The 2017 Tlhakantsha Collaboration Week was held in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture over the week of February 24 – March 3.
Over 230 3rd third year students collaborated on a project that emanated from the original FADA Green Week, which brought students together around working on real world issues, in groups, through design with real clients.
The difference this year was that the organisation team aimed to simplify the complexity of the week, and focus more on collaboration, group work and design process, with a particular focus on decolonising FADA. This was workshopped with staff and students and through a co-productive research resulting in a new name for the week – Tlhakantsha.
Brief development and aims:
The organisation team wanted students to develop critical skills in understanding complex real world situations while fostering good design process and group work skills. An open ended brief with 1 major theme and 3 sub themes was used to achieve this:
Theme: FADA-ship – What makes us FADA?
Sub-Themes of engagement:
A series of sub-themes were developed to allow students a broader approach to the specific themes the organisatoin team wanted the larger group to tackle.
• Why is FADA? – ‘Accessibility’ of FADA as a student (Design of decolonisation of FADA)
• Where is FADA? – Capacity of the neighbourhood of FADA (Spatial design of/around FADA)
• What is FADA? – Resource use and management of FADA (Resilience in design FADA)
Students were encouraged to use tools as a means of research, collaborative techniques and design. They were given a resource developed by the DSD DESIS Lab that outlined several key tools for use in the project. This was shared digitally through a website that was created for the week-long project: https://tlhakantshatoolbox.wordpress.com/ Students were incentivised to design and use their own tools in order to add to this resource for use by future FADA students.
Methodology of engagement:
• Tools/Tool-Sets of engagement – process as the ‘artefact of design’ in the form of methods and strategies that are made visible in the form of tools that support co-design.
“In an age where design has been commoditised to an extent that its value is often only seen in relationship to the ‘product’, a focus on the importance and value of the thinking and reflective processes within design are more imperative than ever.
As young designers in South Africa, you will face this challenge in practice, and in order to equip you with the ability to sell the value of process in your practice, we feel an immersive recognition of tools and toolsets around strategies for design is crucial. Tools in these contexts can be understood as methodologies, methods, techniques or models that facilitate design thinking and practice, but can also give value to the necessary process of design and group work. “
– Rationale for tool/method use from Tlhakantsha Collaboration Week 2017 Brief
Each group was asked to submit their work in the following categories for the judging:
• The Final Strategy, a group developed strategy that looks holistically at the identified issues and systems in your project. (40%)
• The documentation of the Design Journey which describes the various tools, methods and approaches used as well as a group reflection of on the project. (60%)
Emphasis was placed in the marking around group work, boldness and a specific call for ‘strategies’ – as strategies allow for design students to focus on addressing the identified problems and not just working towards a product within their disciplinary expertise. A sub-set of prizes encouraged
students to focus on good collaboration and design process:
• Best group work tools/methods:
o To the group who demonstrates the best display of co-design and collaborative practice, t his should be seen in discussion/presentation at judging)
• Most innovative & effective strategy/tool:
o To the group who shows the most ‘out of the box’ and innovative strategy to deal with the issue at the hand while demonstrated a grounded and realistic proposal.
• Boldest Proposal:
o To the group who took the biggest ‘chance’ and put themselves out there to achieve their aims.
The Tlhakantsha Week:
The week started on the afternoon of the 24th of February with a briefing session from staff which included an introduction to the brief, a short presentation on the sub themes, and a quick group exercise to get the students mixing outside of their departmental comfort zones.
Over the week long period the students took the brief with lots of energy and colloboration.
Impromptu Fashion from the Architecture Department’s 1st Years
Final Judging Day & Prize-Giving
The week was a great success and we are busy planning for next year. The project student work has been collated and shared across several platforms, the easiest can be seen here on YouTube: