Kirsten Wilkins

About Kirsten Wilkins

Kirsten Wilkins is a freelance urban designer and architect in Cape Town. She graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Masters in city planning and urban design and, after working in New York and locally as an architect, her focus moved to issues of design and social justice at a metropolitan scale.

Her design work and collaborative efforts are crafted to create a positive interface between authority and creative public engagement in the city. Translating urban design theory into usable tools for improving authentic city living and researching the parameters of Open Source Urban Design in the context of the African city, Kirsten strives to be authentic in understanding the lives and experiences of those she represents, and believes the most dangerous place to design a city is from a desk. As such, she is an avid bicycle commuter.

The urban design framework for the Portside development, the formulation of the Tall Building Policy for Cape Town as well as active involvement in the City’s NMT Task Team to ensure the creation of usable and equitable mobility spaces for the City’s most vulnerable, all fall under Kirsten’s portfolio. She also heads external examination for Urban Design Theory at the University of Cape Town and writes extensively.

Follow her on twitter @contestedspaces.

Recent Posts

A safe place for dangerous ideas
29 March 2016

Merrydale Avenue in Mitchells Plain is a street with many lived realities. Infrastructure just built is already radically insufficient for the hours when it’s needed. Yet at the same time, Merrydale Avenue is often a starkly underutilised, textbook example of the City’s bolt-down public space ethos.

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Wanted: new ideas for informal settlements
9 February 2016

The problems faced by informal settlements cannot be solved without innovation. Kirsten Wilkins reports back on the Sustainable Settlement Innovation Summit. This week, a small conference venue saturated with natural ventilation and the background harmonics of wind-power generators set the scene for a truly innovative notion: Let us accept that government cannot ‘deliver’ itself out

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Inspiring better communities
16 November 2015

Kirsten Wilkins reports back on the Green Building Convention held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 2 to 6 November 2015. The rallying call from the organisers of this year’s annual Green Building Council (SA) Convention was ‘Inspiring Better Buildings’. The refrain emerging from the variety of acclaimed speakers steered well clear of

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Queen of Adderley Street to get a lift
16 October 2015

Kirsten Wilkins discusses the proposed repurposing of the old Standard Bank building in Adderley Street into the new Cape Town Museum.

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31 days of a new normal
30 September 2015

For the whole of October 2015 Sandton is to be prioritised for public and non-motorised transport. Kirsten Wilkins weighs in on why this is a good thing.

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Open Streets: From the mouths of babes
7 January 2015

A way to take back the space allocated to cars in Cape Town, Open Streets on Sunday 18 January is for everyone, including children. Urban designer Kirsten Wilkins shares what she discovered when she introduced her kids to active citizenry.

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Be a tourist in your Mother City
10 December 2014

Facilitating a design tour of high school learners exposed Kirsten Wilkins to how limited many of our experiences of Cape Town are. Let 2015 be a year to reoccupy our city anew, she writes.

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Society of the spectacles
14 November 2014

Urban activist Kirsten Wilkins can’t help finding the unfolding conversation around the Perceiving Freedom sculpture to be an incredible gift and, hopefully, change activator.

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Paint the town pink
24 October 2014

Here’s a good news story from India about how women took back the safety and equity of public spaces. In the second of her Contested Spaces series, urban designer Kirsten Wilkins reflects on the perceived fear of sexual violence.

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Walk the yellow line
29 September 2014

How can ordinary people participate in the development of the city? In the first of a series of columns, urban activist Kirsten Wilkins opens a dialogue about tactical urbanism and citizen-led experiments that can make us engage with our environment differently.

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