Collective memory as an informant of consciousness in the built environment : towards a collaborative place of reconciliation for the mining community of Marikana.
Mining towns, like cities, are experiencing similar outcomes of rapid-urbanisation where the opportunities that are presented by mass urbanisation and migration (economic growth, jobs and increased social engagement) are increasingly overshadowed by the consequences of over-urbanisation (housing shortages, slums and failing infrastructure). These consequences, coupled with the growing gap between the rich and the poor result in undesirable outcomes and lead to conflict, protest and violence. As such, the majority of the South African population, while striving for a better life, live in poorly serviced settlements on the outskirts of the city where crime, oppression and exploitation, contribute to a growing fragmentation of the society as a whole. These underdeveloped settlements and their working population contribute largely to supporting the wealth of the city and generating profits for a small minority. This is evident in the county’s mining operations where the disparity between the mineral wealth below ground and the social condition and poverty above ground is manifested in the failure of the social structure of the community and is responsible for the psychological and physical condition of ‘in-betweenness’. Halbwachs argues that culture and social framework, is presupposed by memory. As such, the research aims to explore collective memory and its influence on social cohesion as well as how it is manifested and mediated in the built environment. The research is concerned with establishing a consciousness in design that values humanity in the process and outcomes (i.e. From inception, through design development, construction and realisation). Consciousness in the built environment suggests a sensitive approach to social context while regenerating and revitalising new and existing communities and simultaneously providing facilities that will contribute to a socially and economically sustainable future in the wake of conflict and trauma. As such it is argued that human-nature, self-interest and competition for survival, if managed by conscience, promotes positive social advancement (Sumner, 1883).