Social sustainability and its effect on the built form towards a design of a community anchor in Durban.
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Social disorientation and segregation is a reality of the times. With more people than ever before confined to urban spaces, the built environment is being forced to play a more important role in the defining of social realms and sustainability of social groupings. The importance of these spaces is being highlighted within the commotion that is going on around them. The societal shift from a rural to a predominantly urban one is accompanied by vast changes in many phases of social life. Factors like urbanisation, urban sprawl and economic upheaval have led to hard times in South Africa, and many other countries in the world. Sustainability has largely been focused on in terms of its surrounding environmental issues and the social sector has been given less attention. There are arguments that social sustainability needs to be dealt with long before the issues of environmental sustainability can be addressed in full. Various life stresses plague modern day life; these include social relations, family pressures, inter alia environmental factors and career pressures, all of which contribute towards escalating life demands. These stresses justify a need for architectural interventions that focus not only on the physical improvement of an individual, but also on spiritual and mental growth and health of a community as a whole. Thus it is important for there to be a holistic architectural intervention that encompasses these aspects and gives some priority to the positive wellbeing of individuals and the communities that house them. Hence, the opportunity exists to explore the link between the built environment and the health of urban communities. This study aims at researching the various factors that can be put in place to achieve a state of social sustainability and what affect this has on the built form and in turn how the built form affects this. Are there ways as architects/urban designers and city planners to once again fuse the people of disconnected cities and create urban landscapes that have a positive effect on social cohesion, social capital and ultimately social sustainability? The broader problems and issues revolve around what the requirements are to create a catalytic place and space where social cohesion is possible and fits the ‘needs’ and ‘requirements’ of the major groupings within South African society and how these spaces / places then promotes social sustainability through various theories. A key question was, what is the effect of urbanisation on social sustainability within the modern city and how can the urban environment be used as a catalyst to reach a state of individual and community health, community cohesion and ultimately social sustainability?