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ACCESSENABLE by Andrew Chaveas Thesis Presented to the Faculty Department of Architecture School of Architecture Philadelphia University In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of BACHELOR OF ARCHITECTURE Thesis Research Faculty Thesis Studio Instructor Susan I. FrostĂŠn Academic Advisor: Carol Hermann Professional Advisors: Tod Corlett Christopher Harnish Richard Dobson Phumzile Xulu

Marketplaces evince an energy captivated both through the interactions between buyer and seller, and encased within the space in which the market exists. Historically, these markets often associated with the industrial trends of the surrounding city, town or local community. However, over the past few decades, the influences of the Internet and digital technology have not only impacted the method of interaction between the users, but it has also morphed existing marketplaces and invented new market spaces within which exchange occurs. By observing contemporary industry trends, an appropriate response might explore a new archetype that will develop a relationship between physical place and the virtual marketplace. The exploration of this relationship could generate an architecture that enables access to future market spaces and facilitates social and economic interaction between “formal” buyers and “informal” traders. This thesis attempts to explore this relationship, utilizing the potential of informality as a method of integrating architecture into existing conditions. Through successful integration into existing informal structures, architecture can act as a filter that focuses and intensifies attributes of unfamiliar systems between two opposing perspectives. By engaging existing informal conditions of Warwick Junction, Durban, South Africa, new opportunities for local and global exchange through both physical and virtual market spaces could emerge.


At the origin of “industry”1 existed the ethos of creation; the production of a made object consumable, useable or admirable by man. To the maker of this object, the marketplace signified a place of expression and commerce where his personal industry garners financial acclaim and reputation. Over the past few centuries, successful makers witnessed – and adapted to – the changing organizational and physical characteristics of markets, the epicenter of economic activity. Within the United States, advancements in transportation technology and industrial globalization, as well as “sprawling” development patterns encouraged the creation of a “retail” archetype, a physical location for the transaction of industry. It is the generation of the World Wide Web that enabled the creation of new “places” for industry to occur; and in 1995, initiated the first virtual marketplace that enabled Internet users to “browse” thousands of book titles and purchase them through the web2. The impact of this technological venture on the experience of industrial exchange profoundly influenced industrial development patterns globally, with a keen focus on digital infrastructure. Resultantly, multiple investors and entrepreneurs generated various virtual marketplaces, such as, providing crafts-people with both a place to sell their product (Figure 1) and the potential to reach thousands of new buyers.3 The establishment of these new marketplaces encouraged a new generation of craftsmen to revive old hobbies and pursue the sales of made objects as primary or supplemental income, establishing a new form of American industry. As this industry cements into American culture and spreads globally, the virtual marketplace continues to grow, and the “places” where industry commences require reassessment. Various quantitative and qualitative aspects of the virtual marketplace – “flexible forms of production, marketing, and distribution” - might effectively eliminate “many traditional constrains on location of commerce and industry and enable the formation of new spatial 1 While “industry” can easily become an ambiguous word, this thesis will align primarily with the Webster-Merriam Dictionary definition: “economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufacture of goods” 2

Chris Anderson, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More. (New York, Hyperion, 2006), 23.

Figure 1 - Shifts in market proximity

3 Etsy,, 2008 statistics show an average monthly growth of 91,000 new, registered users; 20,000 of these users were classified as “sellers”. September 2010 counted 210,000 new, registered users. A majority of these numbers come from a rising number of jobless individuals diving into their creative potential to find, or create, work. Most of this creative potential manifests in the rediscovery of “hobbies”, which leads individuals to rediscover the value of craftsmanship and making things by hand.

patterns”4. For many developed nations, both buyers and sellers experience ease of access to the virtual marketplace through rapidly developing technology – 3G wi-fi and the “smart phone” – and an adaptable Internet infrastructure. Increasing efficiency of shipping industries like FedEx and UPS lower shipping costs and encourage this type of virtual business to commence. Other aspects of the Internet such as blogging and social networking allow crafts-people to rapidly and vastly market their products; likewise, consumers use these tools to filter and find products or recommendations for a product they desire.5 The transfer of a crafted product from the craftsman to the consumer no longer requires traditional retail spaces; rather, the producer and consumer may exist in two separate places, but meet in one, larger, virtual marketplace. However, not all craftsmen can attain the potential of this new commercial setting, particularly those who create objects and trade within informal industries: markets largely hidden and barred from the virtual marketplace. While the exact number of these craftsmen may remain unattainable because of its invisible nature, studies suggest the following information on informal trade: “Informal employment comprises one half to three-quarters of nonagriculture employment in developing countries: specifically, 48 per cent of non-agricultural employment in North Africa; 51 per cent in Latin America; 65 per cent in Asia; and 72 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa. If South Africa is excluded, the share of informal employment in non-agricultural employment rises to 78 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa. If data were available for additional countries in Southern Asia, the regional average for Asia would likely be much higher.”6 Many of these traders depend on their ability to approximate close to large amounts of people for profit; however, their inability to access the virtual marketplace restricts them to economic interactions through the traditional and mostly informal spatial arrangements (Figure 2) of bazaars, streets, rail stations and other locations.7 Conditions of government 4 5 6

