5 design proposals for the Woodstock and Salt River affordable housing sites

by Azraa Rawoot

The City of Cape Town recently launched a plan earmarking 11 City owned parcels of land in the Woodstock, Salt River and Inner City area that will be used to foster integrated communities inline with the City’s Transit Oriented Development strategy.

This article briefly explores the potential form of development of the five sites earmarked for affordable housing: they are Pickwick Road, Woodstock Hospital, Woodstock Hospital Park, New Market Street, and the Fruit & Veg site, including potential high level urban design studies.

The Prospectus defines affordable housing that is targeted at households earning within the monthly income bracket of R3501 – R18000 per month. This includes social (rental housing), GAP (rent or purchase) and inclusionary housing ( where affordable housing is included amongst market related units). It also refers to residential units valued at R500 000 or less. This is a major improvement from the now stalled Foreshore Freeway Prospectus which ostensibly cited the provision of affordable housing as one of its key motivating factors, yet neglected to give any tangible guidelines as to what the City meant by this.

Of the eleven sites earmarked by the City, five are available for “affordable housing”, two have already been designated to Social Housing Institutions, two will be developed for transitional housing (temporary alternative accommodation for emergencies such as evictions) and one site is destined for “future development”.

*Please note images in this article are an artist’s impression, they are a high level sketch illustration of the potential development of each site. The designs are not a response to the public tender and have not been tested against a brief, accurate land surveys, traffic studies, geotechnical information etc. The opinions expressed (and designs depicted) in this article are those of the author only, and do not necessarily reflect in any way those of any firm or organisation to which she is affiliated. These include the Young Urbanists and Jakupa Architects and Urban Designers. This article has NOT been written in the course and scope of the author’s employment.

Contextual analysis of Woodstock

The Woodstock neighbourhood has seen significant change and development over the past years in response to the process of urban renewal and gentrification.  The appetite for residential apartments, in an already mixed use residential area, has resulted in the densification of the area from single storey residential units to multi-storey apartment blocks as inner city living becomes more desirable.

All of the sites allocated for social housing are well located within the Woodstock and Salt River areas and are located within close proximity to many public schools (yellow dots on the map), public transport routes (grey dots on the map) and the opportunities of the the City Centre.

1. Fruit and Veg Site

The Fruit and Veg site is the smallest and closest to the inner city of all the sites explored in this article. It is located along Canterbury Road and is 0.2ha. The site is currently utilised as a Fruit and Veg retail store,and community vegetable garden which needs to be retained on site as far as possible. The surroundings sites on the city block is utilized as parking.

The site is surrounded by mixed use medium-density functions and multi-storey buildings on each edge. This includes high density residential development on Bloemhof Street, Harold Cressy High School on Drury Street, medium-density offices along Canterbury Street and medium-density mixed commercial uses along Roeland Street.

The site is a 5 minute walk to multiple MyCiti bus stops along Buitenkant Street and a 10 minute walk to the Cape Town train and taxi stations.

Design Proposal

The concept for this site is a mixed use design proposal that integrates a range of housing options, the Fruit and Veg retail component on ground floor as well as the existing community garden. The development has three built facades facing Kent, Drury and Bloemhof Streets, framing the public garden at its inner core. This edge allows an open interface for integration with any for future development across the garden, which could potentially be an extension of this development. The building height ranges from seven to eight storeys, which is appropriate for an area of coarse grained and multi-storey development on all sides.

2. New Market Street

The New Market Street site is wedged between a highway, major road and railway lines, creating multiple spatial challenges for the 0.8ha site. It is currently zoned Public Open Space 2 and used as a parking lot for surrounding offices. The site is an isolated developable pocket of land to the north of New Market. The south of New Market Street is characterised by multi storey mixed use development, predominantly offices with some light industry and retail function.

There are numerous public primary and high schools within a 2 kilometre radius and easily accessible via public transport. Some of these schools include Chapel Street Primary (0,6km), Walmer Estate Primary (1,2km), Trafalgar High (0,9km) and Harold Cressy High (1,4km). The site is a 15 minute walk to the Cape Town train and taxi stations.


Design Proposal

The New Market Street site is a long linear site that runs parallel to the railway line. The design proposal creates a street edge with building facades facing New Market Street and the inner linear, tree-lined courtyard. This creates passive surveillance with eyes on the street for the ground floor street edge as well as the inner semi-public spaces. There is only one entrance off New Market Street, as a result of the site’s constrained edges. The site is appropriate formedium-high rise development, by nature of its adjacent coarse grained infrastructure. The building heights range from eight storeys along New Market Street and five storeys along the railway line to allow north light on the southern building facade and into the courtyard.

3 & 4. Woodstock Hospital and Woodstock Park sites

The Woodstock Hospital site Woodstock Hospital Park site are adjacent to one another, separated by Victoria Walk, for the sake of this exercise, these sites will be integrated into one design proposal.

