Re-educating the City â€“ A public exhibition of design lessons
Last edited: June 02, 2011
Posted by Business and Arts South Africa
Re-educating the City â€“ A public exhibition of design lessons learnt from inner city school sites in Johannesburg (16 designs by architecture masters students from the University of Johannesburgâ€™sFaculty of Art, Design and Architecture)
Date: Exhibition opens Thursday 2 June, at 6pm (official exhibition opening at 7pm, by David Andrew
of the Wits School of the Arts)
Venue: 6 De Beer Street, Braamfontein
Exhibition runs until 21 June and is open to the public on weekdays from 10am-4pm.
Re-educating the City is the title given to the 7-week design unit which generated the projects which will be on public display in Braamfontein, from 2-21 June 2011. This exhibition showcases the research and design work of 16 architectural Masters students, from the University of Johannesburgâ€™s Department of Architecture. The project goal is to rethink, interrogate and build on the success of existing, hybrid and brand new spatially evolved schooling models within the context of Johannesburgâ€™s inner city. The project forms part of the University of Johannesburgâ€™s brand new post-graduate MTech Architectural Design Technology (MTech Prof) programme, which was launched at the beginning of 2011. The exciting new programme fosters a focused engagement with the various contexts of Johannesburg, and will use the ongoing work generated by students to establish a growing archive of possible urban and architectural responses to this unique cityâ€™s given and shifting contexts and situations. The many-sided and dynamic multi-spatial qualities of Johannesburg are crucial components of the programmeâ€™s identity.
Click here to be linked to the studentsâ€™ blog, which documents the working process around this project:http://re-educatingthecity.tumblr.com/, or here, to view the Facebook group:http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=150245328377080.
The blog platform has been used to make the research and design proposals generated via the project accessible to as wide as possible an audience. The following students were involved in this project: Dewald Badenhorst, Dean Boniface, Dirk Coetser, Dana Gordon, Zakeeya Kalla, Julian Manshon, Matthew Millar, Karabo Mokaba, Jarryd Murray, Trisha Parbhoo, Taswald Pillay, Miguel Pinto, Sean Pillan, John Saaiman, Salome Snyman & Daniel Lyomga.
For this project four inner city sites embodying different contexts and scales â€“ classified as Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large sites â€“ provide entry points into the subject matter:
SMALL (Juta Street, Braamfontein) This site holds a small infill building, previously used as office space, later as a coffee-shop. It currently accommodates a primary school and has a large courtyard-like play area to the south of the school building. The intimate nature of the site encourages the detailed exploration of the classroom module, as well as strategies for the growth of the existing school.
MEDIUM (Corner Pritchard & Polly Streets, Fashion District) The site comprises a vacant nine-storey inner city building â€“ with shops, parking and office spaces â€“ located in the heart of the Fashion District in downtown Johannesburg. The building lends itself to exploring ideas for a medium-size inner city school in an area of very limited open space, situated within a defined urban grain.
LARGE (City block, defined by Claim, Plein, Banket and De Villiers Streets)
This site consists of a city block, located on the east side of Johannesburg's CBD. The block is part of a vibrant and lively urban area. It sits in an area which houses a diverse urban mix of existing schools, transportation hubs, public parks, markets and cultural centres. These various functions serve the immediate needs of the vibrant surrounding neighbourhood.
EXTRA LARGE (Windybrow precinct)
The Windybrow precinct consists of a series of public amenities, including a functioning theatre, a housing estate, a pre-school, neighbourhood park, gym, workshop, church, and a high-rise slum; two vacant three-storey buildings lie immediately south of the existing theatre. This interesting yet disjointed mix of urban components provides a challenging opportunity to explore and imagine the role which a school could play within this context.
The Re-educating the City design project is one of four site-specific Johannesburg-based projects conceptualised by Alexander Opper and the MTech Architectural Technology teaching staff at the University of Johannesburg. Re-educating the City is being run in collaboration with architect Thiresh Govender, of Urban Works. Just before the opening of the exhibition, an invited jury of architects and urban designers will evaluate the project outcomes to see how successfully students recorded, responded to, and worked with and within the particularities of each of the four urban sites. The exhibition forms a key part of the intent of this Masters programme: it is planned to exhibit the research and design projects generated by project-specific contexts, back into those contexts and publics which led to their emergence.
Alexander Opper, Senior Lecturer and Co-ordinator of the new Masters programme, has the following to say about the new post-graduate programme for aspiring architects:
â€œThis programme is based on an experimental model which fosters the exploration and development of an approach to spatial practice consciously rooted in a multi-disciplinary attitude to the â€˜makingâ€™ of architecture and place. It attempts to productively exploit Johannesburgâ€™s â€˜citynessâ€™ (a term borrowed from Saskia Sassen, which she uses to challenge the more generic and universally applied term â€˜urbanityâ€™). The programme uses the physical and mental space of the design-studio, together with fieldwork, as mutually dependant parts of a cross-field think-tank of possibilities. Through this laboratory-like view of the studio and the city, the mutually interdependent and informing relationships between the architecture of cities, and cities of architecture, are questioned, tested and developed. The nature of the programme does not differentiate strictly between rural and urban, landscape and building, human-made and natural. It looks at the broad and sprawling locus of Johannesburgâ€™s multiple manifestations as a kaleidoscopic condition â€“ sometimes juxtaposed, sometimes interwoven â€“ to develop methods of architecture-as-research, towards successful new modes of making non-formulaic and non-western-centric â€˜citynessâ€™â€.
Masters student Matthew Millar has the following to say, reflecting on the mapping process which led to his design proposal for this project: â€œI wanted to simultaneously challenge and work with the island-like quality of the Windybrow precinct (the Extra Large site). The site, in its current state, shows up contradictory and schizophrenic conditions of inside/outside and inclusion/exclusion.â€
We hope that you enjoy the fruits of the Masters studentsâ€™ labours and invite you to return to the exhibition, with interested parties, for its duration.
For further information, please feel free to contact Alexander Opper (email@example.com) or Thiresh
On behalf of the University of Johannesburgâ€™s Department of Architecture I would like to thank
the following individuals and organisations for their generous financial and material assistance
in making this exhibition possible:
Adam Levi and Carl Ascroft, at Play Braamfontein, for making the exhibition space available
The PG Group
Bos Ice Tea
Lauren van der Merwe (UJ / FADA Marketing)