William Mitchell, E-topia (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999), 99. Chris Anderson, 65.

Marty Chen and Joann Vanek, Women and Men in the Informal Economy: A Statistical Picture. (International Labor Organization, 2002), 2.


Caroline Skinner, “Street Trade in Africa: A Review” in Working Paper No 51. (School of Development Studies: 2008), 2.

Figure 2 - Access diagram

corruption, economic instability, social unrest, unjust histories, and other detrimental situations result in the “infrastructural and super structural deficiencies [that] hinder the successful accomplishments”8 of technological development and active integration into a global economy through the Internet. In addition to these macro-level concerns, other micro level concerns like cost and access to personal computers and other digital equipment further discourage the practicality of individual participation in the virtual marketplace. This challenge of access provides an opportunity for architecture to create new spatial opportunities to serve “invisible craftsmen” in informal economies by creating a place that merges existing physical conditions with the virtual marketplace, enabling access increased economic opportunities through future market spaces.

Figure 3 - Informality diagram

The architectural manifestation of this space can result from a careful analysis and understanding of the nature of “informality” both within the physical and virtual marketplaces. While informality may seem like a lofty and ambiguous concept, a simple diagram - “a system of crosses running into a system of circles” – can “immediately [produce] all the conditions of the informal” market setting9 (Figure 3). When applying this simple diagram to the social and physical conditions of informal markets, it reveals that all of the attributes of a formal market – product display, monetary exchange, market value, supply and demand, etc. – exist; however, these components juxtapose in haphazard locations and provide the appearance of informality. Similarly, the virtual marketplace provides a separate experience of informality. At it’s origin, a website on the Internet begins as a series of numbers and letters sequenced in a fashion that appears informal and illegible (Figure 4). But when appearing on a screen, users discover a clear, navigable interface that reads as a formal, virtual marketplace. While informality in itself poses many questions and both a theory and a form, Cecil Balmond best explains “the informal relates to the Formal [by] taking two ordered systems and allowing one to invade the other.” 10 Realistically, informality exists based on the stance from which multiple, integrated formal systems are perceived. This understanding of informality provides a foundational approach for architecture to structure itself physically, while effectively and sensitively integrating into existing systems. 8

Carlos Ferran and Ricardo Salim. “Electronic Business in Developing Countries: The Digitalization of Bad Practices?” in Electronic Business in Developing Countries: Opportunities and Challenges. (Idea Group Publishing, 2006), 54.

Figure 4 - Internet informality

9 10

Cecil Balmond, informal, (New York: Prestel, 2002), 117. Balmond, 145.

Furthermore, by recognizing the reality of informality, one opportunity for the creation of future market space can occur through the installation of an architecture that acts as a filtration system. “Filters” can act much like a lens, focusing and intensifying those attributes of unfamiliar systems that enable clarification and understanding between two opposing perspectives. In the case of the physical marketplace, “filters” of information, usually in the form of knowledge and understanding obtained from direct communication with the traders, add a layer of discernment to the cognitive experience of the physical marketplace. For the virtual marketplace, visual cues from the web interface, and more specific “search” options enable the ability to navigate through the Internet in order to browse, buy or sell products within the virtual marketplace.11 In both of these instances, the “filter” acts as a mediator, by taking information that was once complex and indecipherable and applying new layers of awareness and understanding to that same information. Theoretically, this transformational methodology allows for new interactions between both “formal” buyer and “informal” seller by providing both parties with a new understanding of one another. While this “filter” itself can develop into both an architectural and digital form, it cannot act independent of a context – it is, by nature, dependent on the informality surrounding it – and must integrate into a chosen context. One context apt for an application of a system that provides navigation between buyer and seller in both the physical and virtual markets rests in Durban, South Africa. Warwick Junction, a major transportation hub located within Durban, boasts an informal trader population of 8000 persons with an average daily foot-traffic of 460,000 people.12 Over the past decade, Warwick Junction has seen large amounts of municipal and local investment13, resulting in a revitalized marketplace that still maintains the characteristics of an informal marketplace.14 When attempting to provide new means of access within Durban, any architectural intervention must consider the local culture, technological capabilities, climactic conditions, building methodologies, and social 11

Jeffery Huang, “Future Space: A New Blueprint for Business Architecture,” Harvard Business Review (April 2001): 5.

