The Cape Town Partnership Takes the Initiative

Oct. 30th, 2015



Last week, the team spoke with Jesse and Ricky about District Six’s history and how those who currently reside on the lot have been there for an extended period of time. They explained that the information gathered through daily conversations could be beneficial for us in order to understand its current state. They also told us that the memorialization of those who have passed away in the lot and District Six plays a crucial role in Khulisa’s major goals for our project. We agreed to meet with Kirsten Wilkins, a representative of the Cape Town Partnership, in order to come up with a design and suggestions for the memorial space and the lot as a whole.


Cast of Characters:

Khulisa Social Solutions – Jesse Laitinen (sponsor)

Service Dinning Room – Ricky

Cape Town Partnership – Kirsten Wilkins, landscape architect

The WPI SDR Team – Aaron, Brianna, Drew, Liz

The WPI Khulisa Team – Alicia, Keegan, Miguel, Tati


Setting and Scene:

As we arrived at the Chopchop cafe and were introduced to Kirsten, it was clear to see her motivation and enthusiasm for the project and its impact on the society in which it takes place. After she shared her background and work experience she proceeded to explain some of the ideas and concepts she was working on for the parking lot, emphasizing her interest in incorporating District Six’s history into the lot. At the same time she explained how her job relies on observing social dynamics, people’s behavior and interpreting that information in a way that her designs will be beneficial for society with ease.  We further developed the conversation by connecting her ideas to the background research we conducted throughout the project’s preparation time. Also, we explained to her how, a few months ago during our initial skype interview with Jesse, we were informed about several city restrictions that do not allow building upon the lot’s territory. Kirsten told us that the regulations might not preclude small improvements, as the lot needs to serve many functions for both the people.

Kirsten proposed several ideas in order to make the parking lot more approachable and pleasing to the eye. These went from developing some sort of soccer field or tennis court for kids and youngsters to socialize through sports to creating a terrace with the purpose of commemorating District six’s history. One of the team members showed some concern about the soil composition of the lot since it will affect the longevity, feasibility and cost of the project the students are trying to develop. Also, several considerations such as the historical relevance of the area and the memorial’s integration to the lot’s dynamics were taken into consideration. Throughout our research we learned that social interactions are one of the key elements that a memory space requires for it to be successful. It will also hopefully help promote social interactions and a better understanding between the street community and the transiting communities.

This dialog resulted in a plan for the possible development of a memorial terrace composed of gabion boxes filled with rubble from the lot and several trees where people can sit and appreciate the history behind District Six and the Canterbury Street lot. Given the fact that underneath the lot’s earthy surface lies the remains of foundation walls that once supported the houses that were bulldozed during the apartheid era, further studies about the project’s history and history and feasibility need to be done.



After the meeting with Kirsten, the team started to wonder about the time lapse between the beginning of the project and its culmination. Will we be able to actually work on it or will we create the base for the project to be developed later on by Khulisa Social Solutions? How will those who reside on it perceive such a big change on their “home”? Nevertheless, this meeting was very productive since it opened our eyes to the big spectrum of possibilities for the lot’s development as well as a new connection with a professional urban planner that can come in handy further on the project. Also, it is exciting to meet new people that are as committed to helping others as us, and that are willing to donate their time in order to help us further develop this project