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architecture student magazine | argitektuurstudentetydskrif | 2010 department of architecture, university of the free state | departement argitektuur, universiteit van die vrystaat

dr wasserfall - sophia gray memorial lecture

PROF raman advises department of architecture face lift


editor’s letter

This is not a Magazine but the A Magazine.

i n d e x

by Pieter Mocke


represents Architecture and this year we bring you Architecture articles and projects from around the world. Exclusive international and national articles on projects are included in this issue, such as the Tampa Museum of Art in Florida, Ernst & Young Head Office in Windhoek and St Cyprians Girls School in Cape Town. We are proud to show you the design of our new architectural department, which will make life in the department much more spacious, liveable and productive. Tips are given in an article to those who struggle with architectural design. This is some of the exciting articles which will follow. This A Magazine explains and describes architecture as the art and technique of designing and building, distinguished from the

skills associated with construction. The practice of architecture emphasises spatial relationships, orientation, the support of activities to be carried out within a designed environment, and the arrangement and visual rhythm of structural elements, as opposed to the design of structural systems themselves. Appropriateness, uniqueness, a sensitive and innovative response to functional requirements, and a sense of place within its surrounding physical and social context distinguish a built environment as representative of a culture’s architecture. Yes! This is what architecture stands for in A Magazine. I would like to thank the sponsors who made the magazine possible and the editorial committee: Danelle Keulder, Jacobus Kriel, Khoatsana Sempe.

Pieter Mocke - Editor


May you live in interesting times - A call to consciousness


voorgestelde aanbouing: departement argitektuur, uv


advice to those who struggle with architectural design


tampa museum of art, tampa, florida


concordia cum veritate




architecture writ small




fun facts


ernst & young head office, windhoek


company profile: Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners


company profile: arup


can installation art be architecture?


thinking, making


Book review: the hand of the architect, alterstudio partners


Architecture and being the new sponges


Why architecture?


Design thinking: shaping mind skills for design resolution


Finding Harmony between People, Buildings and Nature


slaggate en risiko’s in boukontrakte


South Africa to host architecture mega event


Campus Planning conference 12-02-2010




5th year student work - corobrik


the architecture of the year 3000

Although all reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this magazine, neither the publisher nor the compiler or sponsors accept any liability for any consequence arising from the use there of or the information contained therein. Should there be any omissions or discrepancies the publisher would gladly put them right in future editions.

May you live in interesting times - A call to consciousness by Martie Bitzer

voorgestelde aanbouing: departement argitektuur, uv

deur Henry Pretorius [Typology Architects]

“May you live in interesting times” is reputed to be the English translation of an ancient Chinese proverb.


very generation however, is convinced that they work and live in the most interesting of times. But if this generation of architectural students would claim it for these times, I would tend to agree… The eyes of a twenty year old has seen a lot. September 11, 2001 has changed perceptions of the world and also of architecture. Nature contributed her share – the 2004 Indonesian tsunami rolled its destructive wave, followed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, mudslides, just recently the Eyjafjallajökull (yes – that’s her name) volcano in Iceland. The volcano has caused flash floods in the short term, proved to be a menace to air travel in Europe and carries the potential of significant weather effects over coming years.

Bibliography Articles Sharp, D. (1989) Criticism in Architecture, Proceedings of the Regional Seminar of the Aga Khan Award of Architecture, Concept Media Ltd, Singapore; 8 -15 Books: Horton, M; Freire, P. We Make The Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change. Temple University Press, 1990 Kamin, B. Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago. University Of Chicago Press, 2003 Weaver Richard M. Ideas Have Consequences. University Of Chicago Press, 1984 Internet: Morrison, Graham (2004) Look at me! Retrieved 1 July 2009 from http://www. artanddesign/2004/ jul/12/architecture. regeneration

In the economic sector you live with the recession sword hanging over a prosperous future. Even Abu Dhabi – the richest city in the world – has actively attempted to diversify its economy in recent years, back-pedalling from the petrodollar and its consequences. All of these events may leave the university graduate about to emerge into a cutthroat job market at a loss. In 1941 Giedion claimed that people had lost all sense of playing a part in history, feeling that they could not keep up with the swift advances made in science and technology. At the first era of the 21st century, however, man finds himself in a different scenario: people today know that “the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas.” Now small actions taken in the past can dramatically affect the future. We live in a moment of unprecedented complexity in which change and information can move faster that our ability to comprehend them. We must aim to make students realise that ideas, like actions, have consequences. Weaver blames the catastrophe of our age on unintelligent choices (Weaver 1948: introduction). I find this the ideal time to remind you that what is noteworthy here in central South Africa is a history that speaks of intelligent choices. It is reflected in the acclaim of our alumni and their performance in the profession (see the latest Digest for their outstanding performances). Here we do not make superficial design decisions. We root our approach in an understanding of our context which might also cultivate a ‘green’ consciousness. This creates a clear focus and a theoretically sound approach which, together with our values and our visions, are reflected in our architecture.

