Objectives and Process

Objective 1: Connect with the street people, Khulisa Social Solutions, and Service Dining Rooms to define the foundation of the project

In order to establish working relationships with our diverse partners, we sought to form friendships founded on trust and understanding in a few key ways.

First, the team scheduled meetings with Jesse Laitinen, our liaison from Khulisa Social Solutions. The team learned about the situation of the lot through creating a relationship with those who currently live there. The goal was to establish a functional working relationship as well as a friendship with mutual understanding of the project goals. To achieve these goals, the group:

  • Met the street people on the lot (read about one our first encounters: Challenge of Being Outsiders)
  • Maintained communication through daily visits
  • Discussed project goals and mission
  • Experienced their daily routine in the lot, including how their parking service worked

The following were advanced through initial meetings with Jesse and street community members:

  • Strengthened professional relationship upon arrival
  • Learned and understood the best way to approach the street people and the community
  • Exchanged project goals and clarified mission while we were there
  • Discussed project feasibility and recent development in project goals
  • Obtained a tour of the lot from its residents with her

Afterwards, the team reviewed and reflected upon the information gathered and used it to improve the project plan in order to best accommodate their needs. Time spent with the street community was crucial to build a relationship that fostered the success of the project.


Objective 2: Understand the dynamics of the street people and the surrounding community

After creating an interview plan for the different groups of people we expected to encounter, we learned the best way to get to know the community is through informal means. We learned the most by spending time throughout different times of the day with the residents on the lot. By casually conversing with the people on the lot and in Service Dining Rooms we:

  • Experienced the street people’s daily routine
  • Discovered how they came to be at the lot
  • Learned the dynamics amongst each other on the lot
  • Figured out what the street people would like to see done to the lot

Another crucial point of view was that of the people parking at the lot. The team performed interviews with structured questions to gain their opinion because they offered views from another segment of the Cape Town public. Through several days of questioning, the group:

  • Gained a basic knowledge of those who park on the lot
  • Discussed their current usage of the parking lot
  • Talked about what they would like to see done and what would make their experience better
  • Understood how the parkers currently interact with the street people

By gaining perspectives both from the street people and the parkers, we hoped to create a space that works for all by taking into consideration the background, ideas and needs of the diverse groups of people involved. To see the questions we asked the parkers, click here.


Objective 3: Collaborate with the community to design elements for implementation

The team took various approaches to designing the immediate plans for improving the lot. Through multiple formal and informal brainstorming meetings and collaborative design activities we finalized plans to be implemented before we left. Among the ideas presented by the team and their co-developers, and after learning what the greater community would like, two immediate options arose:

  • A memory place for District Six and the street community to allow for proper remembrance of the past and their lives. Design elements for this space included:
    • Hollow bricks used to allow for planting of flowers by community members to remember those who died in District Six or on the street
    • Plaque created to commemorate District Six and the street community and give thanks to Khulisa for their efforts
    • Benches created from gabion baskets to allow for rest and reflection. Gabion baskets are a metal mesh frame filled with rocks, typically used for retaining structures, but by putting rubble from the Canterbury Street Lot into them they serve as another way to remember District Six
    • Model of lot built and used by many to offer ideas and gain awareness of memory place designs
    • Final design created using paper cutouts we pushed around with our co-developers until an agreement was reached
  • A mural to garner community support for new developments on the lot
    • Tree of Life theme chosen by co-developers because it resonates within all of us
    • Design created by local artist living on the street, Lundi (Lenny) Gqwaru
    • Poem written by our co-developer Theresa Alexander to bring attention to life on the street
    • Text composed by street community to reflect the project goals
    • Handprints put up around the design by community to show support for those on the street and future changes on the lot

Because the immediate changes were designed by our co-developers and ourselves, the local street community felt like they had a stake in the project too. This created a sense of ownership, something everyone could be proud of.


To learn about the design process for the mural, please read A Wall Full of Life and Color.

For a more in-depth look at the design process, please read The Memorial Comes to Life.


Objective 4: Implement initial physical changes to promote interest in the development of the lot

The team created a mural and memory space by partnering with Fruit & Veg, Builders Warehouse, and working with our co-developers and members of Khulisa’s Streetscape program. To bring the community together, we organized “Community Days” for both. For the mural, during these days members of both the street community and those who use or transit the lot helped us paint and put their handprints on the wall. By doing so, they pledged to support the development of the Canterbury Street Lot and the street individuals. For the memorial, we held a ceremony where people living on the street and people from the greater community could plant a flower for District Six or a loved one from the streets.

To get the mural on the wall, people from the community took the lead. Lenny (the designer) and a hired local artist, Holmes, were at the forefront along with our team and co-developers for most of the painting. After creating the final design, the process followed was:

  • Received permission from the CEO to put our design on Fruit & Veg City’s wall
  • Gathered materials on a budget using Holmes’ contacts for discounts
  • Transferred image to wall using chalk
  • Filled in outlines with paint to give it color
  • Spray painted the text around the design and poem to the right
  • Covered in a protective clear coat to withstand weather conditions
  • Invited community to put handprints on the wall in support

Our co-developers and some Streescape participants took the lead on the building of the memory space. Explaining they had backgrounds in construction, mixing the concrete and laying the brick was easy for them. The rest of the process was as follows:

  • Mixed concrete using a recipe of cement, sand, and water
  • Laid bricks and applied pressure to secure bricks into place
  • Painted the constructed memory place in an earthy beige tone to let the color of the flowers stand out
  • Attached plaque to explain the purpose of the memory space to anyone who passes by
  • Planted ground covering plants to frame the space
  • Held a remembrance ceremony, over 40 people from the community showed up, where people could talk about a loved one and plant a flower to open up the memory space

Read more about the steps taken to create the “Gardens of Life” mural here.

Explore the process of creating the “Peoples Garden Terrace” here.


Objective 5: Envision the future development of the lot for Khulisa, the City of Cape Town, and other partners

To make this project sustainable, the team composed a proposal for Khulisa Social Solutions and the City of Cape Town to continue with the development of the Canterbury Street Lot in tandem with the District Six Trust. In the proposal, the team also included ideas explored and evaluated with the street community in the area since they had a deeper understanding and knowledge about the lot and its dynamics. To get a better insight, please read The Cape Town Partnership Takes the Initiative.

The approach that the team implemented in order to ensure a good understanding of the proposal was to divide the lot into smaller sections (e.g. Fruit & Veg Garden: the Streetscape Program, Peoples Garden Terrace Slope, Parking Lot Attendants Informal Storage). This would allow readers to have a more detailed insight on each section’s current state and proposed future improvements. Each of the proposed ideas underwent a proper study in order to determine its feasibility. Visual aids were also included to provide a better understanding of the ideas that the team considered helpful to foster a broad sense of community.


If you would like to explore the different ideas the team suggested for the future development of the Canterbury Street Lot, please see Gardens of Life Proposal: A Lot for Everyone.