Master Dissertation – Milestone 8

Milestone 8 – Final Presentation
                                                                        Jhono:          My project is about my pole.
                                                                        Lecturer:     Is that all ?
                                                                        Jhono:          And, how it grows through engagement… 
                                                                        Lecturer:     I see…
(Final Crit [In my mind];2011)
Presentation day finally caught up with the Studio, ready or not, we were flung into a 3 day fury of pinning up, down and away.
My work took up the entire venue, and included a PowerPoint portion, a small audio visual table with the film work and the Slovo Park book. I had to plan my position for each part of my speech, how I would explain taking care not to turn my back to the panel at any time, as well arrange seating, lighting e.t.c.
My external for design was Hugh Fraser, and for technical I was assigned Dieter Brandt.
Left Wall


Room 3-15 – Boukunde – Presentation Venue
Audio Visual Display + Books
Front Wall
PowerPoint displaying Growth Video
Right Wall
1:500 Model and 1:100 Lazer cut process models

1:500 Site Model
The Crit
The presentation began at 5:10 pm, where Jankel Niewoudt (who was also working in Mamelodi) and I presented our frameworks and research at another venue, we each had 6.5 minutes to do so. From here the panels then split, Jankel presented to the technical first, and I the design.
The panel then took 5 minutes to look over the work and asked me a few quick questions between.
Pre Crit Tension
I was then introduced by our head of school, Karel Bakker, and opened with my problem statement taking the panel through my process, my findings and the subsequent result of the non-building, but the Infra-Tectural approach I had arrived at.
My design external, Hugh Fraser, then asked me several questions about the use of metal walling system in a cement building, the process I took and role of cement in developing areas. I received a fairly difficult question from the head, Karel Bakker, with the rest of the crit from Alta Steenkamp, the head of University of Cape Town’s masters, and a handful of positive comments from Rodney Harber and Professor Raman from the Cape Town University of Technology.
The technical presentation went much the same, but produced an interesting discussion around the role of architecture in developing areas and how designers should engage. The highlight of the crit was Dieter Brandt’s suggestion that I take this further into a ‘Built Doctorate’ and that the work I was doing should be taken further in the school as teaching topic. In all both very positive crits.
We received our provisional marks at the final exhibition evening the following day; where I was awarded a distinction for design, but not reaching the coveted Cum Laude by missing my technical distinction by 4%.
Although very self satisfied with my distinction, I couldn’t help but feel that I could have taken the Cum Laude. In retrospect, I realise now that my project was not about a building in its form and aesthetic, but about the need for alternative architectural approaches and intervention in South Africa’s fastest growing and most dynamic areas – the peri-urban context – making it fairly difficult to award a mark for such an intangible product, a result I feel rings true to the nature of the year and my project.
Perhaps if I had foreshortened my process and spent more time on resolving a building by traditional definitions then I would not have had the fulfilling and ultimately rewarding design, theoretical and academic process that was my dissertation year.
In all, I feel I have learnt more this last year than any other academic year and am looking forward to a break from academia in the working world.
The Work on the Wall
Problem Statement:
I explained that based on the Slovo Park Project undertaken in my honours, a four month participative research, design and build project in Soweto where we constructed with the residents of Slovo an intervention based on a critical research process, we the students began to re-examine our roles as designers and facilitators of development during this process of total immersion developing context. (Page1)
(Page 1)
In order to gain a further understanding of role of architecture in developing areas I undertook a country wide Research Trip aiming to look into what was being built in developing areas and how these buildings worked in context (Page 1)
I did not find the answers I was looking for, but rather several questions. Primarily:
How can Architecture actively engage with 
its immediate, developing pre-urban context?

(Page 2)
I began my research process by examining the intended users of these ‘community’ centers
And what defines this term ‘community’. I looked at the different tangible and intangible factors of connection between people and their immediate and extended environments – what exactly connects them? (Page2) 
This led to an understanding of these users more under the concept of:
A complex network of people connected together in a layered organic system
The hypothesis being that in order to begin to understand the complexity of the network and determine an appropriate architectural intervention through engagement and contextual analysis – qualitative data can be procured – allowing the complexity of the network to be interpreted through a lens of participation.
Its needs and requirements can then be identified to determine a sustainable intervention that cultivates true ownership at its core.
 (Page3)                                                                                       (Page4)
To gain critical distance from Slovo, I chose the Mamelodi, Gauteng – specifically Mamelodi East, Ext 12 –  as the laboratory for the dissertation and began lengthy on site research, focusing on the cement brick makers discovered during site investigations. (Page 3&4&5)
 (Page 5)
 (Page 6)
Several interviews were held and the brick maker’s network analyzed through participative interview, observation and mapping exercises. (Page6)
This data was then graphically illustrated and analyzed in order to express and interpret the nature of the network and the process of production and distribution (Page6)
(Page 7)                                                                                                (Page 8)
Key findings include:
  • The manner in which temporary brick elements created space and advertising in the cement yards
  • How brickyards came about and the temporary nature of the space they occupied
  • How people bought bricks incrementally and not in bulk as expected
(Page 8)

