A design study for a centre for rural development and social upliftment
Project background: The design is a centre for rural development to incorporate the different sectors of the community in Carnarvon in the Northern Cape, specifically focusing on the poorer areas. The complex has three main sections, namely commercial, educational and production. The client is Kareeberg municipality and the Heritage committee of the town that forms the link with the inhabitants. The commercial section of this project will be the generator of income where space can be rented for other businesses consisting of formal and informal areas. The program arose from the needs of the community. Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will provide funding for the project as part of their community projects. The project originated from an interest in the social impact of architecture. Carnarvon was considered as a possible area after an introduction to Miss. Anita Venter. Miss. Venter is a researcher at the faculty of Economic and Management sciences’ Centre for Developmental Support, at the University of the Free State. She is currently busy with her PHD in social housing. The project developed in the Karoo, after a visit to Carnarvon and interviews with Mr. Heinrich Jansen and the community. Mr. H. Jansen is the Chairman of the Heritage Committee. Broad overview of the current situation: The town of Carnarvon consists of people from mixed cultural groups. It has limited natural resources, stunted development over time, and a slow economic growth rate. The main characteristic is the marked socio-economic deprivation, and the visible effects thereof, such as dilapidated houses, limited job opportunities, severe poverty, and alcohol abuse. The town carries the developmental layout of so many segregated towns from the apartheid era, where there is a definite separation between the poorer and wealthier areas. The typology in the area is typical Karoo vernacular. The locally available building materials are earth bricks, fired bricks, stone, and reeds. It is quite clear that the historical development, both from an architectural and socio-economical point of view, determined the current situation in Carnarvon and that outside influences played a minor role. Research progress: Through conversations with Miss. A. Venter and Mr. H. Jansen, the need for a community development centre was identified. Carnarvon was visited and interviews with the community were conducted. The purpose was to discuss the availability of a suitable site. As such, a site was identified, and further interviews were conducted in order to gather relevant information pertaining to the design of the centre. The process ran over a period of one week and the following was documented: - The socio-economic status, - The architectural character, - Traditional building methods concerning earth construction. During a second visit, significant results were obtained from an informal study conducted with the help of some of the children in the town to better understand the spatial perceptions of the people of Carnarvon. An investigation was also conducted into the surrounding areas, including the town Williston and settlement, Van Wyks Vlei, to investigate building materials and skills availability. A final visit was conducted in order to take further site measurements and to take part in the Williston’s winter festival helping with the game stand as most of the population of Williston participated. Through the design process, concept sketches were sent to the Heritage committee of the town for feedback on the design. Conceptual drawings and models were developed. The theory is integrated with the practical applications throughout the design process. The process was duly documented, resulting in this document.