot scheme, where they would do clean ups and plantings
Cochrane’s project was dealt a blow in April 2012, when MEC Anton Bredell approved the rezoning of the area, reviving the development bid.
The Princess Vlei Forum was formed to co-ordinate efforts to stop the mall and protect the vlei. An important part of the Forum’s mission was to deepen and enrich the Cochrane’s vision through a process of community engagement.
In April this year, we submitted a bid for this project to be part of the World Design Capital 2014 programme, under the theme of “bridging the divide”. The project was shortlisted, and listed as one of six that “demonstrates the calibre of projects being sought in the second call for submissions”. (Press Release, Priscilla Urquhart of the Cape Town Design NPC , the implementation company of World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 appointed by the City of Cape Town. )
In January this year, Media manager for World Design Capital 2014, Priscilla Urquhart, said that because of the dispute between the potential developers and the City of Cape Town, Imagine Princess Vlei had been set aside for now.
“It is in the best interests of all parties involved that we rather await the outcome of the dispute. It hasn’t been rejected or even not considered. It’s just being held at the moment.” (Argus, 5the Jan)
We have continued with the project regardless, developing our vision through various ways such as:
- Place-making workshops with different community groups
- Questionnaires and an Online survey
- Interviews with user groups at the vlei
- Hosting a range of events at the vlei which have deepened our understanding of how the Vlei can be used to build community, build bridges, promote a sense of ownership and responsibility; promote environmental awareness; stimulate artistic and cultural activities; promote physical and emotional well-being; harness creativity and vision.
- A number of creative projects engaging with the space including the creation of dream catchers, and a parade involving bird puppets and masks; performance, dance, music, and many others.
- Engaging with professional designers through our World Design Capital subcommittee.
We believe that Imagine Princess Vlei resonates strongly with the goals of the World Design Capital 2014 in that it is a uniquely transformative design project that can use design to build bridges, heal the past and contribute to a sustainable future. We are delighted that this potential has also been recognised by the WDC curators, many of whom have been very encouraging. We hope that some way forward can be found to enable Imagine Princess Vlei to achieve recognition and support so that we can in turn support the worthy intentions and efforts of the WDC2014 intitiative.
We urge the City to lift any obstacles to this recognition. Should the City decided against building the Mall at Princess Vlei, we trust that they will be guided by this vision which has evolved through careful thought and hours of community engagement.
Our WDC 2014 bid may be downloaded below: