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.“
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.
In 2014, we (Eric Wright, Claudia Morgado & myself) as a team of architects, lectures and urban researchers assembled a collective architecture/urbanism/landscape laboratory which closely engages with complex urban conditions of South African. We termed this collective Aformal terrain (AT).
Our first experimentation with this collective was through a critical studio with the leadership of Denver, Informal Settlement in Johannesburg CBD through the studioATdenver. This project was established to take course over a period of 3-5 years and support s much larger development process that Denver is already a part of in regard to the Department of Human Settlement’s work in Gauteng and South Africa. In addition AT worked on a variety of projects in our defined research area:
Aformal Terrain is a collaborative research group based at the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture.
Aformal Terrain (AT) is a collaborative and collective architecture/urbanism/landscape group who closely engages with complex urban conditions.
AT focuses on integrating resources and skills towards promoting awareness and generating appropriate responses to the context of rapidly changing and often unstable contemporary urban phenomena.
This approach is underpinned by people-driven methodologies for engagement, research, design responses and planning strategies.
The use of the term ‘Aformal’ frames a critical investigation (immersion) into complex spatial, social, cultural, economic and physical urban scenarios as an ‘in-between’ condition, or terrain. This direction is rooted in working with, and, within urban informal settlements with a focus on incremental in-situ upgrading and organic urbangrowth – interrogating current polarised definitions of the ‘formal’ and ‘informal’, and the often confused interpretations between legality and illegality.
Each Studio (project, exhibition, publication etc) is aimed at identifying and interconnecting multiple role-players (actors).
This occurs through an immersive, collaborative and co-produced process of engagement, establishing a platform to enable trans-disciplinary exchange and capacitation, consequently activating public, private and community joint efforts.
AT directs this purpose to three areas of action:
Teaching & Learning
To generate an awareness of varying urban conditions at multiple scales ranging from regional, through neighbourhood, to specific people groups. This action relies on trans-disciplinary collaborative exchange with the aim of leading to well-informed and achievable plans that assist and support community-led development.
An embedded intention here is to further inform current professionals, settlement residents, local/city officials and current students (future professionals) about the nuances and complexities of participatory processes through immersive, real life projects (studios).
Awareness & Knowledge
Strongly tied to teaching-and-learning processes this action is underpinned by the co-production of knowledge and information through collective and mutual exchanges. This process identifies two main sources towards the production of relevant and useful knowledge:
Existing Data – sourcing, analyzing and sharing current data about the specific area of work/study. This includes; local upgrade plans (at city level), National upgrade plans (NUSP and the like), Global references and tools (investigating ‘Global South’ relationships and networks).
Local Knowledge – identifying collective community plans and objectives through discussions and exchange with local residents. This process aims to build on local knowledge with the aim of drawing connections between bottom-up and top-down processes.
AT intends to cultivate long-term sustainable relationships with the networks generated through the teaching-and-learning studios.
Real Projects refers to this intention – to identify potential roles for professionals and spatial practitioners through on-the-ground collaborative processes – assisting community action plans and governmental upgrade plans through providing relevant spatial and design services fitted to contexts of informal settlements.
