Architect Mokena Makeka evoked a higher consciousness around public space at Design Indaba Conference: “Is it possible to change people by changing buildings?” he asked. Here he responds to questions from the audience submitted via SMS. Read Maciek Dubla’s blog post.
How can Cape Town overcome its geographic limitations and allow all its citizens to enjoy and access the heart of the city?
Through a radical reimagination of where we should place development and by focussing efforts on public transport oriented development. Our primary limitation is the fact that the harbour is a securitised area not open to the public. A public-friendly harbour for all income groups is key for the city to succeed at a global and local scale.
How do you incorporate African culture into your township projects?
I don’t consciously incorporate African culture, it’s a sub conscious and reflexive aspect of my practice that embeds my art regardless of location. It’s who I am. I don’t summon “Africa” for the township.
Do you believe that architecture should be respectful of its environment and surroundings?
Always. But respectful can be provocative, engaged and challenging. Respect to me means shunning the desire to dumb down and being polite for the sake of it. Our city is full of drab and dull buildings. Architecture is a rare delight that must stimulate.
Would you ever design a casino?
Happily. As long the money had no value, or winnings were strictly used in a “pay it forward” manner. Patrons would not be allowed to wander aimlessly on the floor for more than two hours. Skylights everywhere so you can sense the passage of time, and no period piece, faux pastiche simulacra of architectural styles.
In your 2030 project, have you considered the “Living Lab” concept that includes the communities the spaces would be intended for?
There is such a wide range of urban living concepts for a designer to draw upon in urban development theory. The Living Labs is interesting but one of many. I have a different model suited to our context. One must also remember the design is for unborn generations