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Play Khayelitsha I

City of Cape Town

Unlocking ideas for the development of the township's center.

Feburary~November 2014

Cape Town, South Africa

Partners: Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading -VPUU & in/formal south

5 Sessions with 120 Participants

Click to view the players who joined the November 2014 Sessions 1, 2, 3.

Urban Challenge

Khayelitsha, translated as ‘our new home’, is South Africa’s second largest township. It has a population of more than half a million, 75% of which are under 29. Despite its young population and their will to build a better living environment, the community in Khayelitsha's Central Business District — the KCBD — struggles. Large plots of land remain vacant, and limited infrastructure and a lack of investment is letting down the process.

Who can save the empty centre? Passionate local businesses owners? Private market parties taking measured risks? Spatial designers with innovative zoning rules?

-Our team generated Infographics and Maps for a better understanding of Khayelitsha's challenges.


In February 2014, our team were briefed by the planning office of the City of Cape Town on this urban challenge. We spent spring creating a game prototype to be tested during Department of Design events in July 2014. Around 60 players, including the Cape Town municipality, VPUU and Khayelitsha businesses and residents joined this version, giving us great feedback for the next iteration.

Project Results

In November 2014, we reached out to over 80 local stakeholders, with the help of the City of Cape Town, VPUU and in/formal south. We set up a City Game session with local stakeholders, in which they strategized their urban visions. It was a success, and the results will be implemented in future. Among the collaboratively sourced ideas are:

Traders’ Co-operative for Securing Land

Local traders expressed a longterm interest in land ownership. This goal, alien to many stakeholders around the table, set the tone of the negotiations for the rest of the day. In order to realize it, the idea of setting up a Traders’ Co-operative emerged.

De-constructed Shopping Mall

Stakeholders proposed a ‘deconstructed shopping centre’ in materialising the container park where traditional groceries and supplies are split up into different sections. A variety of smaller shops would contribute as components of a ‘mall’. A financial model supports this entity, where all the shops are linked to a central till, from which a small portion is taken from the overall sales to cover the management of the centre.

A Rent Policy for Regularised Trade

Conflicts arose on the lack of rent policy for regularised shops. SPUD argued that vacant retail spaces and unpaid rent of occupied shops delivered by VPUU were frustrating the development. A counter argument was raised on the lacking culture of paying for provided services in the area. A SPUD planner argued that these were symptoms of wrong products for end users. Further the discrepancy of rents, R950 in Khayelitsha and R300 in Mitchell’s Plain, for comparable retail spaces was argued as the main reason behind the discontent amongst local traders.

Traders’ Co-op asks guidance from KCT

Traders reacted to the passive position of the city by seeking a partnership with KCT. Either as a land investor for leasing to traders or as a mentor in forming the Trader’s Co-op, traders proposed a leading role for KCT. Traders have a shared bank account but need a mentor to manage their union professionally.

Khayelitsha Tourism

Local traders have been reporting the increasing potential for tourism in their district. Responding to this observation,the land owner picked up the Boutique Hotel idea.
SPUD who proposed the re-zoning of Ntlazane Road responded with highlighting B&B opportunities for residents.


Without the trust and support of Dutch Stimulation Fund for Creative Industries, Dutch Ministry of Economy and Dutch Consulate-General in Cape Town and the City of Cape Town, Play Khayelitsha could not take off.

Media Coverage

Play Cape Town in NRC Handelsblad

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