AT Team: Eric Wright (BOOM Architects), Claudia Morgado (BOOM Architects), Jhono Bennett (1to1 – Agency of Engagement), Stephen Hoffe (Build A Future), Katrine Lategan (ARUP),
AT Collaborators: Tyler B Murphy (Sins of Style), Tuliza Sindi (BRN WSH), Jabu Makhubu (UJ Lecturer), Blanca Calvo (CORC), Motebang Matsela (CORC), Gloria Pavita (UJ Student), Taylor Holloway (1to1 – Agency of Engagement), Phil Astley (UCL)
South African Shack Dwellers Alliance: Sandra Van Rensburg, Rosy Mashimbye, Maureen Sikepo, Dumisani Mathebula
Local War Councillors: Clnr Neuren, Clnr Simelane
Critical Friends: Simon Sizwe Mason (City of Joburg – Management), Moabi Pekone (City of Joburg – Region F: Housing), Nicolette Pingo (Johannesburg Development Agency), Monty Narsoo (NUSP)
University of Johannesburg Students:  Ayanda Madi, Daniele Cronje, Jade Botes, Jamela Mkansi, Martin Jones, Mitchel Thirwell, Moeketsi Phori, Mulalo Mafela, Nathan Abrahams, Lucille Jacobs, Wandile Bongwa Mahlanga, Gareth How, Mohau Moidi, Brian Maila, Victor Martins, Ashish Nathoo, Alwyn-Jay Pretorius, Musa Mathe, Joana Ferro, Dewald le Roux, Crystal Francis, Melissa Brandt,Vikash Mithal, Tlali Nyareli, Sibusiso Lwandle, Pierre Perrault, Kerry Trebble, Isabella da Rocha, Megan Wilson, Wandile Mkhwanazi, Simone Pretorius, Siphosezwe Mahlangu, Thabang Semenya, Mohammed R Suliman, Travis Lee, Mfundo Magongo, Julian Almond, Aisha Balde, Rudelle Bezuidenhout, Kgaogelo Mashego, Karabelo Mlangeni, Binaica Morar, Kholokazi Ngoma, Ruben Smit, Jessica Rousseau, Kagiso Teke, Kyle Blake, Jaco Jonker, Maruscha Govenden, Palesa Khumalo, Ricardo De Sousa, Armand Barnard, Kagiso Bokaba, Nyasha Chirinda, Yusuf Dadabaay, Rosalie Ferreira, Lance Ho Hip, Tebogo Ntsoane, Thabo Ranaka, Mandy Shindler, Roland Britz, Llenette Jones, Lindani Langa, Tebogo Madito, Kashiya Mbinjama , Thabang Montle, Carol Phophi, Roberto Pinheiro, Leme Swanepoel, Nicholas Abrahams, Lerato Bothloko, Sanjay Jeevan, Tebogo Kgatla, Irena Konstantinova, Morena Mahlare, Tebogo Mokgwetsane, Njabulo Ndaba, Joshua Sampson, Reinhard Van Niekerk
 Allen N, Da Rocha I, Erasmus C, Gama J, Jamieson R, Kubayi T, Mabaso M, Makutu N, Mamba S, Mantle W, Mokgwetsane T, Molekoa K, Mothoagae O, Msiska A, Musehane K, Naicker S, Ncube T, Ramos D, Samsodien C, Thirlwell M, Trebble K, Tshivhase M, Vasconcelos T, Nkoana M, Moutloatse L, Adu Agyei D, Behane M, Botlhoko L, Carstens G, Chokoe M, Dekker A, Di bon J, Fourie B, George R, Hollis K, Jama A, Madi A, Makofane T, Malanda J, Mashinini N, Mayes J, Mlambo S, Mlangeni K, Paiva E, Perrault P, Phaladi K, Russwurm J, Saloojee Y, Suliman M, Wilmans M, Tsheoga M, Gono T, Carvalho M, Dart T, Ebrahim F, Greeff M, Isia F, Knobloch A, Makhubele N, Masango B, Mazwi N, Mntambo W, Moore S, Murakata P, Mvakade Z, Ngobeni V, Sikepe M, Sithole S, Tatham P, Thomas N, Van Rooyen R, Zwane J, Machaka M, Mahlangu R
The core underpinnings, purpose and relevance of AT stems from and builds on the development of,and involvement in,these preceding studios