12 13

D Hemson. CBD Durban with special emphasis on Warwick Junction.

Richard Dobson and Caroline Skinner, Working in Warwick, (Durban, School of Development Studies, 2009), 8. 14 This revitalization has also resulted in the generation of two levels of interface that will shape future integration of “filters” that merge the virtual and physical market. First, the collective identity of various markets (i.e. Muthi market, Berea Station, Mcako and Imphepo Market, etc.)

patterns of Warwick Junctions and the traders utilizing this area as commercial space.15 Additionally, other logistical measures can provide a theoretical and practical approach that engages a level of sensitivity appropriate for the post-apartheid context of South Africa, one where the role of the architect must respond to the needs and desires of all citizens.16 For instance, patterns of informality within Warwick should remain at a level of reciprocity versus scalability, as a strong identity is found within each individual market versus the market as a whole. Reciprocity will also encourages a form that is adaptable to the transforming social and spatial conditions of Warwick. Similarly, the inclusion of the opinions and suggestions of the traders and partner organizations17 would not only encourage a more effective architectural implementation, but would also affirm the citizenry of the traders within Warwick. This level of awareness can develop a physical intervention that will remain a supplement to existing informal systems, and will not replace any social or spatial conditions that enable the marketplace to function. Regardless of these conditions, the success of a future market space within Warwick Junction will depend on the appropriate integration of formal and programmatic elements into the existing informality of the marketplace. Should it disrupt or replace any existing patterns of informality or fail to adapt, this space risks creating conflict and confusion within the market. Should it merge with and supplement the existing conditions, this future market space will unveil new interactions between sellers and buyers and provide increased exposure and opportunity for the invisible craftsman of Warwick Junction.

15 More information on Warwick Junction can be found in “Site: Warwick Junction” located on page x. 16

Hannah le Roux, “Undisciplined practices: Architecture in the context of freedom,” in blank_____ Architecture, apartheid and after, Ed. Hilton Judin and Ivan Vladislavic, (New York: Distributed Art Publishers Inc, 1998), 352.


Organizations such as Asiye Etafuleni and WIEGO express an invested interest in the livelihoods of the traders within Warwick Junction.

The informal is opportunistic, an approach to design that seizes a local moment and makes something of it. -Cecil Balmond



Today’s world prosperity is technologically driven. The the

world issue

has of

become a distance is

global village no longer the

where case.

People interact and do business at the click of a mouse. Currently people living on less than a dollar a day in the slums must pay the same rates as those with means to access the internet. The high costs of accessing internet means that many people living in the slums would continue to be out of touch with the rest of the world and poverty will continue stalking them. The need for such facility is also necessitated by lack of a place where students could do their studies and research work online. The nearest place where students can gain online access is a library around is 15 km (9-1/4 miles) away and it is always full with many people. Young people would like to be trained in computer skills that will allow them to compete in the job market, communicate with each other and with the world. They lack a facility where they can gain access to the Internet at rates they can afford and learn these skills.” “NEED” in 2007 AMD OPEN ARCHITECTURE CHALLENGE AFRICA DESIGN BRIEF


Technology and Media Lab Nairobi, Kenya The Global Studio

As part of a competition for the AMD Open Architecture Challenge, and in collaboration with Architecture for Humanity, the SIDAREC (Slums Information Development Resource Center) Technology and Media Lab responds to the desires of a local community in Nairobi, Kenya to equip their citizens with computer training, increasing their ability to compete in a rapidly technologizing world.

