The Swedish Inquire-sition

 

 
 
(Bennett, 2012)



The Programme
 
The programme provided by the Royal Institute of Arts Stockholm, Sweden, is a post post-graduate multi-disciplinary research course in urbanism. The students are all professionals with master’s degrees behind their names as well as a few years of practical experience.
 
Excerpt from the outlining document Just Grounds: Cape Town:
 
 
 
‘Within the context of the series Happy Grounds, we will discuss alternative concepts of development, growth and happiness, from both a global as well as African perspective. 
 
We will investigatethe term spatial justice and those theoreticians and practitioners who are working to further develop this concept. 
 
We will meet the young Africa, by looking at the city through the eyes of its children and youth. We will revisit the philosophical and architectural discussion from the late 70’s which was informed by its fascination with the everyday. 
 
We will also discuss urbanism in relation to post­ colonialism, post­apartheid, mobility, migration and biological diversity. 
 
Above all, we will take part of the intensive debate concerning the African city that is going on right now in Cape Town. The goal of the course is to formulate an innovative urban planning proposal for a part of Cape Town which can contribute to its development.
In addition, the proposal should contribute to an international discourse on our sustainable urban futures.’
 
 
 
Their pre-research included literature studies of several non-fiction authors of South Africa and seminal readings on authors such as Paula Friere, Abdou Maliq Simone, Edgar Pieterse and other referential authors in this area of study. The research was channelled into several group exercises within a work shopped environment in which broad conclusions on themes and possible solutions to be investigated were discussed.
 
As part of their programme a research trip to Cape Town was planned, made up of an intensive two week focus period of tours, lectures and small scale research projects to determine ‘Future Visions’  for Cape Town and possible identify ‘Seeds of Change’ during their time in the Mother City.
 
 
The Swedish Armada in action (Bennett,2012)
 
The Swedish Inquire-sition
 
This two week non-stop Afro-Urban-Safari was made up of ten hour jam packed days with practitioners involved in cutting edge of local urban development across Cape Town.
 
The group itself was broken into four projects teams, each focusing on a different area in Cape Town, and a project within:
 
·        Princess Vlei open space scheme: with Henrik Ernstson and initiator Kelvin Cohran
·        Dunoon: Inkwenkwezi Secondary School with Heinrich Wolff and the school staff
·        Various garden sites in the Cape Flats: Home gardens with Soil for Life
·        Langa – Hostels to Home Project: with Fadley Isaacs and Architects Associated
 
These groups were then expected to produce findings from further inquiry and exploration between the scheduled tours and lectures, identifying the ‘visions’ and ‘seeds’ mentioned prior.
 
These findings were to be presented at the end of the two week period to a panel of local experts in these fields including, Heinrich Wolff, Mokena Makeka, Edgar Pieterse, Fadley Isaacs, Henrik Ernstonn, Soil for life team members, Architects Associated, Professor Iain Louw  and a various other professionals involved in the build-up research.
 
 
Presentation from Ismail Fourok, from the African Centre for Cities (KKH,2012)
 
My Role Within
 
I was invited by Gordon Pirie, of the African Centre forCities, to join the Swedish Armada, as a sort of guide to Cape Town, but also as an opportunity to learn and explore Cape Town through the eyes of a foreigner. My position within the group allowed me to sit anonymously in front of local speakers and hear uncensored accounts of their work as a total outsider.
 
For me it was an opportunity to meet the people I had spent an introspective year, my own master’s dissertation, reading about and see their work at first hand while adding to my collective understanding of Cape Town within South Africa.
 
 
A school teacher of Inkwenkwezi and myself (KKH,2012)
 
The Tour
 
The following brief photographic summary depicts a series of moments from the afore mentioned Afro-Urban-Safari. An amazing and rich series of tours, lectures and trips that covered more in 10 days than most people in Cape Town see in their lifetime.
 
Due to circumstances mentioned later, I lost 90 percent of the documented pictures The rest of the pictures are made up of photos from the students with a few of my own surviving pictures.
 
The Swedish Armada…. (KKH, 2012)
 
 
 
Architect, Heinrich Wolff of Noero Wolff Architects guiding the group through the school (Bennett, 2012)



Inkwenkwezi Secondary School  (Bennett,2012)
 Informal Housing Settlement Tour with Heinrich Wolff, Dunoon. 
 
Walking through the built fabric (Bennett, 2012)
 
Incremental Self Built Rental unit with Vegetable Shop below (Bennett,2012)
 
Entering the the more ‘formal’ section of Dunoon, with the school looming in the background (KKH,2012)
 
Service allocations in Dunoon (KKH,2012) 
Hostels to Homes, Langa, with Fadley Isaacs.

 

 
 
The communal street space (KKH, 2012) 
 
The reactions (KKH, 2012)  
 
Langa Hostels, service road (KKH,2012)

 
Soil For Life, Constantia, with Pat Featherstone   

 

 Talkwith Pat Featherstone (KKH, 2012)
 
  Green Food Wall (KKH, 2012)
 
Soil for Life: Local projects in Cape Flats 
 
Woodward Circel Community Garden (KKH, 2012) 
 
  Various other local Gardens (KKH, 2012) 
 
   Various other local Gardens (KKH, 2012) 
 
 
 Bottom Road Sanctuary, Grass Park, with Kelvin Cohrane and Henrik Ernstoln
 

  Discusion at Bottom Road Sanctuary with Kelvin Cohrane (KKH, 2012)

 

 

The sanctuary (KKH, 2012) 
 
Various Post Apartheid Projects, Philipi & Nyanga, with Profesor Iain Louw
 
Philipi Car Wash by Jacqui Perrin (KKH, 2012)   
 
 Philipi Car Wash (KKH, 2012)   
 
  Philipi Car Wash (KKH, 2012)  
 
 Philipi Car Wash – the Swedes learning isiXhosa (KKH, 2012)  
 
 
  Philipi Station (KKH, 2012)  
 
 Philipi Station – Overlooking Cosova (KKH, 2012)  
 
  Philipi Station  (KKH, 2012) 
 
 
 Long Distance Taxi Rank, Nyanga (KKH, 2012)   
 
 A lost Swede in South Africa… (KKH, 2012)   
 
 
 Meat Market, Carin Smuts  (KKH, 2012)   
 
Kayalitsha, VPUU projects with SUN Development PTY.
 
 
 IGUMBI LOKUHLANGANELA – Community Centre, Sun Development (KKH, 2012)  
 

Local Creche, Burundi, Kayalitsha (KKH, 2012)  

 
  VPUU Building Harare, Kayalitsha (KKH, 2012)  
 
VPUU Building, Kayalitsha Station, Kayalitsha (KKH, 2012)   
 
 
VPUU route, Kayalitsha (KKH, 2012)   
 
Various Studio Visits, CS Studio/ARG/Local Artists, with Carin Smuts and Gita Goven

 

 
 
Gita Goven presenting her work with ARG (Bennett, 2012)
 
CS Studio (KKH, 2012)
 
Local Artists in Woodstock, Cape Town (KKH, 2012) 

 

 

The Dunoon Group
 
Professor Henrietta Palmer, who leads the programme at the Royal Institute of Arts, suggested it was better if I was involved directly with one of the groups. 
 
