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2017 Darling, South Africa

Darling Intercultural Space design

"[...] there are no 'answers' in urban planning, but if we ask the right questions we may get better ideas on how to approach the challenges we face in 'managing our co-existence in shared space'" (Julian Agyeman)

Darling is a small rural community in the beautiful Western Cape, approximately a one hour drive from Cape Town. The place has several natural and cultural amenities that make it stand out among peer rural towns in the area. Nevertheless, at a second glance, Darling could also be considered as a microcosm, representing some of the pressing social issues of contemporary South Africa. Spatial and etnic segregation is by far the most visible and urgent vulnerability, presenting a major challenge for generations to come, to overcome the negative effects such as unemployment, health issues and crime.

Darling Intercultural Space is designed as a collaborative program for master students and research staff from Fontys / Stadslab and Cape (CPUT) to engage in a meaningful exchange with local authorities and residents, to address the urgancy and potential of designing for intercultural exchange. The program is supported by Swartland municipality and will be linked to a regional socio-economic upgrading program (RSEP). The objective is to design and execute interventions in public space, over a two to three year program, ultimately contributing to darling's socio-economic, environmental and cultural agendas. The Fontys-CPUT collaboration is devised as a series of workshops, following a design thinking approach, in which we will gradually move from understanding to create and deliver, ultimately leading to a co-creative process to actually built an urban intervention.

Workshop (October 14-21, 2017)

An international group of 10 participants (5 Fontys / 5 CPUT) visited Darling in October and engaged in a first, 'ideation' workshop. The objective was to truly grasp the nature of the issues that we are addressing while studying public space, and come up with multiple directions for solutions. Through a serious investment in understanding the context and local needs, the team defined some key problems and motivated a range of solutions that address the issues in a 'designerly' way. At this stage we didn't go too deep into design solution, rather presented the community and other key stakeholders with a variety of directions and devise a mechanism for them to participate in the selection process. A follow up workshop will be planned in February 2018, during which a new team will develop some of the most viable proposals from workshop I.