PRIZES CATO MANOR, DURBAN
C9705 - URBAN GENERATOR
BARBARA SOUTHWORTH, SUZANNE DU TOIT, JOANNE LEES, THERESA GORDAN - CAPE TOWN AND DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA OF all the entries for the competition, this was the only one to fully recognize that the housing problem in South Africa is not only about shelter, but is also about the creation of highly livable, total living environments. The jury was unanimous in awarding first prize to this scheme, for its completeness at every level, its rich urbanity, public life, awakening of place and diversity of choice. The project responds to all the main requirements of the brief, including the issues of housing and urbanity in South Africa, in a comprehensive, systematic and logical way. Compared to the other Cato Manor proposals, it shows a qualitative understanding of the scale of the site and is not subject to a fixed time frame. THE consistency with which this sophisticated submission has been thought through is remarkable, from concept right through to framework, making it an appealing, lucid and highly resolved scheme. The clarity of its argument is exemplary and directly challenges the existing programme-driven approaches in South Africa. The designers are aware of the pitfalls of one-off, predetermined solutions. 'Urban Generator' is non-programmatic and is spatially-driven. Consequently, the scheme is highly convincing. The spatial organization is complex and rich. It is a plan which could incorporate other Cato Manor plans, making it possible for us to believe in 'a city of a thousand designers'. 'Urban Generator' links in well with the surrounding context and deals clearly with the site's various levels of scale (metropolitan, urban, local, unit). The design uses a flexible grid system, creating a wide variety of urban spaces which are related to essential urban functions, their facilities and hierarchy. The scheme contains an adequate structure for land use and an infrastructure which could form a useful framework for later developments, thereby guaranteeing a comprehensible hierarchy of open spaces and building masses over a long period of time. Further analysis of the scheme on the next level of scale reveals great intellectual understanding of neighbourhood, housing design and flexibility, without being fashionable or dogmatic.THE project's framework is capable of accommodating many details, as well as growth and natural evolution over time. It has dealt with the reality of the time frame necessary in order to achieve the final vision by opening, ordering and structuring elements in such a way that a sense of quality is apparent from the outset. 'Urban Generator' is sensitive to the context and allows for flexibility and future growth. It has a quality which can give residents self-esteem, pride and a sense of responsibility, and can provide for community ownership. 'Urban Generator' shows a thorough understanding of policy, constraints and reality and also meets the brief in terms of institutional arrangements, right down to the neighbourhood scale. At the level of the financial system, the design types proposed are realistic and are in accordance with the subsidy scheme provided by the South African government. This entry has the potential to provide enormous variety in respect to unit type, site, means of access (e.g. pedestrian) and street edge. It densifies the city, and is closer to a dense city than Durbanites perhaps anticipate. 'Urban Generator' also accommodates mixed use and addresses public facilities. Ideas such as these should be advocated there where rich, affordable, realizable urban environments are needed and the plan should form a prototype for development in South Africa. 'Urban Generator' is the sought-after 'generator', providing the most appropriate answers to the key questions of the Housing Generator competition. The jury is of the opinion that 'Urban Generator' should be implemented and that the authorities concerned with the development of Cato Manor can, with confidence, commence execution of this scheme immediately.