I chose the project working in the informal settlement of Dunoon as I had the most experience in this type of project and enjoy the process uncovering the intangibles of developing areas, as well as an interest in the much acclaimed Inkwenkwezi Secondary by Neoro Wolff Architects.
 
The Dunoon group was made up of two visual and audio artists, an architect and a bureaucrat who works in the equivalent of the Cape Town City Council back in Stockholm.
 
The initial outlined task was to work with the school as well as the condition whereby local residents of Dunoon were building structures in place of the allocated government housing and re-structuring their own urban environment by their own means.
 
The group decided to focus on the school, as it was the most stable element in the context and within the time limits available this seemed sensible.
 
Inkwenkwezi Secondary School in Dunoon, Western Cape (Bennett,2012) 
  
The Research
At first  the inquiry was fairly loose with the group members discussing their ideas of ‘future visions’ and what determined ‘seeds of change’. The group agreed that they would set up a series of questions asking the various actors involved in and around the school how they saw themselves in the past, present and future in order to ‘triangulate their perspectives.
 
Triangulation of perspective (Bennett,2012)
 
These questions would be limited to the school to delimit the scope and range of work needed to be covered in the available time. Effectively the school became a metaphorical lens of perspective from which to view the area of Dunoon.
 
 Lens of perspective – the school (Bennett,2012)
 
It became very apparent that the group wanted to understand to connect – to respond. They wanted to engage with the context and the people directly involved, mainly the children, and discover what their hopes and dreams were within their environment.
 
Interviews with students (Bennett,2012)
 
From the outset the group seemed genuinely interested in understanding, in the process of discovery, but as they began interviewing the school staff  it became clear that to remain objective and clear in the process was going to be difficult. There were various incidents which made this apparent, including a miscommunication in regard to the permissions of the group in the school-leading to further delays, a car break in, where R25 000 worth of camera equipment and various other items were stolen in plain sight and broad daylight.
 
The Swedes cleaning up, while I talk to the police (KKH, 2012)
Several heated discussions arose from the initial findings on site of the mixed perceptions of Inkwenkwezi and Dunoon from those interviewed. This led the group into a debate on what defined positive and negative factors of development in areas such as Dunoon. The discussions were centered on the different views held by the group members in regard to what defined concepts of ‘equality’ and ‘justice’ and whether they were appropriate to define and expect in certain conditions.   

 

 
This was commented on by Heinrich Wolff, the Architect of the school, during a preliminary presentation. Heinrich made note that the context could not be summarized in general terms, but that to understand the environment the group should engage directly with the context of Dunoon. The groups defended this by commenting that with the available limits, the decision to focus around the school was intentional.
 
 
Dunoon Group, exploring the school (KKH,2012)
 
As important as these debates around defining the intangible factors of positive development, it felt as though the group was constantly comparing Swedish apples with South African Naartjies.
 
Presentation
The  groups then presented their projects to the panel in an afternoon exercise at the end of the 10 day process.
Each group had 30 minutes to present their work, describing the findings they had uncovered as well as possible solutions for future ‘seeds’ in their contexts.

Group Presentations (KKH, 2012)
 
The Dunoon group arrived at a multi-perspective narrative of their experience with the school. Beginning with a metaphor of the school as a Theater of Action, based on Iain Louw’s writing.
 
Multiperspective map of Inkwenkwezi Secondary (Dunoon Group,2012)  

 

 
Metaphor for analysis – Theatre of Action (Dunoon Group, 2012) 
They expounded on the diverse nature of the school, in that it could host so many different conditions simultaneously – a theft just outside, church groups inside, and spaces of safety for learners, etc.
Analysis of process around school ( Dunoon Group, 2012) 
 
They then described the school through the different perspectives of the various interviewees. Each member playing the role of a fictional character in the ‘theatre of action’ and explaining their story.
 
The group then summarized their process in a possible method for future development – a metaphorical ‘bracelet’ of approach.
 
The bracelet signifying an element that carries intangible value while remaining close to one. This bracelet metaphor could be taken further in allowing it open up and expand into new directions.
 
The Bracelet – A metaphor for future development 

 

Comments on the panel were varied, but carried a general positive tone towards the nature of the work undertaken by the students as a whole.
*
What I discovered after the presentation, was that the Dunoon group was looking to find real possible interventions to be implemented at a later stage. This explained some of their urgency in determining ‘solutions’ for the problems.

In the end I felt the product of all the groups were very general compared to the richness of the exercise, with the true value lying in the process of immersion undertaken by the Swedes into an entirely different context.
 
Naartjies and Apples
A speaker from the Sustainability Institute asked  a question that any researcher in such a field should ask themselves:
 
“What process of un-learning have you undergone to prepare you for this experience?”
 
Perhaps the degree or nature of open mindedness of any professional in contrasting contexts should be constantly questioned. This is true of not just foreign visitors, but applies to local professionals who struggle to open themselves to the alternative realities faced by South Africans in poor underserviced.
 
*
 
From the moment I sat down on the bus with the Swedes, the questions began. Questions which I assumed I had a fairly grounded understanding of. Having spent the better part of my tertiary education investigating these topics I felt that the opinions I had fostered were more appropriate than an outsiders as I had been involved hands on, and had personally dealt with these contexts and associated problems.
 
The truth I feel is that the underlying issues at hand are so interlaced with so many contextual, political and cultural factors that the understanding I had developed is in fact as subjectively based from within as the pre-conceptions the Swedes had from outside.
 
It has solidified my own resolve to stay honest to my personal mandate of explorations of the African urban context, and future studies within my career.
 
The Swedes, trapped by a system of rules (Bennett, 2012) 

References
Jhono Bennett, Author. Photos
KKH, Royal Institute of Arts, Stockholm Sweden. Photos
Dunoon Group, KKH. Photos

 

 

Zanzibar – Documenting the Intangible Heritage Value of Stone Town

Mapping the Open Public Space of 

 

 Stone Town, Zanzibar
 
“…I’m not going-to-cook-it, but I’ll order it from ZANZIBAR!!!”
Jack Black, 2005

Two weeks after completing my masters dissertation I received the news that my fragile leftover self would be able to join the University of Pretoria’s research expedition to Zanzibar‘s Stone Town.

The trip was planned over the December break and would have us in Tanzania for three weeks over Christmas. With no other way to say no and the possibility of an East African adventure I happily agreed to help in the search for:

 ‘…the intangible values that makes Stone Town a World Heritage Site

Background

The trip was funded by the Flemmish Government and the University of Pretoria with support from the Stone Town Conservation and Development Authority and the Department of Urban and Rural Planning.