[i]informalStudio: Ruimsig (http://2610south.co.za/gallery24.php) Teaching staff: Thorsten Deckler (principal at 26’10 south Architects), Alexander Opper (director of architecture master’s programme, UJ), Lone Poulsen (architect and urban planner at ACG Architects), Melinda Silverman (urban design theory, UJ). \Ruimsig Community: The community of the Ruimsig informal settlement, including Dan Moletsane, Dingaan Matia, the community leadership and the eight ‘community architects’: Irene Mohale, Rosalina Mphuti, Julia Mashaba, Mildred Thapeni, Albert Masibigiri, Jemina Mokoena, Watson Sibara, and Alfred Mthunzi.UJ Students: Dewald Badenhorst, Dean Boniface, Dirk Coetser, Dana Gordon, Zakeeya Kalla, Daniel Lyonga, Julian Manshon, Matthew Millar, Karabo Mokaba, Jarryd Murray, Trisha Parbhoo, Sean Pillan, Taswald Pillay, Miguel Pinto, John Saaiman, Salome Snyman.Support: Goethe-Institut South Africa has financially and logistically supported the project from its inception; Steve Topham (NUSP); Andy Bolnick (Ikhayalami); Connie Molefe (of the Roodepoort Athletics Stadium management); Max Rambau & André Mengi (CORC); Tolo Phule and Lungelo Mntambo (Delite Visual Archives Studios); Pheagane “Jakes” Maponya, Pumla Bafo & Thabo Molaba (City of Johannesburg); Lisa Ngagledla, Nomahlubi Ncoyini & Pricilla Mario (for sharing the expertise of the Sheffield Road community in Cape Town); Mzwanele Zulu (ISN, Cape Town); Thembile Majoe, Sihle Mbatha, Phiwe Makubu, Mfundisi Masithe (ISN, Gauteng); & Andisa Bidla (CoJ Informal Settlement Formalisation & Regularisation).
[ii]informalStudio: Marlboro South (http://www.informalstudio.co.za/) Teaching staff: Thorsten Deckler (principal at 26’10 south Architects),Anne Graupner (principal at 26’10 south Architects), Alexander Opper (director of architecture master’s programme, UJ), Eric Wright (3rd year lecturer, UJ), Suzette Grace (3rd year lecturer, UJ), Claudia Morgado (3rd year lecturer, UJ). Support staff (UJ): Melinda Silverman, Suzette Grace, Leon Krige, Amira Osman, Annemarie Wagener, Absalom Makhubu, Dr.Finzi SaidiMarlboro South Community: The community of the Marlboro South informal settlement, including the Marlboro Warehouse Crisis Committee (MWCC): Charles Gininda, Thapelo Mogane, August Tswai, Maluleke David, Loveson Motlapa, and the community architects: Winnie Ngubane, Queenie Nkosi, Happiness Nkosi, Khanyisile Soncgca, Fezeke, Baliswa Mahono, Khanyi Ncube, Nonthando Madondo, Thabo Masenyetse, Phili Thafeni, Karabo Mokaba, Promise Nxumalo, Agnes Lekgotla, Mapule Lekgotla, Anna Mathibedi, Melissa, Jabulani Dwiazawa,Thulie Shabalala, Wonderboy Butheklezi, Andries Tzumbezo, Asanda Magqabi, Ayanda Libala,UJ Students: Francois Mercer, Elaine Engelbrecht, Francisco Hamilton Alves, David Cloete, Rick van Heerden, Shani Fakir, Nakedi Nkoana, Lance HO Hip, Brent Proudfoot, Renee van Rooyen, Dylan Watkins with Steffen Fischer, Jolien Dreyer, Eugene Ncube, Naeem Kooreyshi, Katrin Tenim, Martin Bam, Philip van As, Debbie Pienaar ,Laura Strydom, Katty Harris, Dewald Coetzer, Jurgen Rubirske, Lemohang Sekhoto, Shyam Patel, Joseph Matebane, Ashlea Weaver, Calvin Copeling, Basil Moutsatsos, Nhlamulo Ngobeni, Samantha Trask, Jaco Jonker, Lungelo Zulu, Alex Verissmo, Grant Woodward, Jaques Wienekus, Motebang Matselela, Sachin Mistry, Caitlin Bell, Robin Theobald, Keron Muller, Michelle Jordaan, Thabiso Siwana, Gareth Jones, Marc Sherrat, Glen Jordan, Lucille Jacobs, Tlale Masiu, Hanle van HuyssteenSupport: Goethe Institut South Africa has financially and logistically supported the project from its inception; Steve Topham (NUSP); Andy Bolnick & Ryan Bosworth (iKhayalami); Sandra Van Rensburg, Andre Mengi, Jhono Bennett & Jacqueline Cuyler (CORC); Tolo Phule and Lungelo Mntambo (Delite Visual Archives Studios); South African Shack Dwellers International Alliance (SDI): Rose Molokoane (FEDUP), Patrick Magebhula (ISN)
“Focusing on new and emerging public spaces PublicActs/Johannesburg aims to investigate and showcase its many different manifestations and potentials.
