Synthesizing architecture and informality : the influence of informality in creating a responsive architecture towards the design of a resilience hub for the community of the Quarry Road informal settlement.
Hoosen Shaikjee, Mohammed Ameen.
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The world is currently facing rapid urbanization with the largest number of people moving from rural areas and countrysides to urban cores. This holds especially true in South Africa. However, as a result of a history of injustices and segregation perpetuated by apartheid and colonialism, a large portion of the South African population remains marginalised even today and occupy the left over space on the frays of cities in informal settlements, enduring poverty and exceedingly hazardous environments. Durban, the location of this study, has nearly a quarter of its inhabitants living in informal settlements (Informalcity, 2012). In a context where these informal settlement communities have become insurgent and have begun to fight for their “right to the city” and a better quality of life, the authorities have been coerced to change their policies on informal settlements and to seek a route towards their normalization as part of South African cities. It is in this context that architecture ought to revaluate its role in responding to the plight of informal settlement communities and to respond to Holston’s (in Bremner, 2010) call for a reinvention of modernist architecture’s social imperatives in these insurgent spaces. The aim of this dissertation is to explore how informality and the culture of informal settlement communities can inform architecture as a means of creating better and more responsive architectural interventions to the issues faced by communities within informal settlements. It hypothesizes that a synthesis of the architecture and informality; through an understanding of the existing socio-spatial dynamics, culture, economic networks, insurgent practices and approach to the production of built form of informal settlement communities; can produce a more responsive architecture capable of increasing informal settlement communities’ resilience to site specific challenges, improve their quality of life and ultimately aid them towards their hopes and aspirations. The literature, precedents and case studies on the subject assist in developing an understanding of the context of urban informality, the lifestyle and daily plight of the informal settlement dweller, as well as approaches towards ameliorating the challenges these communities face through a synthesis of formal and informal processes. Theories such as Culture and Identity, Insurgency and Informality provide insight into the daily life of informal settlements. Critical Regionalism begins to look at a more responsive architectural approach towards the informal, characterised by informal influences. The outcome of the architectural approach developed in this dissertation will be the conceptualization of a Resilience Hub for the Quarry Road West informal settlement community with the aim of responding to and ameliorating site specific challenges the community faces on a daily basis and ultimately improving their quality of life.