Time to update Church Square

2017-04-11 06:01

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Light shows, a stage and seating areas are some of the proposals put forward to improve Church Square.

The proposal forms part of a report released by Future Cape Town, commissioned by Urban Lime, to research the quality of the public space on Church Square and recommend how the space can be improved. The report includes immediate, short and medium-term recommendations.

“We hope that we can begin to address the local, precinct-level challenges facing Church Square so that it becomes a more vibrant public space which attracts a diverse range of people,” says Rashiq Fataar, Future Cape Town director.

The square is rich in slave history, the report found, and is flanked by the Groote Kerk, after which it is named.

The street alongside the square, Spin Street, was the site of a silk spinning factory. In this street is a concrete plinth in memory of the slave tree under which slaves waited while their masters attended church services. The square became a public space in 2006, the report states, and houses a memorial to the square’s origins as a slave market. The square is owned by the City of Cape Town with operational support offered by the Cape Town Central City Improvement District.

The report found the square is surrounded by closed and mostly inactive buildings at ground level and experiences a low level of users, especially on weekends and evenings. The report states that successfully unlocking the potential of the square would include a more vibrant public life. This would not rely on specially organised events but rather everyday use. The report found although the square is accessible, with good transport and digital connections, users mostly passed through. The report also found although the space was historically important, there was little sense of ownership by users.

Recommendations to improve the space include increasing lighting and decorating blank facades, edges and walls. It was also proposed to create a “friends of Church Square” group, as well as improve Wi-Fi in the square and traffic calming around the square. The report also suggests diversifying the shops and increasing their hours of operation, creating a stage or pavilion for public participation and holding 3D lighting shows in the square.

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