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Merchant House
Merchant House
24 October 2019

Join us for a fascinating walking tour of the V&A Waterfront, in partnership with Open Design Afrika on 24th October at 17:15.  

Lead by Programme Manager for Social Inclusion and Placemaking: Henry Mathys, this walking tour will showcase the history and regeneration of this urban success story. Participants will get an opportunity to understand the importance of clustering and how to get the mix of commercial, research, tech start-ups, residential and anchor institutions right. The walk will also focus on the importance of DESIGN and how this plays out in the public realm as an effective stimulant to economic and social development.

MEETING POINT: Merchant House 19 Dock Road, V&A Head Office @ 17:15. Tour will start at 17:30 – 19:00 on October 24th and is completely FREE.


The V&A Waterfront, situated in the oldest working harbour in the Southern Hemisphere, is one of the most visited destinations in Africa. It has undergone a notable transformation in the thirty years since its establishment and alongside the physical evolution, the economic and social contribution of the V&A Waterfront continues to grow and mature.

It employs thousands of people who would otherwise be without jobs and hundreds of people have benefited directly from the remarkable enterprise development projects. National and international tourists bring money to Cape Town. So too do the growing number of national and international corporates. These changes have helped the V&A Waterfront give back to the community to where today it is a centre of creative enterprise development and gives growing support to entrepreneurship, innovation and design.

The world over, innovation no longer takes place in isolated, suburban research campuses accessible only by car. Instead, the emerging model for innovators is to congregate in compact districts within cities. In some cases, this happens organically, while in others it is engineered by local government and private bodies in the hopes of creating the right environment to spur innovation and inclusive economic growth. They tend to develop in areas of cities where land and rent are less expensive, and where people can more easily commute to work by foot, bicycle or public transport.

The Brookings Institute defines innovation districts as “dense enclaves that merge the innovation and employment potential of research-oriented anchor institutions, high-growth firms, and tech and creative start-ups in well-designed, amenity-rich residential and commercial environments.”

This walking tour will use the principles of Innovation Districts Design to showcase the commercial, social and environmental growth and success at The V&A Waterfront. A 2018 independent study showed that The V&A Waterfront has contributed R255bn to the GDP of RSA economy since 2002. 23 000 people work at The V&A Waterfront and 24m people visit every year.

There are 396 small businesses operating from The V&A Waterfront precinct with 2800 people gainfully employed in this sector.


Since its inception in 2013 Open Design has hosted 523 events. This includes over 100 education related events; 111 workshops and master classes to improve skills; 159 talks featuring 795 local and international change-makers, innovators and entrepreneurs; 53 exhibitions; 150 networking events and has supported and showcased more than 300 small, medium and micro-enterprises.  

At Open Design we believe that innovation, education and community are the building blocks of a sustainable, inclusive, and prosperous society. Design is the unifying thread that links the building blocks and solutions to develop a better future world. One of Cape Town’s most dynamic design and innovation events, the Open Design Festival brings these concepts together.

The 10-day programme takes place across various venues in different communities across the City of Cape Town creating cross-cultural experiences that inspire social cohesion and nation building.

Find more here:

5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
12:00 AM – 12:00 AM


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