 
Credits taken from the 2011 report (UP,2011)

Our mandate was to document and identify the intangible elements that gave Stone Town its World Heritage Status, and from the documentation make recommendation how to preserve these elements in the face of current development. 

Intro

Stone Town is located on the South Island of Uguja, known as Zanzibar. Formed as a major port city on the East African trade route, Stone Town stands as an Architecturally social reserve for the Swahili culture.

Location map taken from the 2011 report (UP,2011)

Our first day was spent taking in the intimate spaces that made the street ways and public open spaces of Stone Town.

The UP team exploring Stone Town
A portrait of street life
The major public spaces are found in the beaches
The famous hand carved Zanzibar doors
Jaws Corner, one of the most well known squares
Bicycles, motorbikes and scooters play havoc as one moves through the narrow streets
The accommodation we were given – on the right
Culture within development
 
The peace memorial within Stone Town
Our hosts from the STCDA, leading the tour
Street cleaning
Maintainence being performed on a coral stone buildings
An entrance to a mosque
The Forodahni night market
Private square beyond the street
The romantically placed upper levels of living
what happens when you get lost in Zanzibar taxi trying to get home
 
Various elements of street life in Stone Town
What we discovered was one of the true elements that made Stone Town – the barazza’s.

The Research

The process of documenting the squares was our main task. We worked closely with the departments involved in Stone Town’s cultural preservation and urban development.

Our briefing from the authorities
Our home base was located in the STCDA’s offices. Part of the former palace grounds to the House of Wonders, we were set up in the former library of the East Wing.
Our Zanzi-Offices


Preparing for the documentation process
View from our Zanzi-Office’s library window to the House of Wonders
The inner courtyard of our Zanzi-Office, the STCDA building

In the field

Cover to the 2011 UP Report (UP,2011)

The plan was to work from the University of Minnesota’s outline of the 114 public squares of Stone Town, and document the aspects of each square that made up the intangible heritage values.

Due to time constraints the STCDA identified squares of importance (30) and we strategised as to how to capture the required information.

The team in the field

We settled on a methodology of capturing the nature of the square objectively through a panoramic view, noted elements of ‘importance’ and took several interviews from square users and passer bys.

Methodology taken from the report #1  (UP,2011)
Methodology taken from the report #2  (UP,2011)

We split into several groups made up of STCDA staff members, volunteers from the local University and University of Pretoria students.

My team and myself in the field #1
My team and myself in the field #2
My team and myself in the field #3
My team and myself in the field #4
This information was then painstakingly captured and documented into a graphic report to UNESCO.
The Square register (UP,2011)
Example of captured square #1 (UP,2011)
Example of captured square #1 (UP,2011)
Example of captured square #2 (UP,2011)
Example of captured square #2 (UP,2011)

South Island

During this time, on the first weekend, our hosts treated us to a day trip of the South Island.

The trip took us on a dow sail to a bizzarly remote tidal island made up of only sand and hundreds of faux Italian swimsuit models.
Island of the Italian swim suit

Here we spent the day snorkelling, sun bathing and relaxing. Later, as the tide drew in, the Dow returned to take us home.

Mbweni Ruins

During the week, we sought to escape the hustle of Stone Town. After meeting a group of expat locals, they told us of the Mbweni ruins hotel. Just south of Stone Town, it’s definitely one of Zanzibar’s secret sunset locations.

Presentation

After two weeks of toiling in he streets of Stone Town, we presented our findings to a panel of local authorities and the STCDA in the halls of the palace building.

Impromptu meeting hall
Preparing for the speech
The presentation under way
Standard post research trip group photo

North Island

A very much needed break was taken after the research work. The team hopped onto one of the infamous Dallallas (Basically a taxi on the back of a flatbed truck) to the North Island, headed to Nungwe.
No space in the dallalla after 37 people are squeezed in
A local gathering we came across on the way north

Arriving at the picturesque North Island at Nungwe, we took a water taxi to the Kendwa Rocks resort

Nungwe Resort, paradise?
Water Taxi
And as all tourists in Zanzibar, we took full advantage of the photo oppurtunities in the poetic sun sets of the East African Islands.

Using all the connections we made in Stone Town, we arranged a dow cruise to a snorkelling reef on the far end of the North Island.

Our last afternoon in Zanzibar was spent relaxing on the beach while we watched the North Islanders performing on the beach.
 

A very conscious and restrained effort has been made not to mention in detail the nature of Zanzibar’s ‘Beach Boys’ and the phenomena of the Jungle Safari that takes place all over Sub Saharan Africa… Lets just say apparently if your a pale African, your not really African…

Zanzibar – land of sunsets?
Heading home

Research into foreign context

During the trip, we discussed at length the notion of foreign research’s aiming to quantify intangibles in unfamiliar contexts. Is it fair to claim we understand the value of Stone Town, a 500 year old settlement, in two weeks of research?

While the team felt frustrated at the time frame we were given, it forced us to make quick decisions and realise our limitations. In the end we agreed on an honest depiction of what we saw, captured as objectively and clearly as possible. We aimed to let this exercise set up the framework for further research by documenting the process as much as the findings we identified.

Surely a fresh perspective should add value to any subject? Perhaps, but from our side we felt that our own perspectives were broadened in regard to looking into identifying ‘elements of value’ in our own cultures back at home.

*
Tail piece

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The Corobrick Student of the Year -2010 finalists were exhibited at the Wanderes Club, Illovo in Johannesburg in April this year.

Several of us ‘bou-kinders’ and other students were fortunate enough to attend the exhibition and the accompanied lecture by Paragon Architecture’s Henning Erasmus.

The choices we all face
Architecture Karate

Being heavily involved in my dissertation at the moment, this was a great opportunity to see what the country’s finest architecture students of 2010 had to offer.

