UIA World Congress 2014

XXV International Union Of Architects World Congress 2014

The 25th International Union of Architects World Congress of Architects, UIA 2014 Durban, will be held at the International Convention Centre in Durban from 3-7 August 2014. This is the first time that this Congress is being held in Southern Africa and we are expecting 6000 delegates from around the world. 
 
The International Union of Architects (UIA) organizes a World Congress every three years, and there have been 24 previous UIA Congresses. The UIA is a non-governmental organization accredited by the United Nations, and it represents professional associations of architects in 124 countries, and approximately 1,3 million architects worldwide. The UIA secretariat, located in Paris, is responsible for the Union’s management and general administration. 



The selection of the Congress host city is made six years in advance. At the UIA 2008 Torino Congress, the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) won the bid to host this triennial World Congress with the support of the national Department of Public Works, barely nine years after SAIA’s post-Democracy readmission to the UIA.
 

 



The UIA 2014 World Congress was held in my home town Durban, South Africa in August 2014, where I was honoured to be invited to participate on several platforms at the congress.

My involvement included; a speaker at the Opening Address of the Student Programme, a debater in the Student Debate, a Reviewer on the Scientific Committee and the initial researcher and member on the panel of Warwick Experts that advised the student competition.

During the congress, I presented a co-authored paper, as well as presenting my work in both the Global Studio Seminar and the Architectural Education Forum.

Architecural Education Forum – Education Otherwhere
Global Studio Seminar

CONFERENCE PAPER PRESENTED: 


Our understanding of architecture has significantly changed over time. Having been trainedin a post-modernist idiom in the eighties, one of the authors has witnessed the transformationof the profession and architectural design teaching over this time. Younger architects havebeen educated at a time of intense debates on relevance, justice and new professional values.They are now having to invent new roles for themselves and develop new methods of practiceas they navigate this relatively uncharted terrain.The teaching of architecture in general, and residential architecture in particular, has significantly changed over the years. Rooted in participatory design approaches and post-modern teaching pedagogy in architecture, this paper re-thinks the design studio, which isnow many times extended beyond the confines of the university campus, building metaphorical bridges between academia and communities.
 
The idea of catalysts is key in terms of achieving an intimate understanding of the settingswithin which students and staff operate and where project sites are located. Thinking in termsof catalysts influences processes of identifying potential community collaborators as well as potential project briefs and sites.Some individuals/groups are perceiv ed as “institutions” and champions within their communities: in the sense that they are known, respected, accepted and many activities seemto either be initiated by them, supported by them or revolve around them. Identifying theseindividuals/groups is paramount to the success of a project. 
 
These individuals/groups becomeagents of change. Planning and design interventions may either enhance or undermine thisagency capacity and the potential to institutionalise it. This concept is linked to previousresearch and writing on urban acupuncture and agency in the built environment. Identifying where interventions could take place, what kind of intervention and anticipatingthe kind of influence it would have on the surroundings is critical. Mapping existing energiesand forces in an area may provide indicators as to where input may have the most potential for triggering a variety of responses. 
 
That is after all the ultimate aim: to intervene where itwill generate a response thus allowing more agents to become actively involved in the formulation of the built environment. Key people/groups and small projects are thus seen as vehicles for collaboration,development and learning. This paper presents a process of engagement between the design studio and communities in a proposed framework for this particular component in theteaching of architecture. These generic concepts are reinforced through some case studiesand reflections on practice

The conference was a week long intense experience with an overwhelming programme, packed with inspiring speakers and inspired congress goers. It was great to see Durban experienced by such influential people and I hope the themes of ‘Otherwhere’ carry through long with those who attended.

