A legacy of Cape Town’s spatial planning history are a number of large, well-located remnant pieces of land that are currently vacant or under-utilised. Swartklip1 , a 500Ha former weapons testing and manufacturing site owned by Denel, is one such significant land holding that has recently been released and bought by the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA).
Barrier to Integration
The site is situated in the Metro South-East, with access to the N2 highway, and in close proximity to the airport. Historically, the site was established as a tool of spatial division between the two largest racially divided communities of the city, the suburbs of Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha. The current racial population distribution across the metropolitan shows that very little has happened in the way of breaking through the “spacial legacy” of apartheid to becoming a more integrated society.2
Underutilised Land Parcel
The site is nestled between two of the poorest neighbourhoods in the city with high levels of crime and unemployment. The site has the potential to become a source of work opportunity for the surrounding community and an economic generator and attractor for investment.
Swartklip also forms part of the city’s coastal biodivesity network, characterised by a series of undulating forested dunes and wetlands that have formed from the prevailing coastal winds. Reinforcing the site connection to the coast, mitigating the threat of development and the degradation of the natural resources is critical to maintain a balance of the city’s ecosystem.
A key question at the metropolitan scale is what role the site can play for the spatial restructuring of the city? How can the redevelopment of Swartklip integrate the neighbouring communities and overcome the spatial divisions? Swartklip re-envisioned as productive landscape. An attractor for investment and promoter of opportunity. Site for a circular economy.
1 Other large national parcels of land in Cape Town include Wingfield Aerodrome, Youngsfield Military Base, Culemborg Industrial Area, much of District Six and the Athlone Power Station, among others.
2 The racial population distribution maps were produced by Capetonian software developer and cartographer, Adrian Frith, using data from census 2011 and 2001.