*
THE FINALISTS
INTERPRETATION CENTER

PJ Klippie De Toit
Tshwane University of Technology

    \    

The opportunity that this unique site of natural and cultural heritage presents, for establishing a new ecological paradigm of connectivity and interdependence, is utilised by this design through spherical geometry and a cyclical narrative. The crater, if properly understood, reminds us of our common origin and place in the universe as well as the essential unity of all existence. 
The thesis maintains that the building will be a heuristic or didactic device that reinforces this connection. The narrative, an elliptical walkway referencing the cycle of eternal return and metaphor for the timeline of the universe and earth, explains the evolution of the universe through various interpretation venues, each creating an experience analogous as well as symbolic of the event that occurred at that point in the history of creation.
excerpt taken from http://www.keepitgreen.co.za 

  
INNER CITY INTERCHANGE
Cazir Naroth
The University of Kwa-Zulu Natal

 

The projects aims to bring the possibility of a fully integrated modal interchange facility to the South African city. The site, which is already zoned for public transport, is situated in the Durban CBD at the intersection of existing major road and rail infrastructure, with the interchange forming the backbone of a greater urban scheme.
Global environmental and economic issues, along with local cultural and social history provide a solid justification for the promotion of public transport and the scheme seeks to create a thriving hub at a key point in a city that is thirsty for an injection of activity. The proposed complex allows for the seamless integration of busses, taxis and trains whilst attempting to use transport as a tool to create civic spaces wherein socioeconomic integration can naturally occur. The potential of such a facility calls for a solution on a greater urban level, and my scheme seeks to promote both the rejuvenation and development of the surrounding areas by proposing a precinct master plan that suggests new development whilst reinforcing the existing infrastructure.
In essence the design provides a spine of pedestrian life and a spectrum of positive development, which radiate from a contemporary urban transport landmark. 
excerpt taken from http://www.keepitgreen.co.za  

ECHOES IN ARCHITECTURE
Pierre De Lange
University of the Free State

Echoes in Architecture was an investigation into a how the intervention of a new building can reconciliate a neglected historical structure. Specifically, the old Rissik Street Post Office in the Johannesburg City Centre which was devastated by a fire in November 2009. The project aimed to marry contemporary and historic architecture to achieve an equilibrium between preserving cultural heritage and providing a memorable urban space. The result was a subtle geometric insertion so that the new appears to be hugged by the existing ruin. This created a building with two fronts; the face of memory (old) and hope (new).
excerpt taken from http://www.keepitgreen.co.za 

SECURING OUR FUTURE
Nikhil Tricam
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

Close Ups…



My project focuses on introducing urban spatial and formal hierarchy into the township through the introduction of an Urban Health Precinct with emphasis on the detailed design of a Mother & Child Centre, in the township of KwaZakhele, Port Elizabeth. The choice of building type stems from the addressing of current social concerns, namely the lack of adequate healthcare facilities in our township areas as well as alarmingly low infant care standards. The treatise focuses on the investigation of the constituents of nurturing & healing space, as well as the introduction of identity and a sense of place within a historically segregationalist, architectural identity-devoid context. The components of the building include a pre- and post- natal facility, delivery and recovery as well as an educational component focused on, but not limited to, the empowerment of women form the community, drawing on their experience as mothers and caregivers to educate younger and first time mothers.
Nikhil also won the best use of clay brick for his entry. He says, “I chose to make extensive use of brick masonry in my design due primarily to the sense of permanence conveyed through it’s tectonic, which was integral to the conceptual direction my design has taken. The spatial and formal possibilities afforded by bricks are well documented and it was my intention to exploit these. The environmental imperative, affordability and relative ease of construction were all factors in the selection of brick masonry as a building material. Personal preference and a predilection for the works of Louis Kahn and Rogelio Salmona was influential in the manner in which the brickwork was employed in my design.  
excerpt taken from http://www.keepitgreen.co.za 
  

PROXIMITY
Calayde Davies
University of Pretoria 

Close Ups…

The thesis generates an architectural model for vertical hydroponic agriculture for the city of Pretoria on the existing industrial heritage site of the Old Pretoria West Power Station. The project aims to aid in the development of a new productive urban building, productive urban landscape and ultimately a productive urban society for South Africa in the 21st century. The design also caters for an urban market and agriculture park as part of the food factory concept. The project is sustainable and resource-efficient and aims to become a model for urban reform through urban agriculture across the city of Pretoria. The design is a seven-storey indoor food-growing building, constructed entirely from contemporary and experimental building materials in the forms of structural bamboo, structural steel and bamboo-reinforced concrete. 
excerpt taken from http://www.keepitgreen.co.za 
 

QUARANTINE
Catherine De Souza
University of Witwaterstrand 

I believe that may be Catherine De Souza peeping up from behind the model…

 

Close Ups…

My project explores the conditions of quarantine of patients infected with drug-resistant TB at Sizwe Infectious Diseases Hospital on the east of Johannesburg. 
It does not seek to liberate them, to do away with the institution, or to integrate the hospital with its surrounding suburban context, but rather recognises the irrefutable need for such institutions in the face of the very serious public health threat posed by drug-resistant TB. 
The project thus has two interrelated aims.

I To change the nature and quality of quarantine
II To capitalise on the natural resources of the site  This involves improving the quality of life of patients, creating a sense of connectedness to the world outside, and providing possibilities for income-generating work.  


However, it contends that equally important is the need to pay attention to the human rights and dignity of the people who find themselves, through no fault of their own, held in these institutions in conditions not unlike prison.
The second aim is to rehabilitate, conserve and make accessible to the public the grasslands and watercourses of the site by incorporating them into a nature reserve.
The architectural design works with the idea of territorialising the boundary, layering thresholds and creating new possibilities for passage; it exploits non-mechanised means to create infection-safe living environments; and it explores possibilities of landscape integration which are uncharacteristic of modern institutions.

excerpt taken from http://www.keepitgreen.co.za

KL-METAMATIC (Winner)
Stefan Van Biljon
University of Cape Town

Close Ups…
 The Structure
Supporting Models

The tension between an industrial site and natural forces inspired the project at Cape Town’s Duncan Dock.
A seawall manifold reintroduces water to the reclaimed site. The tide is choreographed to create a changing landscape that registers the passage of time as the sea gradually consumes the site. The effects of the flood are used to amplify the atmosphere of the site.
The flood machine communicates in gesture, compelling guests to interpret its response to the elements. Atmospheric restlessness is used to create a place of contemplation.
Facing systematic destruction, the building haunts KL-Berth. This haunting is a function of patience and risk. The site becomes a barometer for wider environmental issues.

excerpt taken from http://www.keepitgreen.co.za

*
As a mid-masters student the exhibition was incredibly inspirational while simultaneously very daunting…
There was much debate amongst the boukinders after the exhibition, especially around the winning entry.
Many felt the project wasn’t a true architectural project for an Masters in Achitecture (Prof) degree, while others were simply too impressed to see anything wrong with the project.
There is unconfirmed talk that the student was awarded 100% by his final jury panel during is masters presentation, and was told by one of his own faculty that if he, the faculty member, had it his way – he would have failed him.
I guess that is the nature of these designs of architectural poetry, some people will love every expressive piece of the work while others will fail to see the point; you’ll never know until the last minute whether the project is what you hoped, or if it was worth putting in all your chips for the win.
 *

Pre Masters Building Study

Every December my family’s evacuation from Durban to the relatively drier and calmer Western Cape takes us through the Transkei, Eastern Cape and Western Cape at break neck speed to lessen the hassle of the trip, a 1660km journey through the N2.
*Note 1

Having been involved in this pilgrimage for most of my life, and hardly experiencing more than a 5 minute fast food breakfast en route, I was determined to see what the N2 had to offer me as a student, a South African and Durbanite living in Pretoria with attachment issues from his time in Cape Town. 
The Blue Book
After a brief online look into what information was available on line for an Architectural Tourist, a flip through through Ora Jouberts Blue Book and a Friday bunny chow session with my former undergraduate lecturer Derek Van Heerdan I had mapped out a rough assortment of stops along the N2.

