(PEACE)d together: a place of healing for women in the scarred landscape of Sophiatown.
Many women in South Africa are often subject to various forms of abuse. This can be the result of gender-based violence, domestic abuse by a partner or caretaker, societal abuse in the form of constrained life opportunities, psychological abuse, or even emotional abuse. These forms of abuse find their parallels in the South African landscape, which due to colonial and apartheid practices, is similarly scarred. Sophiatown manifests such scars as the result of the traumatic forced removals that took place there in the 1950s. The intended research seeks to probe aspects of abuse - both with respect to people and with respect to place. This dissertation acknowledges the destructive consequences of abuse, however, the experience taken from it can be transformative to one’s life and can provide a unique perspective on how strength and power can derive from an otherwise painful situation. The author intends to research ways in which an architectural intervention can support healing processes to both the women and the landscape through the lens of memory and healing. If one can heal from past trauma, the design of the architectural proposal can also heal the scarred landscape. Secondary themes will look at meaningful connections between women and the broader community of Sophiatown and how the architectural intervention will be able to lend itself to both. It will look at reconnecting the women and the landscape to their pasts and using that to help define themselves within the present. This research intends in no way to decenter the trauma that women have experienced, but rather to recognise that trauma and respond to it with dignity and care.
A dissertation submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional) to the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand, 2023