PRIZES WATTVILLE, JOHANNESBURG
W0734 - HOUSING AND THE PRODUCTIVE LANDSCAPE
HEINRICH WOLFF - JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA THERE is clearly a need in South Africa for townships to become viable participants in totally re-ordered urban structures, for an antidote to be injected into apartheid planning. 'HOUSING AND THE PRODUCTIVE LANDSCAPE' is a legitimate medicine, although there is room for improvement. The design is largely formalist, but is commendable for its clarity and consistency of approach. On the urban design level, the scheme contains numerous possible variations to cope with the different qualities of the site. It proposes a linear development which could grow into a real urban, quality environment. THE scheme represents a big idea and a powerful intervention, aimed at giving the area a regional significance. It transcends simple township intervention and is an important piece of urbanity, with a new identity and a manifestation of which residents can be proud. The playing out of production, trading, ritual, living and public life, along a washing line from which the rest of the urban fabric hangs, is compelling. 'Housing and the productive landscape' grapples with the issue of integrating housing and work within the current system. Integration with the surrounding areas, through the creation of focal elements, has been adequately dealt with. The integration of Wattville and Tamboville by means of an urban strategy is not entirely successful. Nor is the problem of rental housing satisfactorily explored. The idea of clip-on, commercial infrastructure is good, but the jury had doubts about the resultant spatial quality and whether the scale of activity indicated would be realizable. The spatial context identifies closely with the four focal areas, namely storm-water drain, Xaba and Mamkele street intersection, the cemetery and Lake Leeupan. The acknowledgement of the cemetery area, by giving it a park function, is commendable. The scheme recognizes Mamkele Street as a potential activity spine. The landscape is enhanced and the cemetery is highlighted as a public space. Most activity spines grow by accretion over a great many years. This scheme is a significant and valid alternative to that approach through the use of formal programme interventions (rental housing, commercial uses, retailing, agriculture and market-making). This formality is arguably not in itself a device for community participation, but nevertheless the creation of alternative options and lifestyles could contribute significantly to township life. This is one of the most comprehensive designs for Wattville because it addresses environmental issues, not only as a qualitative green layer, but also in terms of economic empowerment through agricultural production and fishing. These are commendable job creation initiatives. THE housing designs in 'Housing and the productive landscape' add character to the area. The scheme attempts to deal with the interface between Tamboville and Wattville and is consistent, sculptural and architectonic. The dwellings seem to give value for money, and have an identity and a uniqueness. The architectural approach is outspoken, but is perhaps too form-driven, formal and rigid. Rental housing is well integrated in this scheme. The jury praised the neutral, flexible system with business accommodation on the ground floor and living areas above. However, the interior space is too rigid and could be more humane. These two functions together form a useful and adaptable structure for open spaces, such as, for example, inner courts which could be either private or semi-private. The basements allow for considerable freedom of use and can be regulated by a co-ordinating 'uses group'. Easy maintenance and sustainability characterize the scheme.