Architecture to us is much more than a parade of skyscrapers, to be ogled like models strutting down a runway. Kamin warns us regarding ‘Cut and Paste’ buildings and he quotes Koolhaas’s reference to the shift from ‘brick and mortar’ to ‘click and mortar’ resulting in cookie-cutter buildings (2003:xix). Le Corbusier wrote: “Architecture is a plastic thing…which is seen and measured by the eyes” (Sharp 1989:14). In a time where the plasticity of buildings, their components and materials are being tested to the full, students need to focus on more than the mere aesthetic, which easily leads to a direct quotation of starchitects’ buildings. They must understand that the building will be judged not merely by its physical appearance, but also by its spatial qualities, its ability to provide the stage for the reality show of real life situations as well as a wide array of other valuation criteria. ‘Architecture has always had its icons. For centuries they took the form of churches and temples. In our secular age we still need familiar and reassuring reference points - but in the rush to fill this void, designers have been falling over themselves to apply the iconic treatment to every conceivable building. These new designs have names like Spiral, Cocoon, Cloud or Vortex, inspiring a sense of poetic wonder. Often, though, they are just ordinary buildings distorted into unnecessarily complicated shapes. Their main purpose is to attract our attention. ‘- Graham Morrison (Morrison 2004). The abovementioned opinions refer to the valuation of buildings based on the visual.

In this school of Architecture we focus on the art and science regarding the making of a product which aims to provide the student in architecture with basic tools to design meaningful space. In their book on education and social change, Horton and Freire have conversations on passion, politics and hope in the collective struggle towards Pedagogy in general – they call it: “We make the Road by Walking”. (1990:introduction). I raise my hat to everyone who walks this road together as I applaud the work exhibited in the passage – may you challenge the time you are living in by bringing your commitment and awareness to the table. We’ll walk the road together even though we may not necessarily know where it may lead.

This page is sponsored by FloorWorx

1st year johanne kotze - man vs machine


lizl heimstadt - wire model

mariska peel - nest

michelle purchase & lourens schoeman - shelter


advice to those who struggle with architectural design by Prof P.G.Raman

... remember that you are an intelligent student...


ir Robert Matthew, the distinguished British architect and Professor of Architecture at Edinburgh University, used to say that surely, if we have intelligent students, we can make them into architects. Similar sentiments are implicit in Jan Smit’s researches on varying conceptualising styles used by students1. There are some positive aspects in each of these styles. Teaching should not only build on the strengths of these but complement them with those that are undeveloped which will gradually help to nurture wellrounded and confident designers. The position of Matthew and Smit is a compassionate one forged from considerable experience of designing and imparting that skill to others. No one, be they teachers or students, can ignore their message. Here then are a set of random advices to those who feel that they are struggling.

Just to show how even celebrated architects rely on precedents to feel self-assured, study the design of Caius College in Cambridge by Leslie Martin, inspired much by Aalto’s work above. You may wonder where Aalto got his idea for the court. It is from his extensive tour of Italy and sketches he made of the Piazzas in that country. In this regard

One of the unwritten laws in design education is that when a student says he or she is struggling, it really means that he or she is not trying hard enough. Replace the word ‘struggle’ with

sketches of what you and what you are trying to do. They do not have to be artistic drawings but merely observational diaries as done by le Corbusier. There is no harm in emulating his method which is not that difficult to do.

models are much more exciting, rewarding and satisfying than the finished ones. Get into the habit of doing as many as you can, making sure that your project is progressively getting better. After all, as the American philosopher John Dewey put it: “an art form has neither beginning nor end, and the art itself is in the making and not the completion”.3

Students who have not developed confidence tend to present their ideas verbally but in architecture if you are not sketching you are not thinking, but only thinking that you are thinking, which is an illusion.

