Architectural Showcase for Educational Developments
In this, the final chapter on Legacy, I discuss the valuable contribution that landscape architects make to the design professions and, more importantly, the definition of our urban environments. The main, but not exclusive focus of landscape architects is the design of spaces between buildings, the most important aspect being the organization, manipulation and articulation of the ground plane.
The appropriately named Centenary Building (or Eeufeesgebou) commemorates a hundred years of architectural diversity on the University of Pretoria campus. The vision and growth of the academic community resulted in an eclectic array of architectural styles in one precinct.
The first chapter on legacy in South African architecture described how architecture can define the urban environment so as to deal with the spatial consequences of Apartheid. Martin Kruger, a Cape Town based architect and urban designer, is unequivocally in his belief in the contextual derivations of any building. "I believe the site of any new building is significant. I am interested in urban beginnings, how the building I am designing can contribute to the making of city. Therefore, the site...
The first chapter on Legacy in Architecture focused on a recently opened health-care project in the Western Cape. This chapter now turns to a research project focused on new ways of thinking about health care. Academia is often the testing ground for new thinking. The Masters in Architecture (Professional) course is the fifth and final year of architectural studies at and the University of Pretoria. It is a year of self exploration in which the students choose their own site and program but,...
Architect and academic Arthur Barker of the University of Pretoria believes there is a way of thinking about architecture in this country, that says something particular about South African architecture. To explore this notion, he identified five themes which strongly inform local architecture, namely identity, legacy, memory, security and ethics.
The legacy of Apartheid in South Africa is, beyond the economic realities, tangibly visible in the spatially segregated layout of our cities and suburbs and the poor definition of urban environments. Many so-called townships are far from work opportunties and much-needed municipal and local government services. Poverty exacerbates ill-health and with an ever increasing TB and HIV infection rate there is a dire need for access to to adequate health services.
In July 2014 I was fortunate to be able to visit two recent buildings by Morphosis architects, one in New York (NY) and the other in Los Angeles (LA). The experiences got me thinking about the relationship between formal, functional and contextual identity in architecture.
Following the recent announcement of the 28th National Corobrik Student Architectural Awards, my conflicted standpoint about the identity of architectural schools in South Africa has been partially resolved. The addition of three university projects to the GifA exhibition a few weeks back has answered some questions, but also left me with the sense that the formal architectural identity of the schools from years-gone-by has dissipated. And perhaps rightly so.
When I was a student, the identity of many architecture schools in South Africa was forged by nationally, and sometimes even internationally, revered designers such as Ivor Prinsloo and Roelof Uytenbogaardt at the University of Cape Town (UCT), Danie Theron at the then University of Port Elizabeth (now Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University - NMMU), Pancho Guedes at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Dieter Holm at the University of Pretoria (UP) and Bannie Britz at the University of...
How do we define ourselves as designers? Are we always fully conscious of the way we make design decisions and do we establish a relationship between our personal design identity and that of the world out there?