Moving Spaces 2011 – Temporal Flux of the African City

This years Cement and Concrete Institute’s Film Competition was themed Science Friction and called for ideas on what the Future of the African Citiy will be.

The film competition gives students the oppurtunity to pitch their ideas to the organisers, who then select the top 4  entries and give them R25 000 to make a short film.

Previous winner include ‘Litshe le Golide ‘ / “Stone From Gold” –won Best Documentary Film (International Category)in Turkey at the International Istanbul Architecture and Urbanism Film Festival.

The film was produced by Guy Adam Ailion, Andrew Ross Bell, Tamara Lynnand Craig Michael Maarschalk all students from Wits University.

‘Litshe Le Golide “Stone From Gold” is a Short Film About Johannesburg City as a Mining Town Turn
Metropolis. The film narrates the memories of a mine worker swimming through water while he contemplates his infatuation for this contrasted city and questions, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE GOLD RUNS OUT ?

Original Pitch

Having spent the last few years working in the peri urban settlements of South Africa, the choice to do a film about the conditions around these areas was quite easy.

The work done around my Dissertation Research was used to support the story line, which was developed by myself and Tommy Van Deventer, a studio colleague who shares the corner nook of anti-social life in the bowels of Boukunde.

The Story

The basic outline of the story hinged on Rem Koolhaas’s study of Lagos, he put forward that possibly the future patterns of First World Cities lies in the sporadic and fluxual growth pattern of African Cities.

The Story begins when a lonely and lost spirit arrives in a foreign environment ( A Township).

The spirit then begins to wander his new environment, searching for purpose and place in this new world.

The spirit then makes contact with a young man who, striving for his own place in this world of the peri-urban, sells goods from a small mobile stand on the road.

The spirit then takes the form of his stand, providing him with support, shelter and place to work from.

The young man eventually rises above his circumstance and moves on, leaving the spirit abandoned to wander this world again. He meets and old woman, who is supporting herself and her children.

The spirit then takes the form of the woman’s house, providing shelter for her and her children, growing and changing over the years to adapt and meet their ever flexing needs.

The woman passes on and her children move away, again, leaving the spirit alone. Yet again it wanders coming across this time a group of men producing bricks from their backyards.

The spirit then takes the form of the bricks themselves.

Embodying the building block, the spirit then engages all facets of his now familiar world. Meeting the needs of as many people as it can through its now flexible form.

The spirit carries on for years as the brick, each year doing more to help, to find its purpose and place through engagement and response.

Finally, over saturated and overspent, the spirit relents its form as the brick, and by choice, wanders alone again.

The spirit then returns to where it first arrived, and begins to think. It starts to consider what it saw, what it did, how it helped and how it couldn’t, who it is and where it is, what it is?

As it sits thinking, it begins to change, it changes as it reflects on what it has seen. While the forms it takes begin to speed up, the people in the area begin to gather around it. The more it changes, the more the people gather.

The spirits own flux in form begins to speed up, more and more, people begin to engage with the spirit, taking shelter under its overarching form, resting on its changing surfaces.

The fluxual growth of the spirit, the multifaceted  flexible forms express the fluidity and adaptiveness of the South African condition. The spirit becomes one with the people thus exemplifying the true South African condition.

Pitch to the Producers

From this original pitch, we were shortlisted to a final 8, of which 4 were to be chosen after a pitch to the judging panel. 

Tommy Van Deventer, Merike Swanepoel, Alexander Melck and myself, then began preparing a more developed presentation. 

We decided as a group to take the original story and expand it to include the urban condition of South Africa as well. And take a step back and look at the theory behind the story.

The narrative would remain similar, but would tell the story of two spirits, an Urban and a Peri-Urban character,  describe each character, explain their micro stories, depict an event that brings them together and through a process of re-emergence, discover they are the same, and ultimately merge to be a truer, stronger spirit that embodies the nature of African City.

Merike put together a short introductory video to create the atmosphere necessary to begin the process.

Introduction of story Themes and Theory

Introduction of the true nature of the spirit, the indomitable human spirit to select one’s own path in life, regardless of choices offered.

Introducing themes of mobility:

Urban Character
Peri Urban Character

Themes of cohesion:

Urban Character
Peri Urban Character

Themes of Adaptability:

Urban Character
Peri Urban Character

Themes of Appropriation:

Urban Character
Peri Urban Character

Investigation into the history of mobility:

Where it began
Where it extended
Current Condition
Investigation of Mobility through Urbanisation in South Africa
Investigation of fluxual growth through Mobility
Fluxual diagram of permanence
Fluxual diagram of temporality
Tension and balance within overlap of conditions

Future of the temporal flux of the African City according to Rem Koolhaas.

Summary of Temporal growth within Settlement
Adaptation of theory into storyboard
The Story


Introduction of Peri Urban Context
Introduction of Urban Context


Introduction of Urban Character
Introduction of Peri Urban Character
Doppelganger Moment – When the two spirits, previous enemies, realise they are twins.


Realisation of unity, and merger to ultimate master of two worlds.

We then closed with short test samples using footage from Site Visits and animation to explain our visual intent.


Unfortunately, we did not make it through to the final 5. We were told our themes were too theoretical and our presentation did not convey our ability to produce a film.

Perhaps we should have stuck closer to the original story and presented a better narrative the second time around.

In hindsight, it would have been difficult to produce this video for the September deadline and complete the Dissertation year’s requirement. But the themes, and ideas discussed did much in the way of supporting the dissertation.

But, as we were re-assurred by the producers – there’s always next year….