Research Greenspace 2018

Children growing up in poor versus affluent neighborhoods are more likely to spend time in prison, develop health problems and die at an early age. The question of how neighborhood conditions influence our behavior and health has attracted the attention of public health officials and scholars for generations. Online tools are now providing new opportunities to measure neighborhood features and may provide a cost effective way to advance our understanding of neighborhood effects on child health.

The community and its contest.
Alexandra, informally abbreviated to Alex, is a township in the Gauteng province of South Africa. It forms part of the city of Johannesburg and is located near the upper-class suburb of Sandton (Southern Africa’s richest mile). In contrast to Sandton, Alexandra is one of the poorest urban areas in the country. In addition to its original, reasonably well-built houses, it also has a large number (estimated at more than 20,000) of informal dwellings or "shacks". Alexandra was established in 1912, and has a rich political history within South Africa.

Aims and focus of the project.
With so many advances in technology new tools of assessment have become available for free to influence our research and design process. The aim of the project is to use a virtual systematic social observation (SSO) study to assess / test whether Google Street View could be used to reliably capture a neighbourhood’s conditions. From these mappings / assessments we will strategize and brainstorm some design solutions.

HOW WE HELPED

Our systematic social observation (SSO) through Google Street View and Survey data showed the following.

ENVIRONMENTAL MAPPING

  • USED AS A DUMPING SITE
  • USED AS INFORMAL PARKING
  • ILLEGAL CRIME SITE
  • ANIMALS RESIDE IN VACANT LAND
  • RESIDENTS OF ALEXANDRA MAY USE LAND TO SQUAT
  • HIGH DENSITY POPULATION CORRELATES TO LESS OPEN VACANT LAND

WHAT WE DID

Our assessments helped us strategize and brainstorm some design solutions.
As TOO FEW DUSTBINS was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for: Educating residents of Alexandra township & providing amenities

As AIR POLLUTION was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for: Providing bike lanes and providing appropriate car services to residents of Alexandra township.

As WATER POLLUTION was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for: Providing appropriate amenities to residents (especially those residing next to the river)

As OPEN VACANT LAND was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for: Fencing vacant land to prohibit breeding of stray animals.

As INFRASTRUCTURE was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for: Invest money into phase-by-phase regeneration of Alexandra's infrastructure.

As FLOODING AFTERMATH was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for: Provide housing for residents living on Jukskei river banks to avoid deaths and injuries in a flooding event,