The Your City Idea voting installation recently popped up at the MyCiTi Civic Centre Bus Station on 11 and 12 February 2013, in collaboration with the City of Cape Town and the MyCiTi bus system team. The initiative was an opportunity for citizens of Cape Town to vote on urban issues that were pertinent to the future of their city.
MyCiTi bus commuters were greeted with a bright yellow structure in the centre of the inner station forecourt. The box contained a display of two questions, each with four visual options and included a slot, much like a ballot box, where they could insert their choice.
The first question asked voters about what their future community would look like. The voters could choose between: an informal city, suburban meets the city, suburbia and a compact city. The second question asked voters to vote for one of 4 options for the future of the Foreshore freeways namely: demolition, activating the spaces below, constructing a museum on unused portions and creating a public walkway, much like the New York highline.
For Question 1, In your Future Cape Town, our communities look like?, the results were as follows:
- 9% – The Informal City: The notion that the the informal city is not the opposite of a formal city but rather viewed as a city in formation — one that is formed by the people.
- 19% – The Compact City: Comprising medium to high-rise housing blocks located in the centre or within close proximity of the city. It is typically characterised by a high density and smaller living space, is closer to public transport nodes and more reliant on public spaces, and family and car “unfriendly”.
- 25% – Suburbia — The American Dream: A residential district situated on the outskirts of the city centre — typified by white picket fences, large driveways, spacious backyards, gardens and trees — a “car-friendly” and safe environment.
- 47% – Suburban Meets the City: A mixed-use development, including apartments, offices and retail spaces connected by a continuous promenade.
For Question 2, In your Future Cape Town, the Foreshore freeways look like?, the results were as follows:
- 14% – Activate the Space: The intention is to bring life to the space by adding colour and fostering vibrant activity to the hostile environment below the freeway.
- 24% – New Museum: The freeway becomes a usable and iconic landmark for the city — a potential gateway into Cape Town. This could also be a panoramic amphitheatre with Table Mountain providing a scenic backdrop or a museum of City Planning and Transport.
- 27% – Freeways for People: To remove all cars from the freeway and convert it into a green and and landscaped public space for cyclists and pedestrians in the heart of the city.
- 35% – Demolish and Reconnect: Rather demolish the freeway and reconnect the city centre with the harbour and sealine, with promenades and public parks.
The winning option for the first question chosen by citizens, Suburbia meets the City, is originally Bjarke Ingels’s “8 House” in Copenhagen. It is a 61, 000 square metre mixed-use building and further characterised by “an alley of 150 rowhouses which stretches through the entire block and twists all the way from the street level from top to bottom”. In a nutshell, this is a 3-dimensional urban neighbourhood where the convenience of housing, business and recreation intertwine. It is currently the largest private development in Denmark.
The winning vote for the second question, Demolish and Reconnect, is actually taking effect in Seattle. It involves the process of digging a tunnel to replace the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct, which has been the double-deck highway to the waterfront for more than 50 years. There has been much progress so far, with half of the viaduct already demolished and with the new section on budget and ahead of schedule, to be officially opened in 2015.
The number of people who came to cast their ballots was higher than anticipated. Future Cape Town researchers, Edith Viljoen and Michellene Williams were equally pleased with the voting outcomes. “We were quite surprised at the number of people who turned up to vote. It was a great success and showed that with some guidance, people are indeed interested in engaging with the urban issues in their city.”
Says Rashiq Fataar, Director of Future Cape Town: “It is our belief at Future Cape Town, that new and exciting models for engagement with the public are not only possible, but worthwhile. Encouraging public participation needs to extend beyond meeting formal legal requirements, and should include creative thinking and innovation, fitting of our designation as World Design Capital 2014”.
The ballot box installation will continue to make its way around various public spaces next month, so citizens are able to once again have their say and vote on the future of Cape Town.
Notes to editors:
- Future Cape Town is a non-profit think tank advocating for progressive urbanism and the future of our cities.
- Future Cape Town established the project by partnering with HOTT 3 Dimensional Marketing as well as collaborative efforts with the City of Cape Town and MyCiTi Bus Rapid Transit Services in hosting the installation.
- Images of the Your City Idea installation at the Civic Centre MyCiTi bus station, and illustrations of the voting options and voting results, are available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/futurecapetown/sets/72157632848708464/
- Read more about the Your City Idea installation: http://futurecapetown.com/2012/05/your-city-idea-giving-citizens-a-voice-on-urban-issues/
- Read more about Bjarke Ingels’s “8 house” (the Suburbia meets the City design) here, and Seattle’s State Route 99 viaduct tunnel (the Demolish and Reconnect project) here
Media Office, Future Cape Town