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Creating an African Riviera: Revisiting the Impact of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Development in Cape Town

Abstract

The use of leisure and tourism to re-image and redevelop cities has been interpreted as a mechanism for attracting capital and people. In a period of intense inter-place competition and urban entrepreneurialism, whole built environments become centerpieces of urban spectacle and display. Waterfront developments have become emblematic in this regard. Over the past two decades the redevelopment of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront (V&AW) in Cape Town has been transformed from ‘port’ to ‘playground’ and is internationally acknowledged as one of the most successful of these developments. This redevelopment has, as has been the case with numerous other waterfront developments, not been uncontroversial. New tensions and conflicts have arisen over the use, meaning, and ownership of this space. The acquisition of the waterfront by a consortium of London- and Dubai-based property developers in 2006 has renewed concerns about the ‘plasticization’ of the waterfront and signals the symbolic start of a new phase in this waterfront’s development trajectory. The paper tracks the development of the V&AW since its inception in the late 1980s and argues that general critiques of waterfront developments sit uneasily in the Cape Town context. It is also suggested that these developments can fulfil a very significant and positive role for developing world cities.

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Correspondence to Sanette Ferreira.

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Ferreira, S., Visser, G. Creating an African Riviera: Revisiting the Impact of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Development in Cape Town. Urban Forum 18, 227–246 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12132-007-9008-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12132-007-9008-3

Keywords

  • V&A Waterfront
  • Cape Town
  • South Africa
  • Urban renewal
  • Urban regeneration