The Woodstock Hospital site is currently an underutilised 1.8 ha site that currently houses multiple old hospital buildings since it closed it’s doors to the public 1994. It is located within a fine-grained, single and double storey residential area, with more dense and mixed uses along Victoria Road (0.25km away). The site is located adjacent to the Woodstock Hospital Park, creating opportunities for integration between the two properties.

The site is situated on an entire city block, allowing direct access of Mountain Road, Earl Street, Victoria Walk and Nerina Street. The neighbouring land uses are residential dwellings to the north and east, the park to the west and Mountain Road Primary School to the south. The site is currently zoned General Residential 4 and is appropriately zoned for development of this typology.

The site is a 3 minute walk from Victoria Road, which offers a multitude of public transport options and social amenities. It’s closest MyCiti bus station is a 10 minute walk from the site on Roodebloem Road. There are multiple public high schools within a three kilometre radius and along public transport routes. The minimum number of social housing units provided on this site is 700.

The Woodstock Hospital Park is a 1.5ha site located directly adjacent to the Woodstock Hospital site. It is currently zoned Community Open Space 1 and Open Space 2, but underutilised as its current function. The site is located on an entire city block, allowing access on Victoria Walk, Earle Street and Golders Green Road. It is flanked on its north, south and west borders by fine-grained single and double storey row houses and the Woodstock Hospital site to the east.

A sensitive redevelopment of this site should include a park accessible to the public and a crèche which is currently located on the site. 

Design Proposal

The proposal aims to integrate the hospital site directly into the public park across Victoria Walk using special and raised paving, giving priority to the pedestrian, allowing the residents of the Woodstock Hospital site direct and safe access to the public park on the adjacent site. The concept is to create a mixed-use development, integrating market with social and gap residential units as well as a mix of functions such as commercial and retails space. The Woodstock Park site will retain a public park function at its heart that is accessible to the neighbourhood.

The conceptual units are designed to create a positive street interface, with balconies and doorways facing each edge, whilst mirroring this design tool to create passive surveillance onto the semi-private inner courtyards of varying hierarchies and the public park.

The average height of the buildings in each complex ranges from 4 – 8 storeys where appropriate in order to create density on well located land close to multiple social amenities that still conforms to the fine grained historic nature of Woodstock. Vehicular access is controlled and minimised in relation to pedestrian routes.

5. Pickwick Road

The Pickwick Road site is approximately 3.3 ha (just over three soccer fields) and is located in Salt River about 100m from Victoria Road and close to the Groote Schuur Hospital. The site is long and narrow and is currently a vacant open field.

The site is in surrounded by a mixture of varying land uses including an upholstery factory on Copperfield Road, UCT and CPUT student residencies to the east of the site, the Upper East Side Hotel and a self storage facility. The southern edge of the site is bound by the N2 highway.

The site is close to one of the area’s busiest roads, Victoria Road which is catered to by taxi, bus and the MyCiti. Both the Cape Town and Claremont CBD’s are all within a ten minute ride by public transport.  

The site is currently zoned Public Open Space, Municipal Purposes and Community Facility and will have to be appropriately rezoned for development. Pickwick is within walking distance of Groote Schuur Hospital, Blackpool Soccer Club, Shelley Street Park, Queens Park and Football Field and Rochester Road Park. The nearest primary school is Cecil Road Primary School (0.5km) and the nearest high school is Queen’s Park High School (0.4km). 

Design Proposal

The design proposal for the Pickwick site intends to create four perimetre developments, each framing its own semi-private courtyard that are linked via pedestrian walkways. The design creates an active facade onto Pickwick Road with entrances and balconies facing onto this street. Similarly, active facades face onto internal courtyards, creating passive surveillance onto these areas. The coarse grained built fabric and neighbouring site functions enables the Pickwick site to be well suited to high rise development. The ground floor accommodates limited area for parking, but priority is given to the pedestrian and encouraging the use of public transport options nearby.


Azraa Rawoot is an urban designer intent on creating places and cities that are socially and sustainably attractive places to live in, with a special interest in the design and provision of affordable housing in Cape Town.

There is one comment

  1. David Pulvermacher

    An informative article, but one which should have been made glaringly visible by the City months ago, or when it was published.
    I would take issue with statements like ‘4 – 8 storeys where appropriate in order
    to create density on well located land close to multiple social
    amenities that still conforms to the fine grained historic nature of
    Woodstock.’ What absolute nonsense!
    4-8 stories and fine grained historic should not be uttered in the same sentence.

    The proposal for the swallowing up of one of the only public green spaces in the Woodstock hospital area is also absolutely outrageous!

    If the City were to get it’s act together, there is a large tract of land called District Six, which has been fallow for years. It is closest to the City and all the ammenities that would be needed to sustain high density development of the sort proposed.
    That is where this housing should be located, amonst others.

    Come on Ms de Lille and Co. sort out the mess related to District Six, and stop messing with ‘Historic’ fine grain residential communities.
    Get your act together!!

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