Currently, the SIDAREC center is under construction and is near completion., a virtual marketplace selling only handmade, vintage, or supplies products, formal came into existence in the early 2000’s. As a business model and a website, Etsy displays many qualitative traits that could greatly influence the generation of a virtual interface for the informal economy. While the visual layout is standard like most virtual marketplaces (amazon. com,, etc.), there is a focus on the use of clear visuals to both identify the product and the seller. An adaptable navigation interface allows potential buyers to locate products in multiple ways: product type, time of post, location of craftsperson, even color. One concern with this precedent is that the business transaction system is dependent on PayPal, a digital exchange service that relies on the existence of stable bank accounts and credit card lines. A lack of stable and efficient banking systems within the informal marketplace could not adapt to this type of system.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Anderson, Chris. The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More. New York: Hyperion, 2006. Balmond, Cecil. Informal. New York: Prestel, 2002. Chen, Marty and Joann Vanek. Women and Men in the Informal Economy: A Statistical Picture. International Labor Organization, 2002. Crawford, Matthew B. Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work. New York: Penguin Press: 2009. Dobson, Richard and Caroline Skinner. Working in Warwick. Durban: School of Development Studies, 2009. Ernst, Dieter and Bengt-Ake Lundvall. “Information Technology in the Learning Economy: Challenges for Developing Countries.” DRUID Working Papers (1997) Ferran, Carlos and Ricardo Salim. “Electronic Business in Developing Countries: The Digitalization of Bad Practices?” in Electronic Business in Developing Countries: Opportunities and Challenges. Idea Group Publishing, 2006: 46-61. Grest, Jeremy. “Urban citizenship and legitimate governance: the case of the Greater Warwick Avenue and Grey Street Urban Renewal Project, Durban.” TRANSFORMATION (2004): 38-57. Hemson, D. CBD Durban with special emphasis on Warwick Junction. Huang, Jeffery. “Future Space: A New Blueprint for Business Architecture.” Harvard Business Review (April 2001): 2-11. le Roux, Hannah. “Undisciplined practices: Architecture in the context of freedom.” blank_____ Architecture, apartheid and after. Ed. Hilton Judin and Ivan Vladislavic. New York: Distributed Art Publishers Inc, 1998. 351-357. Mitchell, William J. E-topia. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999. Etsy. Shier, Judith. “The State of the Informal Economy.” SANPAD. (22 Sept. 2009). Skinner, Caroline. “Street Trade in Africa: A Review” in Working Paper No 51. Durban: School of Development Studies, 2008.



Opposite: Diagram of most digitally connected cities in the world. Visualization of centralized development of the global, economic marketplace. Above: An array of products that remain “invisible� despite a rapidly globalizing society.

Diagram of potential locations for the implementation of an architecture that enables interaction within the global marketplace.

Diagrammatic understanding of formal industry within marketplace.

Diagrammatic understanding of informal industry within marketplace.

Sequence from formal structure, to informal interaction, to activated informal interactions.

Conceptual exploration of physical and/or virtual implementation of a unit that enables interaction between trader and tourist/buyer through physical and digital interfaces.

Various physical, economic, digital barriers exist between the physical marketplace of the maker and the virtual marketplace of the buyer.

If these barriers disappear, resulting in the interaction between trader and buyer, new opportunities for social, economic, and cultural interaction emerge.

This thesis will focus on the exploration of a process that begins with and emphasis of two disparate groups to learn about and from each other.

From this new understanding of means and methods, makers generate new products that respond to consumer needs and personal desires for new production.

The joining piece within the process results in the sale of these products within the virtual marketplace, expanding the degrees of access to potential consumers.

To understand this process architectonically, the establishment of programmatic elements creates an understanding of spatial relationships.








Durban, South Africa

(sourced from

Warwick Junction lies on the edge of the Durban’s inner-city and is the primary public transport interchange in the city. On an average day the area accommodates 460 000 commuters, and at least 6000 street vendors. Given the confluence of rail, taxi and bus transport, this area has always been a natural market for street vendors. The Markets of Warwick includes between 5000 and 8000 vendors trading in 9 distinct markets. Currently this is the only informally structured market in a public space of this magnitude, and thus establishes itself as the single most authentic African market that South Africa has to offer. The products available vary from beadwork, traditional arts and crafts, traditional cuisine, fresh produce, music and entertainment merchandise, clothing, accessories and traditional medicine.