A niche programmatic opportunity presented itself not in the making of bricks, but in the supply and distribution of bricks, materials and other building goods, mainly in cement and the social role it played in the Mamelodi context (Page 9)
 (Page 9)
Key Findings
During this –process connections between the temporary brick makers and the permanent elements such as housing were observed (Page 9)
This same sort of link was observed between temporary elements in housing and the permanent,
There existed a dialogue that allowed growth through varying states of temporarily and permanence enhanced by the mobility of housing observed on site.(Page 7)
There existed a relationship between these factors of temporarily and permanence, and through various states of emergence these factors manifested in the context.(Page 9)
Extract taken from dissertation book to explain niche programme (Page 10)
Chosen Site
In order to respond architecturally I chose a site within the developing Mamelodi East at the Pienaarspoort station, due to its permanence within temporarily and GAPP’s precinct development.  (Page 11)
After more on site interviews and visits I analyzed the areas in terms of permanence and temporality along the mobility routes, through this I determined the nature of intervention that would exist between the tangible and intangible networks of transport and the brick makers supply and distribution networks focusing on the role of cement. (Page 10)
 (Page 11)
Mamelodi East
Mamelodi east is the newer of the six precinct gap proposes and I made up of more than 70 percent temporary houses or shacks, the  land uses were analyside put together a set of scenarios for development of the Pienaarspoort precinct, based on the lessons found on site and influenced by Gap’s proposals.(Page 11)
The proposal calls for an incrementally phased development that uses mobility routes to develop economic nodes, using temporary housing to pioneer areas and through a series of negotiated responses grow a development from within. (Page 11)
Using cement as a determining factor of time, while the intervention IN RED is expected to adapt and display the flexibility based on the values of the site described earlier on.
 (Page 12)
These themes of flexibility, mobility were then explored in a short film submitted to the CnCI Film Competition. Here a character that finds himself in foreign context and seeks connection to grow and develop. This story explored the nature of flexibility and adapted into a storyboard.
From the film exploration, and architectural concept was developed:
  • A intervention that arrives on site,
  • Then seek to connect with its context to grow and develop,
  • Then begins to grow from this connection
  • Reaching a point of equilibrium, its usethen  diminishes
  • Begins to decay
  • Leaving behind a residue of necessity to inhabited by future users
(Page 12)
This is key to create a sustainable intervention that will cultivate ownership and actively engage with it developing context
The Process
(Page 13)
To design such an intervention, I began exploring the spatial and structural element in context
Looking at the elments such as the containers, zozos, RDP self-built houses and other temporary structures. Through this exercise a ‘portal form’ emerged as a basic spatial element of growth in the context.(Page 13)
I then looked at how these elements could be used to ‘grow’ a building using  Stewart brand’s definition of structural elements to guide my process.(Page 13)
(Page 14)
Looking into architectural theory behind flexible, and adaptable buildings I took Cedric price’s fun palace as precedent focus point, and examined international precedents from Roman times through Modernism into current theories around Nabeel Hamdi, Christopher Alexander, John Habraken and Teddy Cruz.(Page 14)
I identified the the Support and Infill elements from each example, doing the same with local examples and again with contextual elements on site. Through an iterative process of exploring how these analyzed elements could be used as different support and infill roles could be used to grow a building.(Page 14)
It became an exploration of how to allow for the most basic forms for appropriation. I began looking at point, line, plane and volumetric spaces and arrived at the most basic form giving space – the corner.(Page 14)
I took this and explored more design options summarized here and in my book, arriving a multiplanar, multidirectional unit of growth.(Page 14)
(Page 15)
This unit was inspired by the pre-cast concrete lamp posts in Slovo Park, and how they:
  • Ordered space,
  • Created landmarks
  • Provided intangible volumes of appropriation
(Page 15)
(Page 16)
And how if the simple lamp post was carefully adapted and used in its own system of support and infill, it could be used as an agent of growth in a developing context. (Page 16)
(Page 17)
Unit of Growth 
The unit itself is an adapted pre-cast concrete lamp post with specially designed secondary connections allowing for structural and spatial appropriation. These units would work in same way as exiting lamp posts, but through careful design aid social programmes as we all infrastructuctural. (Page 17)
 (Page 18)                                                                                                  (Page 19)
By providing lifting support,being powered autonomously and responding to edge conditions the units give the basic structural and service support need by vulnerable retail networks to develop and grow. (Page 18)   
These lamp posts aim to deal with the street edge condition in developing areas by provides own able public infrastructure in the true retail area – the street edge. (Page 19 & 20)   
    (Page 20)                                                                           
By a system of ownership and control, the less vulnerable network agent would rent out the spaces in-between the units to more vulnerable agents thus becoming agent of control themselves.(Page 21 & 22)
(Page 22)                                                                                (Page 21)


