Out & About: Cape Town

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Colourful Bo-Kaap houses.

Colourful Bo-Kaap houses. Image: Brett Rubin

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<em>It's Beautiful Here</em>, a sculpture by South African artist Heath Nash. Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain sits in the background.

It’s Beautiful Here, a sculpture by South African artist Heath Nash. Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain sits in the background. Image: Brett Rubin

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Café Haas in Bo-Kaap.

Café Haas in Bo-Kaap. Image: Brett Rubin

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One of many industrial-chic cafes in the city.

One of many industrial-chic cafes in the city. Image: Brett Rubin

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A tasty sculpture on the waterfront.

A tasty sculpture on the waterfront. Image: Brett Rubin

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The lighthouse in Mouille Point, built in 1824.

The lighthouse in Mouille Point, built in 1824. Image: Brett Rubin

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Cape Town is dotted with public sculpture.

Cape Town is dotted with public sculpture. Image: Brett Rubin

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Sculptor John Skotnes’ Mythological Landscape in Thibault Square.

Sculptor John Skotnes’ Mythological Landscape in Thibault Square. Image: Brett Rubin

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There’s a very good reason Cape Town has been named the World Design Capital for 2014. It’s packed with great spaces and local artists changing the face of the South African city.

Nestled on the shores of Table Bay in the shadow of Table Mountain, this at-once glitzy and gritty city is restyling itself as a global mecca for design. Recently named World Design Capital (WDC) for 2014 Cape Town, still aglow from the international attention of the 2010 World Cup, is gearing up for the spotlight again.

Originally a port town (it’s edged by the Atlantic and Indian oceans), South Africa’s oldest city is now its second largest (population: 3.7 million); and the most popular tourist destination on the continent. Cape Town boasts breathtaking geography, colliding cultures, and a famously laid-back attitude, all of which draw a high concentration of artists and artisans.

Affectionately nicknamed the Mother City, it continues to reinvent itself in corners and neighbourhoods as diverse and distinctive as its multicultural inhabitants.

Woodstock, located between the docks of Table Bay and the slopes of Devil’s Peak, is one of the most successful transformations. Once an industrial wasteland, it has rejuvenated thanks to the artists who moved into its underused spaces over the last decade, and with the recent opening of the Woodstock Exchange, a brand new concept space housing 70 creative tenants with retail and workspaces, Woodstock is now the undisputed hub of industrial-chic.

The historic neighborhood of Bo-Kaap, encompassing the trendy area of De Waterkant, is another rapidly developing creative hub. With its iconic multicolored terrace houses, this former Muslim locale is now one of the most sought-after addresses. Stylish stores and galleries line its hilly streets and the muezzin’s call to prayer can still be heard from its restored Victorian, Georgian and Cape Dutch-style homes.

Cape Town is indelibly marked by its political history, presenting architects and designers with a unique set of challenges to embrace. These include an ever-pressing need for housing, and rebuilding and empowering low-income communities while reshaping the city. The creatives living and working here believe in design as an agent of change and practice the maxim of the city’s winning bid for the WDC – Live Design, Transform Life.

In their leisure time, Capetonians lap up the culture – and the coffee – on offer in these reimagined neighbourhoods. Cafés, galleries and artists’ ateliers are overflowing with trend-setting locals, and when the sun sets over the ocean, bars and live music venues draw the city’s vibrant after-dark crowd.


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