The focus of the trip began as a quite broad look into contemporary Architecture in developing settlements of South Africa – I had no specific question to answer, I felt the journey was more a search for a question rather than a search for an answer.

*
*NOTE: All images from Author unless indicated. *Note 1 IMAGE: adapted from http://www.gallerytours.net/images/1time-Map.gif
SOUTHERN KWA-ZULU NATAL/EASTERN CAPE

Shayamoya

The first stop was just outside Kokstad, Kwa-Zulu Natal in the small settlement of Shayamoya to visit  the 7 Fountains Primary School.

 
The primary school was designed by East Coast Architects  and commissioned by Oprah’s Angel Network as part of their community involvement in South Africa.
 


An East Coast Architect scheme would not be complete a Jojo Tank or an indigenous garden
 
The Nelson Mandela Heritage Trail

While searching for Architectural Tourist sites online, I came across several links to a Nelson Mandela Historical Route.

The articles described a network of famous sites related to Nelson Mandela’s life such as Qunu, the place of Mandela’s birth, Mveso, Mthata and highlighting points such as University of Fort Hare in Alice, where he was educated, and going further into Pretoria and Johannesburg as well as Cape Town. The route also mentions Steve Biko’s grave site in King Williams Town.
Many of these featured on the N2, with the closest stop being the Youth & Heritage Centre in Qunu. Designed by Stauch Vorster Architects.
At this point in the trip there were some technical issues with the camera, to illustrate the points I have added a one or two referenced images.
A vegetable garden at the center
IMAGE: Pg 392; 10 Years 100 Buildings, Joubert Et Al



The route included the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthata, curated by Mashabane Rose Architects. This museum is located in the heart of Mtatha but seemed to only be frequented by European tourists.
IMAGE: http://www.southafrica.info/travel/cultural/mandela-route.htm
IMAGE:http://www.southafrica.info/travel/cultural/mandela-route.htm
IMAGE:http://www.southafrica.info/travel/cultural/mandela-route.htm
The next intended stop was the Mveso Museum Pavilion, designed by Cohen and Judin Architects but the bad condition of the road leading to the heritage site and quickly fading daylight forced us to move on.
IMAGE: Pg 389; 10 Years 100 Buildings, Joubert Et Al
IMAGE: Pg 388; 10 Years 100 Buildings, Joubert Et Al
PORT ELIZABETH

After a restless night on a University digs couch in Grahamstown and a in situ camera repair stint, we headed towards Port Elizabeth to visit the Red Location Museum of Struggle by by the Cape Town firm of Noero & Wolff Architects.
Memory Boxes, intended to symbolise the twilight of memory
The Museum sits in the heart of New Brighton

The Ubuntu Center

While in Red Location I we came across a recently completed building, the Ubuntu Center by South African born and now California based firm, Field Architecture .

SOMEWHERE ON THE N2…

I’ve come across this building many times before and every time I see it I feel this would make quite an interesting project to work on. Unfortunately I can’t remember exactly where it is but its somewhere between Knysna and Mossel Baai on the N2.

There appears to be a whole community that has settled around this former Industrial building. I didn’t get close enough to see the extent of their interaction with the structure itself , but a large tree is growing inside.

CAPE TOWN

Arriving in the mother city I found accommodation with a former classmate from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, who happened to have a spectacular view from his beautiful home in Blouberg. Courtesy of my host I had a breathtaking view from my ‘Cape Office’ while preparing for the year ahead.

Cape Office View. Average.
IMAGE: BY JOSHUA PUTZ
IMAGE: BY JOSHUA PUTZ

The Cape stop was a twofold affair. In one regard I had much administrative issues to resolve from my former life in the Mountain City, on the other hand I had met many people during my time with Architecture for Humanity who were involved in projects in Kayalitsha and other developing areas in the Cape that I felt would be of interest towards my pre-masters resarch.

Kirstenbosch Gardens

  
Between my administrative obligations I found time to visit Kirstenbosch for some mountain time and came across this very interesting exhibition building in the gardens.  Dylan Lewis‘s sculptures have always fascinated me and this building together with his work was well worth the surprise.

A planted wall wraps around the exhibition centre
The UNTAMED exhibition is a collaboration between sculptor  Dylan Lewis, Architect Enrico Daffonchio and Poet Ian Mcullum

Kayalitsha

I was fortunate enough to attend a trip in Kayalitsha planned by one such contact, Verena Grips, whose involvement with an NGO called MatchBox was of great interest towards my now narrowing focus on developing areas of South Africa.

MatchBox aims towards improving the quality of life and learning of children in townships. Verena had arranged a trip with another student who was looking into Township Tourism in South Africa.

The first stop in that trip was the Look Out Hill Visitor Information Centre, here we met a local tour guide  from Coffee Bean Routes tours.

Our tour guide took us through the centre, where we met some of local ladies who work with another group to produce hand bags to sell in market.

As the name implies the centre is overlooked by one of the higher points in Kayalitsha and offers a panoramic view of the settlement.



From here we visited the largest shopping mall in the area, the Nonqubela Link Mall , this mall sits adjacent to a train stop and between is serviced by a local market. What we found interesting was that an informal market could exist with a formal mall and still function.

The ‘formal’
The ‘informal’
View from the station platform

As part of the township tourism our guide had planned the next few stops at woman run local B&B’s. These ladies were running successfull lodging facilities and invited us in for a cup of tea and some interesting stories of foreign visitors, radio talks shows and how they share their skill base with others in the same business field.

Vicki’s Bed and Breakfast



Verena’s personal focus on creche’s and day care facilities that have been adapted from donated containers such as the Zanoxolo Educare Creche took us to some of these spots in Kayalitsha.


In true township tourism fashion we finished the day off with a visit to a local shebeen. While Mzoli’s in Gugelthu is probably the most well known of Cape Town’s township hotspots, it was Kayalitsha’s less known counterpart Ace’s that we chose as our lunchtime destination.


STELLENBOSCH

Transdiciplinary Workshop

The final stop in the trip was planned for Stellenbosch’s Lynedoche Village. Here, I was registered for a week long workshop seminar on Interdisciplinary Sustainability at the Sustainability Institute.

The workshop itself was intended for PHD candidates, but the organisers were happy to accommodate me at a pre-masters level.

The balcony of the institute became the place of dissemination of the course’s content

The workshop was attended by a diverse cross section of professionals who, like me, were interested in learning of cross-disciplinary approaches towards sustainability.