Academic Paper: Critical Engagement in Informal Settlements: Lessons from the South African experience

Author(s):     Jhono Bennett & Dr. Amira Osman

BRISBANE 2013

 

 

Abstract:
This paper aims to present an approach to design thinking and teaching that takes the students and lecturers of design disciplines outside of the studio and university campus into contexts of deep complexity – informal settlements.
Conventional methods of architectural practice are deemed to be of limited use or value in informal contexts. These informally- and incrementally- developed contexts appear chaotic and of little architectural value at first glance but, when examined closer, intricate systems of decision-making and negotiation are revealed. The quality of spatial articulation that emerges could not have been achieved through formal planning and design processes. The informal process results in a distinctive spatial quality as well as complex and varied forms of ownership and habitation models.
The resultant fluidity and dynamism of these contexts offers critical lessons in design and the interaction between the different decision-makers/agents intervening at various levels of the built environment at any given time. As students and lectures engage with these contexts, employing tools such as structured mapping exercises, a better understanding can be achieved, as well as more appropriate design-decision making strategies for future interventions. By understanding the existing energies, activities and quality of routes, nodes and thresholds within these contexts, architects are better equipped to propose context-sensitive and sustainable solutions.
The intention is to better prepare students to engage in non-conventional professional practice – while the lecturers, and the institution to which they belong, are able to make meaningful contributions to a broader debate regarding the role of the profession and the professional in contexts of informality.
Through this process, it is also possible to provide much-needed services to identified vulnerable communities. However, the significance of the approach goes beyond that and involves the up-skilling of residents, the gathering of crucial data about the context, acquiring critical first-hand experience of the selected settlements; it also offers lessons on action research and knowledge on sustainable and socially-relevant technical solutions. The latter is achieved by identifying possible catalyst interventions, enabling the testing of development concepts through active build projects.
Key words: Design teaching, informality, non-conventional architectural practice, action research, and design/build.

Academic Paper: Architectural Design in Response to Vulnerable Networks

Title:        
 
Architectural Design in Response to Vulnerable Networks
Publisher/Conference Sustainable Human(e) Settlments: The Urban Challenge – ISBN: 978-0-620-54069-8

 

Author(s): Ida Breed and Jhono Bennett

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA 2012

 
Abstract:

This article maintains the importance of a contextual and humanist understanding for the design of public space through the incorporation of concrete and changing realities in the analysis of the urban environment. In an attempt to reach a greater understanding of the construction of space through social networks, qualitative fieldwork methods are used to document the flows of social process and physical matter in the immediate context of the two chosen sites for intervention. The importance of these networks for the design of built form and space are determined for each scenario.

The research underpins the design relevance in architecture (and contemporary urban life) of social activity, movement, temporality versus permanence (in form), and mobility versus fixity (in location). It places in question the traditional role and definition of architecture and their present relevance in the developing world. The result is an alternative set of considerations that define the architectural brief assuring: integration with the public realm; inclusion of emergent functions; and awareness of the importance of temporality and flexibility (with regard spatial structure and appropriation). The first case study is an urban industrial area and the second a peripheral, informal urban area. Both examples are situated in the city of Pretoria within the greater Tshwane Metropolitan Area.

Key words: Architecture; Urban Space; Emergence; Qualitative; Networks; Developing.

 

Academic Paper: The Design of Urban Form as Response to Elusive Patterns and Networks

Author(s):     Ida BreedMias Claasens and Jhono Bennett

FLORENCE, 2012

Abstract:

 

This article maintains the importance of a contextual and humanist understanding for the design of public space through the incorporation of concrete and changing realities in the analysis of the urban environment. In an attempt to reach a greater understanding of the construction of space through social networks, qualitative fieldwork methods are used to document the flows of social process and physical matter in the immediate context of the two chosen sites for intervention. The importance of these networks for the design of built form and space are determined for each scenario.

 

The research underpins the design relevance in architecture (and contemporary urban life) of social activity, movement, temporality versus permanence (in form), and mobility versus fixity (in location). It places in question the traditional role and definition of architecture and their present relevance in the developing world. The result is an alternative set of considerations that define the architectural brief assuring: integration with the public realm; inclusion of emergent functions; and awareness of the importance of temporality and flexibility (with regard spatial structure and appropriation). The first case study is an urban industrial area and the second a peripheral, informal urban area. Both examples are situated in the city of Pretoria within the greater Tshwane Metropolitan Area.
Key words: Architecture; Urban Space; Emergence; Qualitative; Networks; Developing.