The unit is expected to be used in addition to exisitng infrastructural elements in developing areas to enhance not only the tangible context, but facilitate the growth of intangible networks without destroying the strength gathered in the development process.  (Page 23)

     (Page 23)
  (Page 24)
The unit is adapted from the typical pre-cast lampost, and designed to allow for secondary connections, provide lifting support for owners and provide autonomous services to users and sub users. For the dissertation I worked closely with engineers from Infraset and developed an octagonal profiled unit I called the JB-Spinnekop.12Kn. (Page 24)
 (Page 25)

The unit is illustrated here depicting its proposed growth in context, how it orders space with out controlling it. (Page 25)

 (Page 26)
As explained earlier the units themselves would work in a support and infill strategy based elemental’s Chilean project. (Page 26) In order to explore the Architectural possibiliites of the unit the unit is hypothetically placed on site, in Mamelodi East, Ext 12. (Page 3) Cement is used as the factor of time and the on site-analysis as guidelines for development the project is broken into 11 hypothetical phases. (Page 21 & 27)    
 (Page 27)
 (Page 28)
The idea here is by using key public infrastructure members in system of control and ownership that guide development in a developing area, such as Pienaarspoort.  (Page 28)
 (Page 29)
Here a hypothetical set of scenarios based on the research is outlined following the movements of Cement retailer network as the main character in the narrative:
EARLY PHASES – these phases reveal the intimate steps in the growth, and depict the flexibility of the unit in the process of support and infill of its placement.
PHASE 1 – Independent cement retailers mixed with other retail forms use the structures.
PHASE 2 – Cement retailers form a consortium and get assistance from Afrisam.
PHASE 3 – Fueled by the cement distribution and collection, the site has become a larger retail depot for any consumable goods required in the area.
PHASE 4 – Cement trade has died down, but the precinct has grown into an important retail and transport hub.
PHASE 5 – The precinct has becomes the major transport station for the east linking to the transport interchange planned by the City of Tshwane and GAPP.

(Page 29)

This can be seen in the video below.


PowePoint video shown to depict growth

 (Page 30)
 (Page 31)
(Page 32)
The Cement Depot
For the purposes of the dissertation, a phase was chosen to explore the architectural possibilities of an agent of control being required at a later stage. Phase 3 at the zenith of growth is used, and the through the narrative the Cement Depot along with the cement retailer network was selected based on the research. (Page 32)
(Page 33)
Explained earlier, the idea of a de-centralised factory typology was explored as the expected result of growth, the concept being that the production, retail and other programmes are already being fullfilled in the context and the intervention needs only respond to the distrbituion and storage of goods in the organic factory model.(Page 33)
(Page 34)
(Page 34)
The facility itself is designed to using the principles explored through out the process, using containers as structrual and space forming pieces, the unit as growth medium and the various other temporary and permanent elements in between as infill.(Page 34)
(Page 35)
The depot works within the same principles as the precicnt, in that it operates from a centralised service node, while allowing for levels of control within the administritive and retail programmes – renting spaces in between to sub retailers to allow for a symbiotic relationship between different forms of retail, adming and industrial programmes.(Page 35)
(Page 36)
The building elements are intended to be pre-cast concrete infrastructural pieces such as culvets, culvert bases and road kerbs as support pieces while allowing for infill from the context. These form the loading platform from which the facility is run.
(Page 37)
(Page 38)
(Page 39)

The facility itself is designed with a building system that has been used in the context of  Mamelodi. This metal insultaed cladding system is employed to work as temporary form within the developing area and provide ane xample of alternative cladding systems.(Page 39)
(Page 40)                                                                                                           (Page 41)

The primary proggrammatic function of the facility is storage and distribution. This is broken into long, medium, and short term storage. Long term storage being on the upper levels and facilitated by a jib arm attached to the unit. (Page 40 & 41) 

(Page 42) 
(Page 43) 
The facility is designed to work under the guiding principles determined through the process, allowing for levels of control and ownership within the Infra-tectural units. This is achived through an ordering of support and infill not only in the structure provided, but also in the social heriachies of the proggrammes. (Page 42 & 43) 
(Page 44) 
The only traditional Architectural element in the scheme became the roof. The roof became the symbol of the cement retail network, designed from the portal form and made up of an assembladge of optimized trusses that would be assembled on site and be able to be assembled by teams of non-mechanised builders. (Page 44) 