The disciplinary spectrum included; a physchologist, a graphic designer, microbiologist, nutritionists, industrial designer, IT economists, social scientists, geological and environmental scientist and even a hydrologist to name a few.

 

The course was run by two representatives from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and overseen by John Van Breda from the Sustainability Institute.

The week included definitions and discussions around Transdisciplinary Work with local and foreign case studies and exercises in defining roles and outcomes of the various parties in Transdisciplinary Work. 

Part of the exercises involved defining the research questions and role playing processes on ascertaining how to set up a research project around a Transdisciplinary team. This exercise proved to undo much of how I had planned on tackling my thesis topic and gave me a clear insight of where to go in my masters year.

While the exercises and explanations of what Transdisciplinary Work  appeared to be much in the scope of how Architects and other designers work through problems the center itself held an interest for me.

The Sustainability Institute

A render of the built structure as presented on the walls of the center on canvas

The building is located in the area of Lynedoch, adjacent the train station and according to the staff, the site was historical a weekend hotel for the upper echelon of Cape Society to ‘escape’ the city and enjoy a game of croquet in the Boland.

The center and the surrounding gardens
The existing hotel and new centre in contrast

The center now is a research hub for Sustainability in South Africa and is globally recognised as a leader in the field headed by Mark Swilling. For the detailed story of the Sustainability Institute click here.



Over meals provided on site by the institute gardens the informal meeting and sitting areas inside and outside proved to be the most interesting part of the week as this is where the real interdisciplinary discussion took place. 

The centre was designed by Cape Town’s ARC Architects and wraps around what appears to be a cement block barn structure on site that was adapted to become a community hall for the historically disadvantaged community of Lynedoche.


 The adapted barn houses a rock store in its basement that works as a thermal change mass to cool the class rooms of the primary school. The relationship between the primary school, the community came across as the strongest intangibly sustainable aspect of the entire centre. All day school children and local residents animate the and enrich the atmosphere of the institute facility.

Historic photo of construction and thermal rock store

The community hall uses a system of wind funnels and louvres to cool the space itself, while the thermal rock store serves the primary school facilities.

Wind scoops work with wind chimneys on the roof in a similar fashion to malqaf  found in Islamic Architecture


The converted barn is clad with adobe bricks that serve an undefined role, perhaps only ornamental?

The center interacts closely with this community and facilitates a primary school on site as well as subsided housing on the estate as well and harvesting programs in the area along with local farmers and residents.

The thermal rock store ventilation link to cool the primary school.

 



Day care facility with solar roof tiles

The estate boasts an array of off grid systems that deal with waste treatment, energy & food production. These systems as well a daycare facility on site aim to provide the local residents of Lyndoche with jobs while acting as a model for socially as well as environmentally responsible facility.

Vertically Integrated Constructed Wetland
The Biolytix System

A large portion of the job creation as well as the training for students comes from the garden systems on site. At the moment they grow there own vegetables on site

Recycling post and agriculture on site


An age old meeting venue, under the shade of an old tree

Indigenous tree plantation

The facility is housed by its own eco-estate. These houses work within the framework of the institute and provide research data as well as accommodation. They employ various techniques and processes to lower their respective carbon footprints.

Part of the eco estate with the black water collection pionts
*

When asked in December what would be an appropriate focus for a thesis topic, it seemed to continue in Slovo Park was the obvious option: strong connections with the community had been made, the context was mapped and an insight into the needs and dreams of the people had been established.

Slovo Park Group Framework (Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Hattingh, Makgabutlane)
The first draft of the proposal I outlined the development and research of the spruit area between the two communities and an architectural investigation into how that could be done through a built intervention possibly exploring urban agriculture.
*
My time cross-country gave me space to reflect on my time in Slovo Park and Pretoria,bringing a more clear understanding of my role as an architect and designer in developing South Africa
The workshop at the Sustainability Institute provided me with a sharper focus on my thesis year and liberated me from my pre-conceptions of the role of architects in social upliftment and research and a result forced my decision not to work in Slovo Park in 2011.
The trip left me with more questions than answers, a disposition that I’m starting to feel is likely to be more commonplace in my year ahead while in pursuit of my Masters Degree.
2010 END.

The Slovo Park Project – The Story

The Slovo Park Project 
 
The Slovo Park Project began as a small research project in the University of Pretoria’s Housing and Urban Environments module of the Architectural Honours Year. 
 
It quickly gained momentum in its relation to the community it desire to understand the problems faced by South Africa’s Urban Poor. The process culminated in a joint project towards a built goal with not only a physical product but many intangible outcomes that extended beyond simply ‘another community project’. 
 
The streets are your playground in Slovo

 
Introduction 
In 2010 the University of Pretoria Architecture Department, Boukunde, offered its Honors year students the opportunity to work with a small informal community located 10km south of Soweto named Slovo Park.
 
Location of Slovo in relation to Johannesburg City
 
The Research


The student group of Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Hattingh and Makgabutlane, began the project with a sensitive and holistic research process to try and comprehensively understand the socio-economic context of day to day life in Slovo Park.
 
*This article features snippets from the first draft of the book Slovo Park Project: A process of understanding.
Edited by Claudia Filipe and compiled by Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk 
contributions from Makgabutlane and Hattingh
 
 
This involved several mapping exercises, interviews and detailed sketches of the local housing typologies. 
 
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
 
 
Measuring up the existing
 
Discovering the world inside Slovo
       
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
 
 The residents of Slovo opened their doors to the research team’s questions

(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
Playgrounds of Slovo – an electricity pylon
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)

  
 


The myriad of faces in Slovo, a traditional healer and a struggling, but happy couple
 
The communities association with the Federation of The Urban Poor (FEDUP) and C.O.R.C was crucial in this process as they were instrumental in arranging and facilitating the research trips as well as bringing forward extremely helpful and willing community members.
 
Mapping Slovo through the community’s eyes
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
 
The Individual Proposals


From this process a larger urban framework was proposed that sought to link Slovo to the neighboring community of El Derado Park while developing Slovo from within and maintaining the existing sense of community that the township demonstrated to the students during the research phase. 
 
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)

From here the students were required to propose their own individual theoretical projects that they felt would aid in the development of Slovo Park.



The responses were dynamically varied in nature with some designing a processional route from the township to the adjacent cemetery, incorporating the myriad of African cultures and their relationship to death while others focused on development around housing with titles such as ‘Housing Clinics’ in an attempt to capture the humble manner in which the inhabitants throughout south Africa possess the power to build their own houses but require some assistance and knowledge sharing.

 
The Housing Clinic
 
The project was well received by the University and was presented to the Department of Human Settlements at their Indaba in September of 2010 as well as presented to the community themselves during their meeting with government on site.
 
Presenting to the community of Slovo

 

 
Garnering community feedback with an informal presentation to an informal audience
The Built Intervention
 
The university then offered the students the further opportunity to fund and construct a small portion of the proposed design and build it over an allocated period of 8 weeks.
 