The historical significance of the Warwick area is important, as it reflects the changing sociopolitical and spatial conditions of South Africa. Steeped in racial discrimination, the Warwick area was neglected and abandoned by the apartheid government. It was initially Indian indentured labourers who began trading on the street sidewalks in this area, and for example, built the Badsha Peer Shrine which remains an iconic piece of architecture in Brook Street. With the gradual influx of black African traders into the area, Warwick became a central hub of commerce and trading activity despite constant harassment by the apartheid police. It was only in the late 1980s that traders were given recognition for their economic contribution and granted permission to remain in specifically allocated trading locations on the streets. Since then trader committees have been established to work alongside the Municipality and various sector support organizations to create and maintain an effective informal trading location benefiting the traders and the 70, 000 – 100, 000 people who depend on these vendors’ income.

predominantly white neighborhoods predominantly black neighborhoods Warwick Junction

Diagram of residential relationship to Durban CBD. Identifies Warwick Junction as central to a majority of residential neighborhood.

automobile arteries passenger rail

Diagram of major traffic arteries in Durban Area. Identifies Warwick Junction as central location for a majority of these locations.

taxi depot

taxi + bus shelter

community center bead market music street bridge muthi market early morning market victoria street market berea station market brook street market bovine headcookers market

Diagram of Warwick Junction. Existing buildings developed within the marketplace resulting from the eThekwini Municipality Development Plan.

bus/train stations formal public transit

taxi rinks informal public transit

Diagram of transportation hubs within the marketplace.

Site Section. Analysis of hubs, nodes, and informal meeting spaces derived from an analysis of inter-market connectivity.

“hubs� - points of entry into market

nodes - physical, social, economic merge points within market informal meeting spaces - frequented for the transfer of products and ideas

Identify and establish nodes and hubs.

Representational diagram of economic and social connections between nodes and hubs.

Resulting points of interaction between overlapping layers of economic and social information. “hubs� - points of entry into market

nodes - physical, social, economic merge points within market informal meeting spaces - frequented for the transfer of products and ideas

automobile arteries passenger rail

Analysis of major traffic arteries flowing through Warkwick Junction.

Site Identification Diagram. Three potential sites that posses close proximity to physical traffic accessible by both the trader and the buyer.

Diagram of Site. Existing buildings all contribute to the efforts of the seda Ethekwini Incubator Program - an initiative to support small, entrepreneurial businesses.

Within close proximity of the site, small pockets of informal economic activity provide and existing environment of commerce for the proposed process.

When attempting to select a site and develop a program, it was recognized that an existing social initiative of Asiye Etafuleni, a local NGO, already exhibited characteristics that this thesis proposes to achieve. Namely, it begins to integrate those who are unfamiliar to the informal marketplace by educating them of the various markets. This process provides clarity to the apparent informality present at Warwick, and it enables social and economic interactions between trader and buyer.

Buyer/Tourist Vehicular Access. Overpass provides visual access to the site for potential buyers utilizing the highway to access the CBD and attractions.

Trader Vehicular Access. The close proximity of the bus depot and taxi rinks provides trader traffic and access to the site.

Traffic visibility from N-3 Overpass.

Market Street - Facing South




Conceptual development of physical response to process began with the exploration of the trader/

Early development created connections between process elements and physical site implementation through the accessing of physical thresholds.

Diagramming anticipated usage of a new facility solidifies a need for the application of fluid public spaces - permeable but protected.





Further development organized programmatic elements within a matrix of indoor/ outdoor, physical/digital. This matrix addressed practical concerns of security, privacy, and accessibility voiced by locals.

Infusing this matrix with intersecting planes that respond to programmatic size, site conditions, and permeable security enabled the project development to consider site conditions and restraints.

Analysis of the planar typologies within the marketplace. Traders within the marketplace posses a utilitarian understanding of the horizontal plane.

The most pronounced element of the project, the horizontal plan, responds in elevation to define circulation spines and control passive dayligting and cooling technology.

Daylight studies (1200) to examine relationship between planar arrangement and daylighting.

Further understanding of the potential for the planar typology reveals an ability to serve as a surface for communication.

The development of a structural grid pulled from structures surrounding the existing site permits the development of a planar language that begins to enclose the site.

The practical application of local building technologies and materiality led to the exploitation of a feasible construction typology.

The selective opening of the existing barrier along market street provides public entry while maintaining flexible security.

Digital Display Screens provide visitors with a comprehensive understanding of the development occurring within both the facility and the marketplace.

Covered public space provides opportunities for instances of unexpected interactions and opportunities for economic, social and educational exchange.

Detail Section Model - Display Wall

Andrew Chaveas


Philadelphia University Architectural Thesis Project Seeking the practical and possible application of architectural services to the potenti...