Crowdsourcing for the City: 10 challenges Capetonians think design can solve.

At the 2012 Design Indaba Expo in Cape Town, the 2014 World Design Capital stand has been one of the key attractions at the event, calling on Capetonians to answer the question: “What does design need to solve for you?”.

We interviewed Lianne Burton of the Cape Town Partnership about the stand.

What is the aim and purpose of the stand?

The aim of the City of Cape Town’s World Design Capital 2014 (WDC2014) stand is to demonstrate in a tangible way that design can transform lives and solve everyday problems.

We wanted the stand to be accessible and un-intimidating, and to immediately suggest that everyone can be part of Cape Town’s WDC2014 opportunity.

Can you tell us more about the design of the stand?

16 800 simple yellow pencils have been used on the stand — low-tech, everyday tools that can be used by people of all ages to express their needs or sketch out their ideas. . The stand is modular and re-usable.

How does this stand challenge the definition and notion of design?

The stand activation invites and challenges people to answer the question, “What does design need to solve for you?”, on a Yellow Post-It note. Implicit in this question is the notion that design is about problem-solving rather than just about pretty stuff.

Initial comments posted on the wall act as prompts for people to add other ideas, and recurring themes are emerging that will give the City a good sense of key focus areas for Cape Town’s WDC2014 programme.

One could argue that the Design Indaba expo attendants are likely to only represent a narrow portion of the broader Cape Town region. Will different communities in Cape Town get to add their ideas?

The stand is designed to have a life beyond the Design Indaba 2012 expo, as a roving exhibition that can be taken into communities and schools. As the stand moves to other communities, new themes may emerge that are particular to those communities, and this will be very interesting to map out. The stand is therefore essentially a low-tech crowd-sourcing mechanism for ideas. It sends a strong message that the City wants the 2014 World Design Capital process to be as inclusive as possible.

Design can be intimidating to some — we want to bring it down to earth and make it accessible and fun!

Here are 10 of our favourite ideas from the stand.

1. Public Space

Connect us back to the sea – tear down the elevated highways

2. Transport


We now have a rapid bus transport system. Thanx. Can we have it to Southern Suburbs and Townships?

3.  Housing

Affordable housing that looks great. No more RDP boxes please!!

4.  Public Space

More spaces in the City to be creative in

5. Environment

A greener city with new approach to waste

6. Public Space

Design a city that is sexy and amorous and inspires fun! A place where lovers love and create!

7. Transport

The unfinished Highway!!

8.  Transport


Re-think public transport in 3rd world countries.

I second that!

9. Public Services

How to use design to transform government to deliver services faster!! – Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille

10. Health

Urban gardening movement to ensure no-one is hungry.


In October 2011, the city of Cape Town was designated by ICSID as the 2014 World Design Capital, beating our fellow candidates Bilbao, Spain and Dublin, Ireland. The World Design Capital® (WDC) designation is a biennial city promotion project that celebrates the accomplishments of cities that have used design as a tool to reinvent themselves and improve social, cultural and economic life.