Many vote to ‘demolish’ the Foreshore Freeways

  • In a span of a few hours, about 206 participants voted on urban issues for the city of Cape Town.
  • 50% of voters were highly in favour of a mixed-use development in the establishment of future urban communities.
  • Similarly, nearly half of the voters wanted the controversial unfinished freeways on the Foreshore to be demolished and have the harbour reconnected to the city.


The hosting of the Your City Idea Project at Church Square is one of the most successful in terms of voter turnout since its inception.

On Friday 17 May, curious onlookers and pedestrians were drawn to a bright yellow modular box structure in the centre of Church Square in the Cape Town CBD. The structure known as the Your City Idea Project is a ballot box installation that was created to breakaway from the traditional techniques of gathering information from the public while at the same time facilitating meaningful public engagement on social and urban issues. It is can be described as a rather unconventional and innovative means at introducing creative urban design features for public spaces, and a drive to encourage citizens to think about the way their city is designed in terms of service delivery, access and sustainability.

The Your City idea is currently initiated by the Urban Intelligence Unit (UIU), the research wing of Future Cape Town and it was designed and sponsored by design specialist exhibition company, HOTT3 Dimensional Marketing. The hosting of the installation on Church Square was made possible by Terri Carter, Senior Project Manager of Cape Town Partnership.

The first question asked voters about what their future community would look like. The voters could choose between: an informal city, suburban meets the city, suburbia and a compact city. The second question asked voters to vote for one of 4 options for the future of the Foreshore freeways namely: demolition, activating the spaces below, constructing a museum on unused portions and creating a public walkway, much like the New York Highline.

For Question 1, In your Future Cape Town, our communities look like?, the results are shown in the table as follows:

Table 1: Voting Results for Future Communities

% of Votes

Type of Development



The Informal City

The notion that the the informal city is not the opposite of a formal city but rather viewed as a city in formation — one that is formed by the people.


The Compact City

Comprising medium to high-rise housing blocks located in the centre or within close proximity of the city. It is typically characterised by a high density and smaller living space, is closer to public transport nodes and more reliant on public spaces, and family and car “unfriendly”.


Suburbia — The American Dream

A residential district situated on the outskirts of the city centre — typified by white picket fences, large driveways, spacious backyards, gardens and trees — a “car-friendly” and safe environment.


Suburban Meets the City

A mixed-use development, including apartments, offices and retail spaces connected by a continuous promenade.


For Question 2, In your Future Cape Town, the Foreshore freeways look like?, the results were as follows:

Table 2: Voting Results on the Future of the Foreshore Freeways


% of Votes

Type of Model/Design



Activate the Space

The intention is to bring life to the space by adding colour and fostering vibrant activity to the hostile environment below the freeway.


Freeways for People

To remove all cars from the freeway and convert it into a green and and landscaped public space for cyclists and pedestrians in the heart of the city.


New Museum

The freeway becomes a usable and iconic landmark for the city — a potential gateway into Cape Town. This could also be a panoramic amphitheatre with Table Mountain providing a scenic backdrop or a museum of City Planning and Transport.


Demolish and Reconnect

Rather demolish the freeway and reconnect the city centre with the harbour and sealine, with promenades and public parks.


The winning option for the first question chosen by citizens, Suburbia meets the City, is originally Bjarke Ingels’s “8 House” in Copenhagen. In a nutshell, this is a 3-dimensional urban neighbourhood where the convenience of housing, business and recreation intertwine. It is currently the largest private development in Denmark.

A voter who chose this option commented that although this type of development “may be beneficial, it should nonetheless be more affordable” for homeowners. Another voter shared a similar sentiment arguing that this type of development would be “too expensive.”

The winning vote for the second question, Demolish and Reconnect, is actually taking effect in Seattle. Many voters seemed to like the idea of the city gearing towards non-motorised access and modes of transport thereby enabling Cape Town to be a more sustainable city. However, this did not come without criticism whereby some voters argued that “demolishing the freeway would be like getting rid of an icon that has been associated for so long with the landscape of the city”.

“I think the City should rather include designs on public spaces for communities for events, festivals, etc” said another voter who opted to choose ‘neither’ of the options made available.

Rashiq Fataar, Managing Director of Future Cape Town mentioned the role of social media as a large part of the project’s success, “I see the same power when I think of the possibilities at least in Cape Town, to use social media more effectively across organisations and mandates and institutions.”

While Olamide Udoma, one of the UIU researchers on the team, described her first experience working on the Your City Idea installation: “I was able to hear the opinions of people living all over Cape Town due to where the voting box was situated. It was great to hear how people feel about their city and the changes they would like to see; urbanists in the making!”

The ballot box installation will continue to make its way around various public spaces in the forthcoming months, and the UIU will be keen on extending meaningful public engagement opportunities on urban outcomes for the city of Cape Town.

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