(Page 45)                                                                                    (Page 46) 
The roof also acts not only as the symbol of the network and basic form of shelter, but an active resource collection element in water, sun and other energy devices. This makes cement depot the strongest agent of control within the narrative of the Pienaarspoort Precinct.  (Page 45 & 46)
Infrastructure as architecture – Infra-Tecture
The dissertation revealed a key question in regard to Architecture of developing areas:
What is the role of Architecture in facilitating development?
The initial premise of the dissertation was to re-interpret the type of Architectural intervention that would facilitate growth in a developing context, in this case Pienaarspoort, Extension 12.
The issue with proposing an Architectural intervention in a developing context is that in order to truly facilitate development bulk infrastructure is needed in the form of roads, services e.t.c. Without these elements it is very difficult to meet the needs of any users in this context.
The dissertation process led to a hybrid of infrastructure and Architectural possibility, not a traditional building as such, but rather a building system. This is only problematic in that a resolved and detailed Architectural product is required to complete the MArch Prof. degree.
I aimed  to resolve this by then exploring the Infra-tecture piece Architecturally in context. But, due to time constraints the author feels that the Architectural product did not reflect the year’s process, as well as drawing attention away from the true product of the engagement process – the Infra-tecture Unit.
The Infra-tecture Unit could have been explored in more depth, but now has the opportunity to be taken further in practice and explored outside of academic constraints and discipline specific outcomes.
Research vs. product
Although the process of engagement and subsequent research was crucial in order to determine an appropriate design solution, it took up more than half of the allocated time for the dissertation year. The time spent on research left minimal time for product resolution.
This could have been resolved by a more clear identification of what exactly was expected from the research rather than an open ended question of engagement.
Although the dissertation process began as an investigation into the social role of buildings in developing contexts and their roles within, it ended quite solidly with a spatial and structural problem.

The problem lay in what does one provide as support, what as infill and who controls what at which times.

A project of this nature that does not clearly address or identify this issue will surely fail as this social programming of space through architectural techniques is essentially the core of what South African spatial professionals need to address in today’s developmental climate.

The dissertation process revealed an undercurrent of uncertainty in this specific field of architectural intervention. Feedback from professionals who were involved in the process could not comment on the nature of the dissertation design in architectural terms.

The actual architecture was more of a service engineering with social aspects than the spatial and structural programming of traditional architectural projects.

Nonetheless, what emerged in the end was an understanding of what questions architects need to be asking  in these types of contexts.


Masters Dissertation – Milestone 7

Milestone 7
Die bangste bobbejaan spring die verste…
(Studio Fairy,2011)

The end draws near… With only a few weeks left to go we have handed in our documents, as they are, to our external examiners and are all now in damage control mode; fixing everything we can as much as we can with the time we have left. The term ‘Architectural Triage’ comes to mind as the best way to describe how the work ethic is currently being done.
The Final Crit
How are final presentation works is as follows, our final marks are broken into two subjects:
DIT – Technical Design and  DPD – Design (Theory, Process, Concept e.t.c )
The marks are awarded by a panel made up of 12 or so internal and external jury members chosen by the school. Each mark is made up of 25% from your study leader, 25% from your individual external, 25% from the external panel and 25% from your internal panel as whole. Our actual document, which occupies 50% of your year time, actually counts for nothing, but is used by your study leader and external examiner to understand your project.
The judging takes place over 3 days in Boukunde, and each person is given a 10 minute shared slot to present their framework with their group, a 30 minute slots to present DPD (Design) and a 30 minute slot to present DIT (Technical): 5-8 minutes to explain your project, 10 minutes to answer questions from your external, and the rest of the time to answer questions from the panel.
The entire panel receives a small booklet made of single pages such as the one below:
This is an extremely stressful time of the year, as times slots are tightly followed and the entire building, specifically the masters studio, is a fury of nerves and stress induced energy – waiting to snap.
My Half of the studio – my desk by the window
We had two stress related incidents this year, one heart attack mimicking panic attack and another a bit more serious, both taking place in the studio. Its quite an amazingly powerful how the mixture of sleepless nights, unhealthy mental and physical living conditions and one all consuming in one small environment can manifest.
Our symbol of the Studio Stress, those involved will understand
Friends will be at each other throats over music volume issues, laughter that once were not even registered will tear at your mind like nails on chalkboard, self preservation takes hold as you find yourself holding back, out of fear, information or resources that you know would benefit others, but you might need at some stage – people’s personalities will reveal their true form.
Conversely stress will also reveal the weirder side to the studio as we experienced:
Our conversion into animalism…
Our lack of clothing boundaries…
The source of my wisdomous quotes
Self explanatory
Read closely…
No explanation required

The Great Koffee Off; it may sound lame – ok it is – but we kept track of how much coffee we drank and made bets as to how much could drink in the year, it got a bit excessive…

The pièce de résistance, our own Darth Laubscher
My Work Space
If anyone has been wondering what the conditions in a masters studio are like, below is the spatial atmosphere that has enveloped me all year.
Please note: the couch/bed, touch of greeness in the dying Ficus, Shim standing watch, the supply of foods and other basic living resources by the kettle, the only view of the real world – a small window that nearly caused me hypothermia in winter.

