The Little Mogadishu masterplan has been initiated by the city at the request of local residents, who would like to limit the spread of the emergent Somali immigrant precinct in Mayfair and Fordsburg. The area has seen an incredible informal densification over the last ten years, which has largely taken the form of house-shops and backyard shacks. The area received the largest influx of immigrants during xenophobic violence in the cities and townships at the city’s perimeter and has now tripled in population size. Apart from a clear definition of a precinct, the plan called for development guidelines which recommended new typologies for high-density living arrangements, which respected health and safety guidelines and allowed for the creation of communal semi-private space.
The commission for this project arose through a government tender. The site is extremely large and consists of three distinct precincts – Mayfair North, Mayfair South and Fordsburg. Each precinct included key public space interventions such as new parks and street upgrades. The design guidelines for specific sites revolved mainly around the transformation of existing suburban back-to-back plots into medium-density edge development, which created shared courtyard spaces. Local Studio took cues for the public environmental upgrades from B.I.G.’s Superkillen masterplan in Copenhagen, which uses a clear coding of the city floor to create a sense of place in a previously underdeveloped immigrant community.
The project has seen numerous challenges from the entrenched Indian community’s side, who have seen the plan as catering too much to the needs of immigrants and not enough to the needs of locals.