The Princess Vlei Co-design workshop was made possible by the voluntary facilitation of Zaylia Foster and Graham Falken of ZAG Consultants. This talented team ran several similar workshops for the City of Cape Town as part of World Design Capital 2014.
The transformation of Princess Vlei began some years ago with Kelvin Cochran’s People’s Plan. This plan was discussed and deepened through several community workshops and surveys conducted by the Princess Vlei Forum. Ideas were collated in a document called the People’s Vision, which was presented to the City in 2014. The City has since drawn up a Concept Development Framework, which was finalized after a further process of community consultation.
We now are in the process of refining the community’s ideas into workable designs. The co-design workshop is an important step in this process, enabling people to work with designers in developing workable concepts.
The workshop began with an invitation to people to share their stories about Princess Vlei. There was a rich sharing of anecdotes – some hair-raising, such as the story of the headless corps in a suitcase, there were tales of a huge likkewaan (Leguan) which gave rise to stories of a water monster, the legend of the Khoe Princess who wept, as well as many happy memories of playing as children and picnicking with families. The richness of the stories well illustrate the vlei’s complex history, and its wealth as a repository of memory and culture.
The stories were used to identify some of the problems and opportunities at Princess Vlei, summarised below:
- The Vlei should be multipurpose, serving as a “Place of gathering” for families, education, braai, faith activities, diverse interests and reasons
- Space dedicated to religious, spiritual and cultural ceremonies
- Rehabilitating to promote indigenous plant and animal life
- Representing indigenous stories and history, such as the legend of the Khoe princess through renaming, signage, museums, healing herb garden etc
- Local market
- Adventure and sporting events such as, scout competitions, rafts. Fishing
- Structure to function as an information, educational and heritage centre, and facilitate youth involvement.
- Play park
- Walkway for walking, jogging and cycling,
- Clean /unpolluted water
- Floating structures on the water
- Skate boarding park