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The production of the city as a white space: representing & restructuring identity and architecture, Cape Town, 1892-1936

Coetzer, NR; (2004) The production of the city as a white space: representing & restructuring identity and architecture, Cape Town, 1892-1936. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

English values, architects and architectural ideas played a major role in shaping identities, architecture and power relations in Cape Town between 1892-1936. Driven by an uncompromising belief in the universal desirability of Englishness and Western architecture and culture, they manifested a tension between a romanticised, historical, rural ideal, and an urban dystopia, the compromised resolution of which lay in suburban housing schemes. The discourse, images, public events and built space produced through this tension resulted in the deliberate - and occasionally unintentional - restructuring of class and racial identities (and thence power relations) at the Cape in the following ways: 1. The Cape Dutch revival and preservation movement, initially generated out of Arts & Crafts ideals, became the rallying point around which (i) a common English/Afrikaner national identity was formed, (ii) Empire and land possession was legitimised as a continuation of the project of "civilisation" and "History," and (Iii) an English landed gentry was re-realised at the Cape. 2. Poorer buildings and materials, and the old dense parts of Cape Town such as Wells Square in District Six, were socially, culturally, racially and materially heterogeneous, and the anti-aesthetic to English architectural ideals. Discourse around these spaces defined the inhabitants and the very fabric of these "slums" as "Other" and laid the groundwork for the eventual removal of these "Others" and conditions of "hybrid- Otherness" from the city. 3. The suburban housing schemes were initially generated out of the ideas of the Garden City Movement and "model cottages." Attempts to restructure "the Other, as "Same" through these projects were abandoned as the English Ideal gave way to economic compromises and the tendency to view "Natives" as non-permanent residents of the city. The resulting housing was effectively neutered, bordered and controlled, thereby removing the visible presence of "Others" and temporarily obscuring the effects of colonialism.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The production of the city as a white space: representing & restructuring identity and architecture, Cape Town, 1892-1936
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by British Library EThOS. Some images have been excluded due to third party copyright.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1383532
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