Every model and every drawing is about a certain area of decision-making, and when you give the same information in models and drawings of different scale, it simply reveals that your design thinking is

References 1. Smit, J, The Design Studio as a Laboratory for Experimental Learning, Architecture South Africa, Special Issue, July/August 2009, pp 44-49. 2. Schön, D. A. The Reflective Practitioner, New York, Basic Books, 1983 3. Quoted in Gardens of the Mind, op. cit, p. 95. 4. See his paper entitled the Murmur of the Site, in Anywhere, edited by C. C. Davidson, Rizzoli, New York, 1992, p. 48. 5. ibid, p. 70.


and you will see a surge of motivation to push ahead.

Like in music, the best way to learn to design is by


and not trying to acquire rules for doing. Indeed, the best way to teach design is by demonstration and not by lecturing or talking down to students. Teachers can often be unwilling or unable to teach in this way. For instance, in reviews where drawings are pinned up, teaching by demonstration may not be possible. In these circumstances the recourse of a good teacher will often be to sight precedents. The onus is then on the student to pursue it further. It is remarkable how a good precedent, if pursued with vigor, can boost one’s confidence; whether one is a struggling architect or student. An example might help here. Supposing your idea of a courtyard scheme is criticised, find out what exactly is the


. It could be the size of it in relation to the buildings that surround it, it could be the way entry to it from the buildings and the extended context is organized. Study the courtyards done by either a well-known architect or even your favorite architect; compare yours with it preferably with drawings to the same scale. Then see whether you can learn some lessons from it and apply them. For example, one such precedent for a civic courtyard is the one for the Säynätsalo town centre by Alvar Aalto.


‘Progress without , that unthinking, unthinkable thing…’ was the position of Frank Lloyd Wright. By the way, you will notice that in the examples above, precedent is not merely copied but transferred and transmuted to suit the conditions faced by each architect.

Implied above is the habit of making annotated



Often, good tutors modified version of students’ ideas in order to clarify for themselves how much better the scheme could be. Seek them out. Unfortunately many teachers, good and bad, believe that a project review is not done unless there is blood on the floor. Sometimes one despairs as this is the worst way of educating for creativity and we are stuck with it. Remember that your teachers too were abused by critics when they were students and we do know that abused children grow up to be abusing parents, unless there is some psychological intervention at some stage. The most philosophical thing to do here is to reconcile yourself to the fact that severe public criticism is an occupational hazard of architects. Or more slightly positively, since architecture is a public art, one needs to prepare oneself for public


rebuke and oneself by being relaxed when presenting a project for scrutiny. All these render studying architecture an arduous business but there are compensations because it is a field that encapsulates what Donald Schon called

reflection in action2. Deborah Howard, the distinguished Professor of Fine Art at St. John’s College, Cambridge, once suggested that there should be a health warning attached to brochures on architectural education, as thinking out an idea and drawing them up takes hours. So try and look


after yourself as much as possible. well, make sure you get sufficient rest, relaxation and diversions. However enthusiastic you may be, there are better things to die for than architecture.







to rectify this.




Do what is necessary

A well-informed tutor will learn from students as he or she knows the young are always preoccupied with what is the latest, insisting on the need to make critical judgments about it and taking a position rather than


the trendy. Just to give an example here is something related to prevailing attitudes to the site for a project. Two conflicting views seem to be at the order of the day among the leading lights of architecture. For Rafael Moneo “without site, without a singular unique site architecture does not exist”4 whereas for Daniel Libeskind “in today’s landscape of anywhere” site is “nonexistent”5. A good tutor would encourage students to think for themselves and put forward a considered and well-argued position in relation to site rather than take sides in this polarised view.

Other examples of dichotomies bandied around by the profession on which an intelligent student will


be expected to take a position are continuity . rupture and the importance of place vs. the vitality of non-place and large-scale projects.

There is such a thing as the aesthetics of the plan. After all le Corbusier suggested that the plan is the generator. If he lived today he might as well have argued that the plan and sections are the generators. Even if you look at the plans of architects such as Geoffrey Bawa, who uses vernacular language for expression, the plans would be supremely elegant


in a contemporary way. The term includes site plan, and its resolution into a pleasant composition is also the architect’s task. The word gestalt, meaning that the whole is more than the sum of its parts, is very applicable here. Cultivate the habit of collecting what you think are well-resolved plans and sections for future reflection and inspiration.

