As the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of The City and De­sign­ing South Africa, Zahira cre­ates events, pub­li­ca­tions and work­shops on how de­sign can help bring about so­cial change

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - @ WORK -

Keep track of your ex­penses with this vir­tual ac­coun­tant. Search for the cheap­est ights around the world, com­par­ing air­lines, dates and ci­ties. Sync and share an itin­er­ary from Gmail with your ho­tel and car rental book­ings. Get real-time ight in­for­ma­tion and nd your near­est Wi-Fi spot at the air­port. What I love about my work is see­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties for en­gage­ment and im­prove­ment in our ci­ties. De­sign should en­able peo­ple to live bet­ter lives. When it comes to my vi­sion for South Africa, I’m in­ter­ested in pas­sion-driven city-mak­ing, and nur­tur­ing the forces that are re­spon­si­ble for this de­vel­op­ment. Ci­ties can be made by a di­verse mix of role play­ers who use in­no­va­tive ideas and sus­tain­able en­gi­neer­ing to cre­ate bet­ter ur­ban spa­ces. Cur­rently, we have a ten­der-based sys­tem that kills cre­ativ­ity. It’s also more sus­cep­ti­ble to cor­rup­tion. In the sys­tem I wish to cre­ate for city-mak­ing in South Africa, pro­fes­sion­als would need to dream big, de­velop ideas and form in­ter­dis­ci­plinary teams – so they don’t just cre­ate spa­ces but thriv­ing neigh­bour­hoods, and not just build­ings but ecosys­tems. The place-mak­ing project at Jo­han­nes­burg Park Sta­tion started as an idea. I’ve been a mi­grant in many ci­ties around the world and know what it feels like to ar­rive in a big city and be be­wil­dered. I imag­ined mark­ing my ar­rival in Jo­han­nes­burg with a state­ment of de­sign, ar­chi­tec­ture and art a place to stop, re ect, or meet a friend. We be­gan set­ting up a lo­cal team and I looked for the funds to match gov­ern­ment con­tri­bu­tions. Renowned global ar­chi­tect David Ad­jaye, with whom I’d worked on his ex­hi­bi­tion Ur­ban Africa, came on board as the lead ar­chi­tect. As a re­sult of this project, I’ve been se­lected to par­tic­i­pate in the 2016 In­ter­na­tional Ar­chi­tec­ture Bi­en­nale in Rot­ter­dam. Pos­si­bly my great­est suc­cess has been ad­her­ing to my own moral code even when times were ex­tremely tough and an eas­ier path pre­sented it­self.

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