designing_democracy seminar 29 august

Next year, South Africa celebrate 20 years of democracy, but everyday democratic values are challenged in South Africa as government, citizens, businesses and organisations test its outer limits. The process of nearing democracy is a feat that can only be achieved through problem solving, innovative thought, creativity, lateral thinking and significant strategising by civil society, governments and individuals. Design is the process through which solutions are found, and realising democracy as a product of design is an important step to creating an inclusive and integrated nation.

“In order for a nation to be a democracy, all citizens should have an equal opportunity to participate in its development and partake of its services – through political, social, cultural and economic engagement. In South Africa, most people are unable to access basic services in healthcare, education and housing and are not equipped to provide these services for themselves,” explains DESIGNING_SOUTHAFRICA founder and managing director Zahira Asmal. “We wish to explore ways that good design may better serve our society to afford dignity to our people.”

The DESIGNING_democracy seminar forms part of the initial discussions and lays the foundations for DESIGNING_SOUTHAFRICA’s Designing our Democracy programme. With South Africa continuously facing challenges in providing adequate services specifically to the underprivileged majority, it is through design that these challenges become enticing briefs for creative minds to collaborate with specialists and develop social solutions. DESIGNING_SOUTHAFRICA has identified an opportunity for design in its most diverse forms to assist in shaping a more equitable, resilient and socially empowered South Africa.

The seminar will host seven of the country’s leading thinkers from Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban each considering and highlighting DESIGNING_SOUTHAFRICA’s core components of the “Designing our Democracy” programme, namely DESIGNING_cities, DESIGNING_identity, DESIGNING_housing, DESIGNING_education, DESIGNING_healthcare and DESIGNING_services.

Professor Edgar Pieterse holds the position of DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Urban Policy, director of the African Centre for Cities and Professor in the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics at the University of Cape Town. Edgar will be talking with SIthole Mbanga, CEO of SA Cities Networks, an organisation that encourages the exchange of information, experience and best practices on urban development and city management. Together, Edgar and Sithole will look at cities, and how engaging cities will allow for a broader understanding and ability to problem solve the socio-economic issues that face them.

Andrew Makin is a lead architect at designworkshop:sa, an architecture practice based in Durban, South Africa, which has won multiple awards for its work, including the design of the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, defining itself by the quality and relevance of its conceptual design, production and final resolution. Andrew will be leading the conversation on identity, exploring the roles design plays in developing a national identity.

Aditya Kumar is an architect and planner from India currently working in informal settlements and backyards of South Africa as the technical coordinator and Deputy Director for Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) and Shack/Slum Dwellers International. He has presented his work at several global forums, exhibitions and conferences around Palestinian camps, disaster reconstruction and urban development. He will be discussing services and the challenges faced by informal settlements where design can make a pivotal change.

Urban designer, principal architect and co-founder of 26’10 south Architects, Thorsten Deckler, will share the insights gained through practicing architecture in one of the most complicated and unequal societies in the world. He will talk on housing and question the need for yet another designer chair, iconic building or pretty-picture urban framework when the real needs of the majority of the population pose an infinitely more interesting and difficult challenge for designers and professionals to engage with.

Professor Harry Hausler is the CEO of TB/HIV Care Association as well as family physician, HIV clinician and preventive medicine specialist with 15 years of international public health experience in implementing and evaluating integrated tuberculosis and HIV programs. He will present on healthcare, and how design can play a vital role in finding solutions to improve the systems through which to facilitate better healthcare delivery.

The DESIGNING_democracy seminar takes place on 29 AUGUST 2013 at the CAPETOWN CITY HALL. Tickets cost R350, which includes complimentary TRUTH Coffee and catered lunch. All proceeds go to activating the second part of the Designing our Democracy programme, an exhibition to be hosted as a project of the World Design Capital 2014 and during the second edition of Open Design Cape Town next year. Tickets can be purchased through Quicket or by contacting

For more information on DESIGNING_SOUTHAFRICA or the Designing our Democracy programme, visit

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