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'Slaves to Love'

Part 1 Dissertation 2002
Robert Silke
University of Cape Town Cape Town South Africa

“Brassai [the photographer] focuses his gaze on that most human of figures, the prostitute. In his photographs, she embodies the essence of the city, and is the human whose presence reveals the complexities of Paris, through her occupation of its streets and interiors.” – Katherine Shonfield, AJ, March 2001

Slaves to Love begins with an historical account of apartheid’s impact on a small, innercity, dockside neighbourhood of central Cape Town – District Five, which was partially (and quite mysteriously) spared the fate of District Six thanks, ironically, to efforts of the late Dr I.D. du Plessis, the right-wing, ultra-nationalist apartheid cabinet minister – who this thesis reveals was a closeted homosexual – and the man who was in part responsible for the flattening of District Six.

Chapter 1, “Gentrifying the Cracks - An Urban History of ‘de Waterkant’ 1950-2001”, uses original research and primary oral evidence to sketch an account of forced removals & homosexual worker worship in the today white, gay & gentrified ‘de Waterkant’ – once District Five, a poor, mixed-race fishing community.

Chapter 2, “Can Urbanism Exist Outside the Pedestrian Realm? - The Highway & the City of Cape Town”, takes a step back to evaluate, using both original and library research, the anaemic state of urbanism in present-day Cape Town, a city torn apart by the highway, the Group Areas Act & 20th century town planning – and begins to identify the seeds of a new, post-apartheid urban condition – one which piggy-backs on the infrastructure once used by the government to separate and control – the highway.

Chapter 3, “Somerset Strip Motel - Renting a Room at the Tower of Babel”, is an admittedly-imperfect program & brief for the ‘restoration’ of ‘de Waterkant’- by harnessing the basest of commercial forces in the aid of social transformation – represencing Trash, the exiled working classes, into the Cape Town inner city … stripping off a few layers of ‘de Waterkant’s’ debilitating tweeness, as a first step towards restoring Cape Town – that jaded old seaside whore – back to the kind of accidental, dangerous imperfection which always just seems to elude her – the kind that makes cities great.

Robert Silke

<re-writing type|architecture in an age of [radical] transformation>
frames the inquiry and topical thinking in the school of architecture at cape town. finding ourselves caught between the grassroots and the global; our premise is that, whereas under modernism,'type' was associated with use or function, it now resides with the author as [design] narrator. by provoking the subjective interior of the individual student, difference is priveleged, yet contested through a rigourous process of critical interrogation. the archeology of sites, subjects and events, as everyday or common occurrences, serve to generate new sets of [social] relationships, thereby informing new forms located in directly within the exigencies of our post apartheid condition.
intended to establish ground for design intervention, the architectural dissertation therefore also attempts to provide a basis for both the re-joining of thinking and making, and the production of a transformed architecture.

iain low|capetown 2001

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