Standard issue studio supplies: energy medicine, coffee, sugar, kettle, fridge stacked with unmentionables, emergency escape room signified by dinosaur emblem. The usual.

Its almost sad to leave this mess of a space, but it must be handed over to the next generation of near suicidal, ego-maniacal, sadistic students we have so wonderfully become.

Masters Dissertation – Milestone J.1 (Draft 1 Submission of Chapters)

Milestone J.1 (Draft 1 Submission of Chapters) 
                                                            Masters student 1: How’d the presentation go?
                                                            Masters student 2: The only way to describe that, was as a g**g r**e of a crit.
                                                            Masters student 1: I see…
(Studio moment, 2011) 

Final Chapters 
The year’s marks are decidedin your final presentation, You are assigned two external who reads your book before and are present at your final presentation.
Although the book counts for less than the final presentation, it has been an exremely useful tool in organising and explaining the process and my thoughts to myself and my study leaders.
My first complete draft for my dissertation submission. Still havn’t finished chapter 8 or fully rendered the design drawings in chapter 7, but here it is in flash format (give it a few mins if it doesn’t show straight away):
Less than 40 days until the final presentation.

SWFObject 2 dynamic publishing example page http://scripts/swfobject.jsvar flashvars = {};”Dr.Solve” var params = {}; params.quality = “high”; = “false”; params.scale = “noscale”; params.wmode = “transparent”; var expressInstallSwfurl=”flash/expressInstall.swf”; var attributes = {}; swfobject.embedSWF(“flash/testFlash.swf”, “testFlash”, “250”, “300”, “9.0.0”,expressInstallSwfurl, flashvars, params, attributes);

Masters Dissertation – Milestone 6

Masters Dissertation – Milestone 6 
All Architecture projects in existence are made up of green urban networks of community based structurally adaptive reuse – with a planted roof.
(Studio Banter, 2011)

Re Rationalisation

The focus of this milestone was the finalised technical resolution of the design. After, the dismal success of the previous technical crit, a re-evaluation of my concept was required.

The first step was to rationalise the lifting mechanism, and why and how a building should grow.

I looked at the crane, and compared old systems of lifting vs new. Notably, the Shadoof, the Pentapastos and the Capstan stood out as the best systems for non mechanical lifting while the climbing truss used in stage productions.

The next diagram was an exploration of an industrial building vs an organic built warehouse using the Stewart Brand’s breakdown of building to re-order typical industry components.

I went back into my research, and looked further into the Slovo Park Project. What came out strongest was the relationship of urban infrastructure in the developing context of townships. Most importantly lamp posts, and the allocation of light for security.
New Scheme
The re-vised premise, seeks to re-interpret the role of the vertical infrastructural member, i.e the lamp post, into a piece of shared urban infrastructure that foster the development of street retail in developing areas.
Using pre-cast lamp post design, that inherently responds to edge condition, a multi structural/service lamp post member is introduced and used to ‘grow’ a development.
The process of growth is planned to take place around the lamp post, by placing two major service piece and filling in them in with smaller units to facilitate growth.

Lamp posts were the more appropriate choice as they inherently respond to edge.

While exploring an appropriate spatial appropriation scheme, I looked back into the history of space, through line, volume and plane. Comparing international examples with local.

Applying those principles to Mamelodi, I illustrated the process of arriving at the form for the unit of growth.

Structurally the form needed changes, and after a discussion with various engineers, I arrived at the form. The idea, being that a typical pre-cast concrete lamp post could be slightly modified to become a structural member by providing lifting opportunity with an additional member.

The typical pattern of growth, allowing for incremental and appropriate growth.

The Technical Resolution

The final presentation did not go as well as planned, firstly the roof (the only typical architectural element in the project) was not completed in time, and a simple structure was used in the time left.

But the external panel said that the building system was successfully designed, but they couldn’t see what was designed and which was allowed for.

Again, I received another question mark for work, not to worried, its now just a task of finishing up in time for the final presentation.

November 8, here we come.

Masters Dissertation – Milestone 5

 Masters Dissertation – Milestone 5
Architectural Emesis 
(Archi Vomiting)

The act of expelling a conceptual idea from the bowels of ones’ mind through the gullet of design 
by the projectile expression of pen to paper. 

