How can the natural and anthropological systems of Hout Bay co-exist to contribute to urban resilience across scales?
Conflicts between urban growth and landscape protection for sustainable development have been the subject of discussion worldwide since the late 1980s. Although humans have interacted with the biophysical environment since the beginning of human history, the scope and intensity of these anthropological interactions have increased dramatically since the Industrial Revolution. Historically, most human-nature interactions took place at the local scale, although there were some large-scale human migrations and other broad activities, such as trade and wars. However, present interactions between natural and human systems at the regional, continental, and global scales have emerged as special concerns because human survival is dependent on the conditions and resources available in the natural environment.
Natural systems undergo processes, flows, and rhythms that differ from those of urban socio-cultural systems. While the former takes place over eras or epochs, the latter, in contrast, may occur within shorter periods of years or even months but with adverse affects on the sensitive natural systems. The magnitude and accelerating rate of contemporary urbanization is reshaping land use locally and globally in ways that require a re-examination of how natural-human systems relate to each other. The interrelations among these systems, which vary spatially and temporally, result in territorial forces which effect sustainability and urban resilience.
The study area of the Hout Bay River catchment represents a microcosm of the development challenges facing Cape Town and South Africa; including densification, unemployment, social division, and the mismanagement of environmental systems. Hout Bay is a largely residential development situated on the western edge of the Cape Peninsula, 22km away from the inner city of Cape Town. Originally a fishing and farming community, it has since developed into a place of cultural diversity but with economic inequalities and disparities in living conditions across apartheid-induced spatial and racial lines, all within a geographically distinct and confined area.
Hout Bay is a prime example of how anthropological interventions have led to the destruction of sensitive environmental conditions and the manifestation of social issues. This project considers the parameters of the natural systems to allow for the immediate and future needs of the community for urban development and social cohesion which aims to build urban resilience at the scale of the individual, household, community and city.
Featured graphics: Author’s own