Urban sanctuary: reimaging Gender Based Violence shelters in the urban environment of Johannesburg, Louis Botha

Baart, Kathryn
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In recent years, the issue surrounding Gender Based Violence and Femicide has been declared a crisis (Francke 2019). This crisis is something which needs to be addressed at various levels which include, but do not limit governmental, community and the household. Attempting to curb Gender Based Violence is an ongoing struggle as the statistics over the last few months seem to be getting worse and not better (Head 2019).This report outlines various ways the solutions to Gender Based Violence have been addressed through various educational and legislative as well as spatial means. Understanding all aspects of the solution is important in forming a long-term fix for this Local and International Crisis. However, these solutions are insufficient if the spatial context in which victims of Gender Based Violence find themselves is antagonistic to their own well-being. Oppressive architectural structures or structures situated outside the women’s own context do not facilitate healing and well-being. An architectural solution outlined within this report is a spatial solution which looks at integrating a women’s shelter within the urban fabric in which it finds itself. Where a shelter is usually very private, this solution combines a public community driven building which contains a clinic and skills development space with a shelter. These two programs are in contradiction to each other as the one is for public use but the other is very private. Therefore, the understanding of the contradictory thresholds will allow a building to promote a cycle of healing for the survivors of Gender Based Violence to better integrate the women back into society. The building itself thus promote this healing and allows for the community to take an active role in the healing of the survivors using program and varied interaction. This research report will look at various case studies both locally and internationally to allow for a greater understanding of the crisis as well as various architectural solutions to assist in coping with the crisis. This will then allow for a comprehensive design outcome for the survivors of Gender Based Violence and the welfare of the community as a whole
A design project submitted to the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional) July 2021