Generally occurs prior to major hand ins and other times of design stress.
Much like any unpleasant bodily function, the process is not comfortable while happening, but necessary, 
as the contents of one’s mind bowels at times requires outer body inspection in order to achieve conceptual relief.
Pre – Technical Crit
This milestone was shortly placed after Milestone 4 to kick the class into technical gear, the requirements were to begin expressing the design’s technical aspects through a 1:20 section, a 1:100 plan and any accompanying technical diagrams.

My ‘Technical’ Section

I have realised that my design hinges around the Unit of Growth, and how that needs to express the poetry of a Mamelodi Techtonic working with a larger more structural techntonic in order to grow beyond its current limitations.

The roof element is intended to move up, holding the services, while the columns (the containers) support it through its growth.

I was hoping to express the duality of the street edge versus the rail edge, and how this techtonic allows for a dual expression of either.
Ultimately I failed this crit, due to unresolved nature of my detailing. My first fail this year, but warranted as I still have a lot of work ahead of me…

Masters Dissertation – Milestone 4

Milestone 4

Student:      The idea of the dissertation is to explore the concept of – 
Lecturer:    – FALCON PUNCH!!!

Student:      …mild post punch groan….

(Die Grobbels, 2011)


July offered the brief reprieve of a 2 week break from the Masters Year. I spent the holiday in the Cape, attending the national arts festival and getting some down time with the family in Cape Town.
The break was absolute necessity. After 20 weeks of constant dissertation thought and talks, some ‘human’ time is required.

The first day back we hit the ground running, as Milestone 4 loomed ominously overhead.

This was the last pure design milestone, and was labelled as the decider: if we did not have enough work to the lecture re’s satisfaction, then we would be told to extend to the following year.

No pressure…

The Submission

I kept the presentation the same for the analysis work, and spent my time resolving the design. Pages and pages of sketch plans, sections and details later I quickly through together a presentation.

The program is now a distribution depot for cement, and later other goods, made up of support infrastructure that provides the necessary elements to allow for a growth of appropriation.

Integral to the organic growth is the identification of agents of Ownership (Users) and Agents of Control (Client). In this case the container retail agents existing in Mamelodi have been chosen based on the previous research.

The methods of structural and spatial appropriation have been documented here as design generators.

The module for growth is the container, the idea that the container is a temporary element of growth (a form work) that allows larger structural and spatial elements to grow from it.

The orange elements represent the structural and spatial appropriation around the container and the support.

A diagram explaining the growth based on a series of negotiated responses between the agents of control (Afrisam Consortium) and the agents of ownership (Retail Elements).

The scheme is broken into 5 main phases preceded by 6 sensitive pre-phases. These are explained here, focusing on phase 2 as the ‘main design’ for the presentation.

To re-iterate the concept, that the building begins as something small and through a series of negotiated responses ‘grows’ into something much larger that leaves behind a residue that is appropriatable by future generations.

The process explained:

Phase A

A small intervention, a structural support element that provides a loading support to a cement retailer at a key junction between pedestrian, rail and road crossing.

Phase B

The intervention grows as the space is appropriated, while the agents of control add to the infrastructure through discussion of needs.

Phase C-F

As energy increases around intervention more infrastructure is supplied as cement retail increases, the orange blocks represent the sub infill, where the retailers let out the space in between to smaller more temporary retail based on need and accommodation.


At this point the development is fully functioning cement and building supply depot, with smaller retail filling in between. The framework development begins with introduction of a serviced tar road linking the site tot he rest of Mamelodi.

The depot itself is made of de-centralised storage (Agents of Ownership) and infrastructural support including loading facilities, training spaces, and office area for Afrisam Consortium (Agent of Control).

Phase 2

Many of the original container have provided the support necessary for the agents of ownership to build there own temporary/permanent structures according to their requirements.

The framework has now developed the intersection and provided a small service road to retail elements against the rail edge, while this develops the front of house (street edge)


The zenith of development, the intervention has grown and merged with the existing train station. The storage facility now stretches over the rail, and provides longer term storage for goods in containers across the rail.

The framework development is now almost complete.

Phase 4

The cement depot program has almost faded now, with the residue of this development allowing medium scale industry (carpenters, welders, pre-fab zozo and brick making) to appropriate the spaces against the rail edge with the street edge now a bustling front of house, extending across the road.

Phase 5

The industrial nature f the program is now gone, with the major framework development being completed, the site is now a major high street and retail center with the container gantry that serviced the storage facility becoming a pedestrian bridge over the busy intersections.

The container storage laid the way for the train station that is now serviced y the adjacent transport interchange and industrial yard across the busier road.


Our presentations were marked by an external local Architect who, during my crit, discussed the ideas of support and infill and the dualities that exist between doing to much and too little.

I was told that there is not enough building on my behalf, and that I should design more.

I don’t feel its an exercise of designing more, as what is presented is the 5th version of on going process that encompasses 11 phases within it.
The process of ‘non-design’ requires more investigation and design and a simple design does. The challenge lies in how to represent and present the work that goes into it correctly without overwhelming the viewer.

