Renovating the city: the modern phenomenon of urban acupuncture

Walls and Roofs explores the concept of urban acupuncture, which combines urban design with the holistic healing approach of acupuncture.

Large cities like Johannesburg are increasingly becoming characterised by the presence of small-scale appropriations of urban space, known as “acupuncture points”. Clarissa van der Merwe investigates the modern trend of urban acupuncture and the influence it has on cities of the future.

“In the same way that one acupuncture needle can influence the overall health of a body, we believe that a single key project in a community can work to create a positive ripple effect to help the entire affected community in its recovery process.” –

Urban acupuncture is an ideology that views the city as a living organism. The concept proposes that the intervention or renovation of one part of a city has a ripple effect on the greater city and community.

Mokena Makeka, a renowned South African architect, says: “We have inherited infrastructure that is problematic and it is close to impossible to entirely change our cities.” However, Makeka also mentions that when people come together, amazing things are possible in public spaces, and that urban acupuncture will help to make these possibilities a reality.

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