The Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA), this past weekend hosted the South African City Futures (SACF) team to facilitate two experimental workshops with citizens from the Port Elizabeth neighbourhoods of Korsten – Schauderville. These workshops formed part of a larger process, involving three neighbourhoods in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town.
The City Futures project aims to confront the current challenges facing planning in South Africa by re-looking the way neighbourhoods are planned. A central idea of this experiment is getting the voices (narrative) of citizens to talk more directly to larger planning processes allowing citizens greater influence over the future of the neighbourhoods they reside in. In order to realise this, a process (methodology) was devised to bring together these voices and combine it with the bigger planning ideas (scientific data) as well as the specific character of the neighborhood (urban form).
Through a two-day workshop, participants were involved in sharing the good, bad and ugly of their neighbourhoods. This involved walking the streets, documenting stories and experiences through body maps, using songs to get ‘feel’ of the spaces. Using more traditional and futuristic planning tools, these experiences formed the basis on imagining what the future of Korsten-Schauderville could be. A range of project options where then physically built by the participants and laid out on a large model for further review. After detailed discussions and negotiations the numerous projects were reduced to a series of project priorities which could be taken further for consideration