The rest of the class was given an indication mark: i.e P=Pass, F=Fail, MP=Medium Pass e.t.c.

I was given a question Mark: ?


Masters Dissertation – Milestone 3

Milestone 3
Beware of Paprophila – the fear of commiting design to paper.
(Studio Banter, 2011)

Milestone 3 marks the half way point in this year’s dissertation ‘race’.
Being forced to produce a design and put it on paper although painful, has the benefit of exposing the hidden pitfalls and potentialls to the light of peer review, but more crucial – to one’s own ‘objective’ self criticism.
Although right now, I’m not happy with the design, I know that this tooth pulling process of committing something to paper will lead to a more appropriate solution.
Milestone H: Chapters 1-5

Masters Dissertation – Milestone 2


When thing go bad, BOOM! …Disney…

(Studio Colleugue Henner,2011)

With 5 weeks until the half way mark, the dissertation is beginning to fall into place.

Working in studio has been the single most valuable decision I have made since I began post grad.  The atmosphere, the knowledge exchange and communal idea forming that takes place in the seemingly lost and ‘wasted’ hours of coffee break chats and procastinatory pranks have pushed the entire dissertation to a new level of enjoyment and academic calibre.

Strange to say, but I’m actually looking forward to 25 more weeks of studio-madness; 2:30am ephiphany’s and the strange feeling of warped reality that only the bowels of boukunde’s ‘night life’ can bring.


Masters Dissertation – Draft Chapters 1-3

You cannot create life in 9 months…  
Dissertation Year Co-ordinator (Koning Laubscher, 2011)
The year continues on, stealing from me my the small degree of socialness that I once had, as well as my grip on what I once thought was ‘normal’ behaviour… I digress.
Chapters 1-3; Encompassing my revised thought process on what I plan to do this year.
No building yet, but some informative site visits, data and great interviews and an idea for an idea.

Masters Dissertation – Milestone 1


“Design, like many things,  is not a linear process…”
(Koning Darth Laubscher,2011)

Only now, in the 13th week of my final year, am I finally feeling like I’m getting into the issue of what I’m really dealing with in my Master’s Dissertation.
Its amazing how much of the time has been spent thinking, writing, discussing and throwing out the multitude of ideas and themes that present themselves in one moment as the salvation of your deadlines worries then quickly become the core of your design thinking struggle.
What has been greatly rewarding is seeing how an idea is formed from the initial spark of interest and through the repetitive process of  moulding, critiquing, reforming it slowly takes shape into something that is worth putting on paper.

The Year Breakdown

The year has been divided, by our fearless leader – one Koning Darth Laubscher, into several Milestone Deadlines. These deadlines are supported by smaller hand in milestones and have had the class on their toes since we started in February.
Although it feels like the order and requirements for each of these submissions is counter to what one feels like doing at the time, it has been remarkable how this ‘un-linear’ process has worked to push the progress of the work to where it needs to be, the words of our critical co-ordinator sound constantly in my mind:
“Design, like many things,  is not a linear process…”

Milestone A –  Critical Review: Precedent Theses

We began the year with a critical evaluation of previous theses submitted by Pretoria Students and compared them to International Theses that we could find.

The University of Pretoria has an amazing database of theses, that are extremely well organised and freely available to anyone.
This resource has been invaluable so far:

Milestone B – Mapping Exercise – Mamelodi vs Menlyn

This was followed by an exercise in mapping, where we examined and discussed the various academic methods of mapping and presented a small experimental mapping exercise.

The experiment my group choose was to attempt to map perceptions of place between Menlyn and Mamelodi.

We set up the narrative of two different people breaking down in their cars and depicted what they saw and felt from two similar vantage points in BP petrol stations in either point and documented the going ons of the station over a 12 hour period.

This was presented in a short video and followed by a series of questions to the class. These answers were then mapped quickly mapped and discussed.

Milestone C – Theory Overview

We were asked to depict and summarise the theories that we had been taught and explored since first year, again, at first we thought was a mundane exercise, but after completion we realised how much we had actually been exposed to over the course of our careers so far, as well as the theories we were going to explore this year.

I presented Ken Yeang’s theories of biological integration of buildings into the environment and cited Simon Van Der Ryn’s writings of Ecological design around buildings, both theorists covering the topics of Deep Ecology.

Diagrams adapted from Ken Yeang’s Eco Masterplanning, 2005 

I also was looking to explore the themes and principles around Open Building and spoke of the work of Nabeel Hamdi and John Habraken.

 Diagrams adapted from Nabeel Hamdi’s Placemakers Guide, 2010
Hamdi Poem from Small Change

This became somewhat of a confidence building exercise, I borrowed the graphic concept from an image I found online, I could not find the original author to reference, but adapted it so display my career thus far.

