Cool Capital Publications - Urban Design Activism
Mathews and Associates Architects-SA
Drawings, plans, elevations
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Cool Capital's urban laboratory is Pretoria, South Africa's administrative capital city situated 60km north of Johannesburg. Often overlooked as an international tourist destination, Pretoria is a typical landlocked capital city: The perception exists that this city, populated with historic government buildings, stoic monuments and many reminders of an uncomfortable past, is suspended in a bygone and uninspiring time-warp. Cool Capital proved this wrong. Cool Capital acknowledges the power of citizens to become active agents in the making, shaping and re-imagining of their own built environment. Starting out with relatively few participants, the project quickly mushroomed into a city-wide movement with over 1000 active participants and an ever-increasing social media following. It wasn’t long before the private sector and educational institutions aligned themselves with Cool Capital’s self-appointed creative commanders, not only seeing the potential of powerful partnerships, but also the chance to use Cool Capital as a laboratory to test out ideas of public ownership and engagement. Locally referred to as the world's first uncurated, DIY guerrilla biennale, Cool Capital's intent is simple: to dislodge the bureaucratic relationship between citizens and public space and to encourage a new appreciation of where we live. The project encourages citizens to rediscover marginalised or forgotten parts of the city and to collaborate and become active agents in the creative rethinking of Pretoria as home, place, destination and capital city. All of Cool Capital‘s projects either challenge, celebrate or level the status quo. Cool Capital proves that by short-circuiting the usual bureaucratic processes of permissions and approvals, a city can be effectively democratized in a creative sense, leading to substantial and sustainable empowerment, and above all – a new type of social cohesion for South Africa. It continues ideas of urban renewal in the public realm but urges that this discussion should not only be among industry professionals but also include the broader general public. Cool Capital is a true reflection of the passion, diversity and commitment of the residents of Pretoria and demonstrates what can be achieved when citizens are provided with a platform to constructively engage with issues they identify in the realm of architecture, art and design. The Cool Capital project has already proven that this approach can cement one city's reputation as a notable centre for African urban innovation. Real creative change does not come from administrative policy but lies in the hands and minds of an innovative and engaged citizenry. A two-yearly publication of all the projects by citizens documents Cool Capital and gives every participant a chance to publicise their work – an important platform that launches many new creative careers every two years. Cool Capital Design Magazine 2016 Cool Capital Catalogue 2014
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