Active Boxes

“Deep class-based segregation still characterises South African cities and towns. Urban areas contain huge concentrations of poverty and reflect profound  spatial inequality. Safety in public spaces, is an essential ingredient for the creation  of liveable and prosperous cities: urban spaces and facilities need to be designed and managed  in a way that makes citizens feel safe from violence and crime.” (Draft Integrated Development Framework, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs)

More than 20 years after the end of Apartheid, South Africa continues to struggle with a socio-spatial legacy of exclusion. The process of designing, constructing and activating an Active Box enables communities to co-create safe and sustainable neighbourhoods. The active involvement of the community in the making of Active Boxes enhances social cohesion, citizenship and community pride.

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Active Boxes are small multifunctional community buildings. An Active Box is typically a 3 story building acting as a landmark – beacon of hope-  in a neighbourhood. There is a 24 hour presence in the form of a live-in caretaker and a local Neighbourhood Watch Group to improve safety. The Active Box acts as a neighbourhood information point from which NGOs, government and local groups offer a variety of services. The design of Active Boxes is directly informed by local knowledge and local needs expressed by the leadership of a community. The activation of spaces through partnerships is key to co-create safer neighbourhoods.


The Neighbourhood Centre Active Box is Monwabisi Park’s first permanent brick and mortar building. Meet Noludwe, one of Monwabisi Park’s 5000 community members who regular visit the centre:

“It is an information point to the community. It makes it easier for us to access services from City of Cape Town. There are offices in the centre and we have a partnership with VPUU. A lot of community members have benefitted through getting skills for their food gardening and small ECD centres, because we can come to the centre and access the services. The Monwabisi Park Facility was the base for the enumeration of Monwabisi Park. Residents come to the centre to register and to be part of the enumeration process. Now each household in Monwabisi Park has a letter of occupation.”


We have developed 9 Active Boxes across the Western Cape, they range in type and are tailor-made to meet the needs of the community and the various partners involved.

Get involved in co-creating Active Boxes and contact us on Facebook @VPUUSA, email or call +27 21 447 0086. For more info download our Active Box Booklet. We are looking forward to hearing from you. 


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