Mapping of my Career thus Far

We were also required to represent a parti-diagram, which I realise now is more a functional process diagram of how I intended to approach the design

Functional Process Diagram of  my intended approach

Milestone D – Chapter 1: Broad Strokes

The submission had us write out our first chapter, which in a thesis document is intended to explain and set up your entire book – a sort of abstract chapter.

Book Cover : Draft x

By this stage I had decided on working in Mamelodi, and I had a vague impression of how I wanted to explain my ideas.

I knew I wanted my project to deal with some of the issues around developing the previously disadvantaged areas in this country and I felt that I wanted to be involved closely with the chosen client.

I had visited an NGO earlier in the year and while I knew that I wouldn’t work with them, I felt the interview I had with them had started some ideas in my mind.

 Diagram Explaining my idea’s around developmental Aid in South Africa

Still unsure of my focus at this point, I found myself writing a very general description of what I intended to do, although the process of writing opened up my thinking and forced me to start thinking more towards a design problem and a building.

Milestone E – Critical Building Review and Group Site Discussions

Critical Review – As part of our pre-scribed work we were required to write a short article in the same style and format as the Architecture South Africa. It was easy for the class to design a template for this, but the difficulty lay in that we could not write about an already published building.

Site Selection Summary – Closing in on where, what and how I wanted to work, I drew up a good old fashioned SWOT list.

At this stage I was still battling with my site choice and had visited a few sites in the area:

Viva Village is an NGO run by Melonie and Leon Kriel in Mamelodi East. They are very active in aiding the people of this area in developmental aid and several initiatives running at the moment from day care to trade skills training.

Ext 12 was where I discovered a group of guys making bricks with some low cost materials and production methods. This seemed a very interesting place to work and I was quite interested in the idea of brick making and the energies around the production of these bricks.

Eerste Fabriek was a site that another of my group member had chosen, as was well situated in the GAPP framework in terms of future development and contained some very sensitive and beautiful heritage elements.

By now I had been joined by two colleagues in the Mamelodi Labarotory of research and we had been luckily enough to come across GAPP Architecture’s proposed framework for the Mamelodi/Nellmapius area and used that as our basis for the proposal.

We had also decided on some ideas around a group framework, and the themes around the process of manufacture and production emerged as the dominant idea at the time.

Group Concept Diagram

In the end I chose a site adjacent the Pienaarspoort Station, in Mameldoi East after some good advice in regard to working with existing energies and infrastructure, also due to its energy levels around the station, the nature of the housing in the area, and basically a gut feel.

Mamelodi East

Milestone 1 – Concept Presentation

Probably the hardest presentation of my career so far, we had to present our concepts to a jury of externals.

At this stage I’d begun to understand that I was really dealing with aspects of community and how they are more defined through the ideas of a network rather than the current notions of ‘community’.

Visual Thesaurus Diagram of Terms around Community

This process of drawing out exactly what we were going to do and present it was extremely difficult, but through this I reached an amazing level of clarity in my own thinking.

Mind Map of thoughts around Community and Vulnerability at the time

Even though what I presented was not exactly what I was going to do, the act of putting my current thinking on paper and defending it allowed me the freedom to start thinking about how I’m going to intervene on site.

I decided after that presentation to focus on the networks around the brick makers I had met earlier in the year.

Milestone F – Framework Presentations

We had to present our ideas for our framework presentation and summarise how we were going to intervene at an urban level. Because the 3 of us working in Mamelodi were so far apart, we agreed on the points of GAPP’s framework we liked and then each responded individually to our own sites.

Milestone G.1 – Chapters 1-3: Broadstrokes

The last submission of the term was the broad strokes submission of chapters 1-3. Again this process of forcing ideas onto paper has brought me to a clearer stage of thinking.


Moving Forward

Post hand in I’ve begun to start considering the notions of ‘temporal architcture’ for this site.

My gut is telling me that the intervention needs to be designed into many phases with each phase being functionally holistic towards the next:

i.e While working in Slovo Park we designed benches for the mobile clinic, but those benches were designed to support walls later to house the actual clinic e.t.c

So the quick easy phases (required for interventions in economically  vulnerable areas) can be implemented to meet the basic needs while the function remains intricately linked with the space for the next more complex

Within this idea is that of a temporal architecture; the beauty of aesthetic  beautiful lies in its ‘non completness’ the same way that buildings under construction are more interesting and expressive than the complete product.

And that in an area like Mamelodi, this is crucial in order to allow the building to grow with the people’s development and cultivate ownership and meaning towards the structure.

I feel the programme’s around the brick makers and linked construction activities will serve to enforce this idea as well.


Corobrik Student of the Year Awards- 2010

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.


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 

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  

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 

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 

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 

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

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

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.

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.


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
‘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