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
 
As the designs proposed over the research period were far too large and costly to build in the 8 week period the student group decided that they would pool together the principles from each design and with the addition of a new student member, Van Wyk, would design a small intervention within the earlier proposed urban framework.
 
Planning the build with the local business forum
 
 
The site as we found it. Waiting to be unlocked
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
 
The resultant design was a proposed community center, which fitted into a civic space. This center and civic area would provide the people of Slovo Park a place for the community to meet and determine the future for itself. An existing dilapidated structure that housed the 1994 Election Station was chosen as the team felt that this was where the change began and should be respected so.

 

Proposed Slovo Hall – Community Meeting Center

 

Proposed Civic Center



The center was specifically designed with the larger future in mind and phased into 5 early construction phases and 5 later larger future development phases. 

Community poster to explain the process over the Build Weeks (3m Long)
Early construction phases allowed the functions of the future development phase to still operate on site without the actual infrastructure of the later development.
 
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
 
This scheme was presented to the community for input and design assistance at the future Slovo Hall.
 
First formal presentation to the community
 
 
Presenting the ideas to people of Slovo using models proved to be the most effective way of community
These were some of the steps taken in an attempt to construct an effective space and building in a very short period of time. The team’s motto became “Do the most, with the least”.

(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
 
The Construction Process
 
Building began in September and the support received from the community themselves and the local business was overwhelming with each day as varied as the next. Daily more people would join the workforce and get involved in some way.
 
Employing local help in measuring the site
The first site work informally done by help found on site
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
 
Clearing the site with more ‘help’
 
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
The core team getting the work ball rolling
 
Laying the foundation for the center
 
 
 
 
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
As the project gathered momentum the team began to see the relationships with these donators and consultants were going to be the lifeblood of future development in Slovo Park. 
 
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
 
Getting into the swing of work
 
Slowly the site started to take shape
 
 

 

 
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
 
 
 
 
The building team discussing how the future wall will look
 
 
 
Meals, donated by local business’s on site, became a key time to reflect and build bonds between the team
 
 
Flood damage slowed the progress at points
 
 
But behind each setback were some truly inspiring moments
 
 
 
 
(To be Published, Bennett, Casson, Fillipe, Van Wyk)
 
 
 
 
The ladies working on site working on the reeds added a rich dimension of song and colour to the long day    
 
 
 The reeds on site went from being a element of contention to a point pride assembled in some way by all members of the team
 
 
The paving arrived, late, but well received as it drew the elements of the center together
 
 
 

As the final touches began to be applied the energy on site was electrifying as the team neared their goal

Bachelor of Architecture (Honours)

The Slovo Park Project – The Story

The Slovo Park Project    The Slovo Park Project began as a small research project in the University of Pretoria’s Housing and Urban Environments module of the Architectural Honours Year.    It quickly gained momentum in its relation to the community it desire to understand the problems faced by South Africa’s Urban Poor. The process […]

AZA Master Class 2010 – The Other Master Classes

During the Master Class I was fortunate enough to participate in, several others were run. More information can be found at AZA 2010 – Master Classes Although I did not see all the final products, below are some of the works I managed to document. The quality of the shots isn’t great, but I hope […]

AZA Master Class 2010 – Convertible Cities

This year’s Architectural Student Congress was combined with the Architecture ZA (AZA 2010) and held in Newtown, Johannesburg. AZA 2010 hosted a Master Class session, which were attended by several prominent professionals and hosted at Arts on Main, just West of Johannesburg’s CBD. I was chosen amongst several other student submissions for an Autodesk Sponsored […]

The Slovo Park Project – The Beginning

Quarter 4 The final quarter at the University of Pretoria allows for the students to select one project undertaken in the year under: Housing and Urban Environments, Heritage & Cultural Landscapes and Environmental Potential. The intention is for the student to take the proposal further into a design detailed level of resolution. This project then […]

The Housing Clinic

The Housing Clinic From the standpoint that the issues around housing in South Africa are too complex and vast for anyone to easily get a grasp on the concept, the design seeks to give a tangible face to the solutions. The Approach The housing SA brand is meant to be the face for Housing South […]

Housing & Urban Environments (H-UE)

Quarter 3  The final project for our 3 quarter session was that of Urban and Urban Environments, we were given a choice of 2 sites and expected to undertake the necessary research to and try gain an understanding of the urban condition of the area. From this we were expected to derive a building  that […]

Heritage & Cultural Landscapes- Pretoria Art Museum

Quarter 1   My first project at the University of Pretoria was the adaptive re-use of the existing Pretoria Art Museum within the context of Arcadia Park. This was a particularly difficult project due to the unfathomably subjective possibilities of design approaches based on the notions of ‘Cultural Significance’. Anyone who has attempted a heritage […]

Environmental Potential: Final Submission

Quarter 2   The refined proposal attempts to streamline the previous ideas and explain how the intervention makes the Carlton Center and the surrounding complex more ecologically responsive.   *   Deep Ecology Working from the previous post’s critique; the design works around the idea of Deep Urban Ecology and how each building is simply […]

Environmental Potential: Part 2

Critique 2 After assessing the nature of JHB inner city more closely, a need for a stronger social approach became clear. The modified proposal approached the problem on a much more human scale. An Approach Although the buildings, the people, the flora and fauna all seem to occupy the same spaces and interact on a […]

Environmental Potential: Part 1

Critique 1   Our new assignment is a adaptive re-use of the Carlton Center in Johanessburg CBD. Initial My initial idea was to flood the entire basement section (as the BRT system would provide future transport for all visitors and workers to the complex)and by harvesting all the rain water in the area, purifying it […]

AZA Master Class 2010 – The Other Master Classes

During the Master Class I was fortunate enough to participate in, several others were run.
More information can be found at AZA 2010 – Master Classes
Although I did not see all the final products, below are some of the works I managed to document. The quality of the shots isn’t great, but I hope the ideas and the richness of the process can be seen.
I also included Hugh Fraser’s Digital Design Workshop, it was on display at the same venue and exhibited very interesting forms and textures.
*

RE-IMAGINING THE MINING BELT

Michael Sorkin, Duzan Doepel (presented by Autodesk), Lindsay Bremner and Hilton Judin 

Re-Imagining the Mining Belt will lay claim to the mining belt through opportunistic, experimental design thinking aimed at generating new urban relations, inventing new urban infrastructures, creating new urban publics and reasserting the mining belt into the urban imagination.


Once a churning metallurgical landscape, the mining land, with its headgear and golden dumps provided not only the city’s wealth, but also its iconic images. Johannesburg was synonymous with its mine dumps. Today this has changed. The dumps are disappearing. The mining belt is contested terrain. For some it is a toxic dump site; for others it is a source of new wealth through micro extraction and real estate development; some see it as disappearing urban heritage and for others, un-accommodated elsewhere in the urban system, it provides invisibility and cover.