Renzo Piano is reputed to have said that in architecture, by and large, the use of computers as design tools is rather like using


machines for singing. You think you are singing but you are not the machine is. It seems as if the coordination between hand and mind rather than computer and mind is that much more effective. Without appearing to be a dinosaur, one has to urge students to use computer drawings with care and consideration for sensitive design as opposed to a flashy one. Constantly ask yourself whether your project is simply drawn up as opposed to being thought out. Theory is not something esoteric. It is an aid to answering Louis Kahn’s famous question ‘what does


the building want to as opposed to what you want the building to be. Nothing irritates a good teacher of design more than a student saying, I want my building to be like this or that. Even worse is when he or she reinforces it by showing some pictures from a magazine or, more commonly, from the Phaidon Atlas of World Architecture. Quoting from a famous architect’s or a theoretician’s convoluted writing will not do either. You have the obligation to decipher the message of your favorite architect, internalise it and show how it has helped you produce an elegant solution. To conclude where we began, remember that you are an intelligent student. Otherwise you will not have been given a place in the University. So you can become an architect. You can become a good architect. The above are not recipes for success. Rather they are some pointers to where you should be going and how you can get there by simply being sensible.

1st year wynand viljoen - weekend retreat


kelvin gibbs & judith hugo - hut

theo gutter & johan kok - climate

raoul breetzke - order


tampa museum of art, tampa, florida by Stanley Saitowitz


useums began in ancient times as temples, dedicated to the muses, where the privileged went to be amused, to witness beauty, and to learn. After the Renaissance museums went public with palatial structures, where the idea of the gallery arose, a space to display paintings and sculpture. Later, museums became centers of education, researching, collecting, and actively provoking thought and the exchange of ideas. By presenting the highest achievements of culture, museums became a stabilising and regenerative force, crusading for quality and excellence. The role of the modern museum is both aesthetic and didactic, both Temple and Forum. The design of the contemporary museum can be characterised by two polar approaches. On the one hand are buildings which aim to be works of art in themselves, independent sculptural objects as signatures of their architects. On the opposite end of the spectrum are museums as containers, as beautiful jewel boxes, treasure chests whose sole purpose is to be filled with art, like the Tampa Museum. This museum is a neutral frame for the display of art, an empty canvass to be filled with paintings. It is a beautiful but blank container, a scaffold, to be completed by its contents. The architects are interested in openness, in unknown possibilities in the future, in architecture as infrastructure. They have created a compelling space in the most discreet way, avoiding the building as an independent sculptural object, and using space and light to produce form. A glass pedestal supports the jewelbox of art above. The building floats in the park, embracing it with its overhanging shelter and reflective walls. It is a hovering abstraction, gliding above the ground. The building is not only in the landscape, but is the landscape, reflecting the greenery, shimmering like the water, flickering like the clouds. It blurs and unifies, making the museum a park, the park a museum. The long building is sliced in the center. This cut divides the programs in two, the one public and open, the other support and closed. Each of the two sections is organised around a court, one the lobby, the other a courtyard surrounded by the offices and curatorial areas. The 40’ cantilever provides a huge public porch for the city, raising all the art programs above the flood plane. The walk along this porch, flanked by the park, focussed on the river, leads to the lobby. The procession through this quiet and levitating space is the preparation for viewing art. The lobby is at first horisontal, with entirely glass walls, two clear, two etched. The clear walls allow the site to run through the space, linking the Performing Art Building on the north with the turrets and domes of the University of Tampa

on the south. Above the glass, the perforated ceiling wraps from the exterior into vertical perforated walls that turn into an upper ceiling, perforated again by a series of skylights. The galleries are reached from the lobby below via a dramatic cinematic stair reaching up. Below the stair is a bed of river rock. Off the lobby is a long glass room that houses the café and bookstore in a storefront along the riverwalk. The architects have built the most expansive and generous field of galleries as instruments to enable, through curation, a world in which to expose art. They are arranged in a circuit, surrounding the vertical courtyard void. The galleries are blank, walls, floor and ceiling all shades of white, silent like the unifying presence of snow. The floors are ground white concrete with a saw-cut grid to echo the illuminated white fabric ceiling above. Linear gaps in the ceiling conceal sprinklers, air distribution and lighting. The second segment, around the open court, contains all the support for the museum. Offices surround the court on three sides. A bridge on the lower level is a secondary crossing from preparation to storage, a place for museum staff to be outside. The image of the museum results from the nature of its surface – it does not symbolise or describe. It disengages through neutral form, providing a kind of pit stop in its attempt to represent. It is a moment to savor things in themselves. By day the surfaces appear to vary almost, but never quite. They are smudged and stammering, with moray-like images of clouds or water or vegetation, a shimmering mirage of reflections. It is an expansive and illusive image of a museum about things we don’t quite know, about things we don’t quite see.