Producing a catalogue of urban public conditions based on criteria that respond to the contemporary reality of our city and represent its diverse geographies, six sites are identified for their critical value. These meander between the New Imaginaries, the Everyday, the Grand and Spectacular, the Ephemeral and Politics, Power and Protest.
Acknowledging different interpretations of publicness, six creative collaborators alongside local actors are invited to produce a series of actions, site-specific interactions or performances in defined sites, to provoke discussion and the imagination around future public spaces in Johannesburg.
The project culminates into 24hour choreographed Public Acts which invites spectators to playfully engage and interact with the creative interpretations on site. Additionally to the artistic outputs, the festival program will engage local stakeholders and a greater public to critically reflect and comment on the projects findings, speculations and provocations. This will allow for thought about the conditions and production of public space in Johannesburg
With the research and experiences generated we aim to challenge urban actors and decision-makers to engage and construct public spaces in Johannesburg in innovative and democratic ways. Our findings and creative outputs shall function as a guide on how to approach, use, misuse, appropriate and imagine public space in African cities”. (text taken from www.publicacts.org)
The Kwa-Mai Mai socio-spatial action research intervention was the 6 week culmination of a critical process of engagement with the Kwa-Mai Mai Committee and the Mai Mai users. This article explains the process undertaken by those involved and summarises the experience highlighting the key findings and discoveries along the way.
Through a series of discussions, informal workshops and mapping exercises fellow PublicActs provacateurs, Liliania Transplantor and WayWord Sun of AMBush Gardening Collective and myself began investigating the complex and layered qualities of the socio-spatial dynamic of the Kwa-Mai Mai Bazaar (referred to locally as the Mai Mai Market and the entire area as Mai Mai) in Johannesburg’s Central Business District.
What was amazing was not in the fact that they were taken, but that as the day progressed the chairs were slowly returned to the site as the extended leadership from within the Mai Mai Market exercised its control over the entire Mai Mai site, and through co-ordinated movements all chairs were returned back to their original placement.
Mai Mai Food Court before the Act began – with chairs re-appropriated (Image: Jhono Bennett)
Mai Mai Food Court before the Act began – as the chairs began returning (Image: Jhono Bennett)
Mai Mai Food Court before the Act began – as the chairs began returning (Image: Jhono Bennett)
Mai Mai Food Court before the Act began – all chairs returned (Image: Jhono Bennett)
This finding eluded to a much more complex and organised form of leadership and governance that exists in Mai Mai. Simultaneously, more intricate territories amongst the food court users were revealed as the chairs became a symbol of territorial control as users claimed ownership over various arrangements.
While the experiment did not meet the original aim of constructively provoking forms of seating and gathering it revealed many of the intangible connections and controls that allow the Mai Mai Food Court to work as a highly successful and productive democratic public space in appearance, but a deeply territorialised and governed space in the public realm.
This initial engagement was the first step in a much longer envisioned engagement from both 1to1 – Agency of Engagement and AMbush Gardening Collective with the Kwa-Mai Mai Committee and its users in their own goals of developing Mai Mai into their collective vision.
What the process revealed to us, and our project partners, was how crucial the delicate and negotiated process of trust building that is required through critical engagement to even begin to uncover important social and spatial relationships areas such as the Mai Mai Market.
More so, how important it is for city planners and spatial practitioners to understand that not all systems reveal themselves at face value and often in such complex and rich public spaces, one needs to more engaged and critical when interrogating public space towards an understanding or an intervention.