Re-vamped up

Thingking’s design interventions at Velokhaya in Khayelitsha aims to make the centre more accessible, fun and functional.

First Published in

Once a killing field, Velokhaya in Khayelitsha is today a vibrant community road cycling and BMX hub. This is thanks to creative intervention by Lyall Sprong and Marc Nicolson of Cape Town designer-maker consultancy Thingking.

A number of simple interventions saw the space being turned into a community cycling centre that can also be used as a day-care facility, party venue or even the setting for music videos.

Interventions started with a massive artwork that transformed the entire centre into a billboard. Thingking installed a simple misting system so that riders and spectators can cool off during hot, dry summer days.

The space has several barrel braais and a gas catering unit, ideal for hosting a large number of people from the community. The wall and a part of the kitchen counter double up as a magnetic notice board while an abundance of cheap seating was made possible by sourcing alien eucalyptus logs and simply adding legs to create cost-effective, but very funky, three person benches. Hangers were created for cycling helmets and Thningking also designed a basic bucket seat, which serves the dual purpose of seating and storage.

For the interior the colours used on the exterior was toned down and simple decals were painted to indicate male and female bathrooms. Linseed oil was used to oil the floors. A relatively inexpensive material, the thinking was that it would be easy for members of Velokhaya to maintain the floors. Finally, Thingking created wish wind mobiles out of waste milk cartons that were set into the fence.

Says Thingking: “The idea that Velokhaya should increasingly operate for the community, in conjunction with the prerogative of fostering pride as well as a sense of ownership, underpinned the design process. Therefore each intervention required participation and direction in the formation stages from the users.”