The master class begins with the proposition that the mining belt is an environmental, economic and cultural resource for a more sustainable city. It asks architects to engage conceptually with this terrain vague, this unstable seam, this site where the city reveals itself, to imagine and represent its potential for future generations. It includes a site visit, the screening of a documentary, a workshop with stakeholders and the mapping of alternative scenarios. ‘


Architecture is involved in all kinds of systems, not just the use of materials and the consumption of energy. Architecture – simply put, a building – is always an interface between communication, social structures, economics and use.
 
– Duzan Doepel (presented by Autodesk) from his keynote address at AZA2010

* Excerpt taken from AZA Master Class Brief

Re- Imagining the Mining Belt – The Final Presentation
Concept Page – Igolide Elisha ( New Gold)
              
Soutfontein                                        Linear City                                               Historicity
  
   Detoxicity                                                       Urban Farm
Detoxicty
‘Through two days of intense walks throughout Joburg, participants may discover that no existing postcard of this city describes it either fully or partially. During the walks, they will each record, draw, photograph, print, write and capture the most unique, novel, everyday, inventive, imaginative and critical postcard of this city. “We will produce and present these postcards as the shortest story of this city: Johannesburg,” says Seraji.
 
The key to better architectural practice, believes Seraji, lies in unlocking one’s capacity for critical thinking. She proposes “a voyage through the most condensed periods of our practice of architecture in the past ten years – days of total disappointment, hours of extreme joy, and moments of radical thought: the life of an architect.”  ‘
 
Architects often forget that critical thinking depends on exposure, and that the simplest form of debate must start with a proposition. I believe that criticism is an essential interface that allows the architect to engage with the greater public. Somewhere in the 70s and 80s, architecture lost its conviction, its capacity for political activism, its power. It rose to stardom in the 90s; and when architects became as well known as pop singers, everyone started to desire architecture. Perhaps it is time to stop abusing the power of architecture and allow it to become once again a platform for critically, social awareness, and political engagement. We still believe in the power of architecture to make environments that allow us to enquire, measure, and determine our active position in society.
 
– Nasrine Seraji from her AZA2010 keynote address
* Excerpt taken from AZA Master Class Brief

 

Digital Design and Fabrication Workshop – 2010

The Slovo Park Project – The Beginning

Quarter 4

The final quarter at the University of Pretoria allows for the students to select one project undertaken in the year under: Housing and Urban Environments, Heritage & Cultural Landscapes and Environmental Potential.

The intention is for the student to take the proposal further into a design detailed level of resolution. This project then is detailed through to much more holistic architectural level. This quarter is also supplemented by an elective theory course in order to prepare the student for the Thesis Year ahead.

*

Elective
My choice was the Housing and Urban Environment  project, as I felt there was still much to do and learn in Slovo Park.
The initial research group remained the same with the inclusion of a new member who worked on a different site, but whose design was not site based.
 
The Plan
Our lecturer’s offered us that, due to the level of community interaction, we could build a part of our intervention. But we would have to fund, manage and build the design with the community over the next 6 weeks. This built product would then be assessed on site and would be our final mark.
Getting Started
The first task was to decide which project to go through with, as the other students in the class would take forward their individual designs done over 8 weeks in the previous semester, we as a group would take further a group design, as our individual proposed designs were much more ambitious than we could possibly build with little to no money and in the time frame we had.
Choosing a Site
After we presented our individual work to the community during one of their official meeting we understood that their was no formal meeting spaces and the informal spaces did not work very well.
We chose a site, identified in Urban Analysis framework, as a key point at which the development of Slovo would take place by creating a platform for people to meet and discuss the future of their community.
(Bennett, Casson, Makgabutlane, Fillipe , Hattingh ; 2010)
 
The Project In Brief…
After being contacted by the community of Slovo Park the University of Pretoria with the community have been researching and designing an upgrading and development plan for the settlement over the last few months.

The research team, made up of the community and the students, have identified a small portion of their proposed design in the form of a Community Center that will be built over the next six weeks.

The team has to arrange the funding, build the project and manage the entire process.

A comprehensive information pack is available on the Slovo Park Project Website

The Built Proposal
The design put together was infused with the principles learned during the individual proposals and seeks to provide the first step towards a much larger development.
This pilot intervention will lay the framework for the future development by uniting the community under a common goal and using that energy to project the project past our interaction with the community and make the design a true bottom up initiative.
Each built piece is intended to provide the necessary infrastructure for the community to use as its intended function now, without compromising its adaptability in future:

e.g.

The design of the paving with the intentional space for future columns to build the ‘future blue print’ for the community
or
the low seating walls for the mobile clinic waiting area will become the foundation walls for the proposed clinic in the future phase e.t.c

Built Phase & Future Phase.
The Built Phase will be the re-refurbishment of the existing community structure over the 6 weeks, this will set up the construction sequence for a much larger project development which we designed with the community.

The Future Phase is designed on a much larger scale and  requires more infrastructure and time than we have, but is outlined by the Built Phase
Each phase is incrementally designed so at each point the design can be critically reviewed by the community themselves to ascertain the most effective path towards the built product.’

Diagram of Building Phases – Presented to Community

Current State
The Slovo Park Project Team have begun site works, and are constantly seeking more funding and donations.
Below is the current program for the community building team.

The Slovo Park Project team has received overwhelming support from the community and is busy with site works at the moment, and moving swiftly along the scheduled program.

Maputo – Documenting the Baixa

Maputo – Documenting the Baixa
 
 
Down town Maputo, known as the Baixa, is the oldest part of this city in decay. Colonised by the Portuguese  in the early part of the 18th century, the city was at one stage planned to be the new capital of Portugal before the war of Independence.

This complex layering of history and site was the site of a University of Pretoria research study in July 2010.
The research project had 20 students from the University of Pretoria documenting the historical buildings of the Baixa area using a contemporary technique known as the ‘Quick Scan’. This method is a fast tracked survey technique to quickly assess the economical and historic nature of an area to communicate to governmental powers possible solutions to maintaining the historical fabric of heritage areas while planning an economical strategy around it.

The first few days were spent getting to know the area as tourists before the real mapping began.
 
 
 
The Market
 
The market was our first experience of the historical nature of Maputo being actively and sustainably used and made viable.
 
 
The Monument to the Great War, erected as a memorial to the Portuguese that died during World War I.
The Maputo Rail Station
 
The Netherlands Embassy

We were fortunate to get a chance to visit the Dutch Embassy during trip. Here we were joined by a wild haired passenger known as Antoni Faulkers.

 
  

 

 
 
 
Procurando Pancho…
 
No Architectural trip to Maputo would be complete without a good deal of Pancho Guedes visitiation.
Smiling Lion
 
 
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This entry serves more as a photo journal of the architectural elements of the trip, and is soon to be updated with the analytical findings from the group.