By day, light reflects on the surfaces. By night, light emanates from the surfaces. By night the exterior become a canvass for a show of light. The art from within bleeds out onto the walls and escapes into the darkness. By night it is the magical illumination of the skin changing colors and patterns in endless variations which turn the building inside out, revealing its secrets as it broadcasts light, color and form into the city, duplicated in its reflection in the water. This museum is both timeless and of our time, an electronic jewel box, floating on a glass pedestal, a billboard to the future, and a container to house works inspired with vision and able to show us other ways to see our world. The museum hovers in the park, a hyphen between ground and sky.

1st year theo gutter - grave


johanne kotze - interieur

jolandie henning - clarens


concordia cum veritate by Jako Olivier


Endnotes 1 Foucault, M. (1980) Questions on Geography in Power/ Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–77. Gordon, C. (ed.) New York, Pantheon :. 64. 2 Soergel, P.M. (ed.)r (2005) ARTS & HUMANITIES Through the Eras The Age of the Baroque and Enlightenment (1600– 1800. Detroit, Thomson Gale : 304. 3 Law, S. (2007) Philosophy. New York, DK Publishing : 43. 4 Baggini, J. (2002) Making Sence: Philosophy behind the headlines. New York, BCA : 19. 5 Wood, D. (2004) Territoriality and Identity at RAF Menwith Hill in Architectures: Modernism and After. Ballantyne, A. (ed.) Oxford, Blackwell Publishing Ltd : 146 6 Kearney, R. (ed.) (1994) TwentiethCentury Continental Philosophy. London, Routledge : 2. 7 hooks, b. (1990) Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics . Boston, South End Press :15 8 Kearney, R. (ed.) (1994) TwentiethCentury Continental Philosophy. London, Routledge : 7.

pplied concepts of space, like all other aspects of architecture, are persistently being borrowed and locally construed from our American and Continental contemporaries. Should we really wait for other theorists to make thoughts, spatial thought in particular, architecturefriendly before we import them? Architects tend to read architecture and, by accident, the knowledge that informed it. Instead of employing the architectural altered ideas validated in projects abroad and localising them, why don’t we identify local spatial realities and then source unadulterated reason from all fields, from everywhere and, if from Africa, so much the better? I propose we disregard the dead, fixed, undialectical, and immobile 1 spatial practices inherited from afar, and investigate through dialogue our own understanding of space from the knowledge systems that composed it. The tone of this exchange is friendly and respectful, not treading on the established layers of intellectual work or foundations laid. Man has always suffered from a dichotomy locked in the concept of knowledge: on the one hand man’s inability to fathom the truth and, its reciprocal half, trust, and on the other hand man’s deep desire to care about the absolute truth and value trust. Either as the receiving party or the issuing poor idiot, the truth is somehow not to be trusted most of the time. Man labours to fix these mutually exclusive parts - inability & desire - in one space and time as to deliver truth and trust tangible and able of attainment. This would render the dichotomy a fallacy. I put it to you however that it is this safe temporal space that has always been the real centre of the disputed fallacy. Utopia - the original erroneous space: It is during periods within which a very specific blend of government, religion, virtual peace or virtual angst, homogeneousness and idealism is mixed and boiled to just the right level of mediocrity that a comfortable artificial utopia is produced. Within the boundaries of this illusion, absolute truths are generally proclaimed and accepted. The acceptation of truth and trust in turn relies on: - the true revolutionist/traditionalist/reformist/purist certainty in the sum of the blend; or - a desperate tunnel-visionaries’ need to deem this blend indeed correct as this blend is all that is known or comfortable to know; or - extreme stupidity (note that ex post facto it is often concluded that the first two explanation relate closely to the last cause) Reality – the dasein (being there) fallacy: One may oppose the above given unreferenced explanation and affirm that in this age of Science there are definite unalterable, unarguable truths and that ours in no means constitutes a Utopian world. The difference between the ‘real’, experienced, believed or scientific truth and the Utopian truth entails disputing the vantage point from which we view any society. For instance:

concordia cum veritate (continued) apartheid; this proud institution was the result of not only a bunch of scared war-whacked white supremacists but also of sociology, anthropology, and economic principles. Disputing truths; e.g. 9/11, pro-life, Creationism, Kim Jong-il, hell, just think China. Structuralism would let you know that science simply substituted one sort of darkness with another. Science is a justification for racism, sexism, and an entire host of other kinds of exploitation, just like religion was before it.2 Nietzsche saw the idea of truth as a disguise for power, and rationality as an imposition of human distinctions on an irrational world.3 No more naively protected, regulated or persecuted by BigBrother and very much part of the larger world beyond the traditional constraints, we have become a country without the right ingredients for brewing a Utopia and harbouring a single truth system. Over the last two decades post-apartheid rainbow-disenchanted tribal-infused disenfranchised information-bombarded South Africans have became fullblown members of the postmodern decolonised world (a world more alive in spatial South Africa than in most other places). South Africa, as a whole and definitely in its previously privileged parts, has lost sight of a blend that could entertain absolute Truth and Trust. With no Star-spangled Banner pride or religion or language etc. we are confronted by competing truths. The problem here is not that we cannot tell whether an account is true.4 It is rather that there are numerous truths depending on the individual perspective and it is up to the individual to decide which to trust. Our academic understanding within the field of architecture of the South African spatial real has been addressed in two roughly typified truths: as the critical interpretation of the specific contained phenomena or as a postcolonial manifesto induced with social agendas. Both produce great architecture and relieve us from commercial monotony, but both tend to shift effortlessly from the real to the ideal without considering the marginal.

Archiculture by Guido Theron

Our eyes have been opened to the dichotomy of truth and trust, and our spatial surroundings are free from the illusion of the utopian dream. Given our psychological states and tangible environments of fear5, how then should architects read the South African spatial reality? Neither realism nor idealism can sufficiently supply us with a concrete answer. How should we define the space of a struggle for knowledge and of competing truths? The branch of philosophy which considers questions about truth and knowledge is known as epistemology: the theory of knowledge. In terms of current philosophical trends, from phenomenology to deconstruction, it is commonly expected that truth cannot be grounded in a given system of being (realism) or mind (idealism); it should be radically rethought as an interplay of differences (perspectives, Abschattungen, intentionalities, situations, structures, signifiers, etc.). 6 It is this shift in epistemology that could find its spatial paradigm in South Africa. It is within such an understanding of truth that Foucault proclaims his Heterotopia. Foucault explains that between real social and Utopian space lies heterotopia, a collective of material and conceptual social spaces that softly treads around the jurisdictions of normal social structures of power. hooks illuminates this ‘between space’ not as a temporary transitional zone, although changeable, but as a marginal space that becomes a permanent place of being. It was this marginality that I was naming as a central location for the production of a counter-hegemonic discourse that is found not just in words but in habits of being and the way one lives. As such, I was not speaking of a marginality one wishes to lose, to give up, but rather as a site one stays in, clings to even, because it nourishes one’s capacity to resist. It offers the possibility of radical perspectives from which to see and create, to imagine alternatives, new worlds.7

The first view is at risk of eliminating the real incidence of angst in South Africa in favour of a reluctant but inevitable romantic inspection of regional phenomena; this approach is critical of the emotional mapped space to such an extent that the interpreted and very specific local occurrences get lost in a commonplace generic first world view. On the other hand it exhausts ‘being’ to such extremities that reality loses all aspects of the magical realm.

Our collective South African self is skeptic of easy answers and expedient knowledge. In fact we avoided a bloody revolution (maybe to our own detriment) by forgiving the truth and punishing the lie - TRC. For South Africans truth is an analytical struggle. It was this struggle of knowledge that got man out of the mud banks in first place; it was initial mental spark that put civilisation’s pot aboil. It is inevitable that the next evolutionary leap in philosophy, architecture and such should again take place in South Africa.

The latter truth presents society itself in a perfected form, contributing to fundamentally unreal spaces. The architectgod, this time as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, determines what is best for society. The process entails real phenomena, empirical studies, interviews, etc. that is, however, often idealised. A trail of defenseless community centers and ownerless informal markets are left behind since, in the course of being socially conscious, a derogative generalisation of the African real is accidentally achieved – the need for advancements sacrificed for what the African space should ideally be – a colonised ubuntu.

In opposition to Hegel the telos of a South African architecture should not be to attain an identical truth but to explore particular moments between truths, the marginal space struggle per se. 8



t began on the 1st of October 2007 - the day of my interview. I wasn’t really running late, but an unexpected rainstorm had managed to spoil both my hair and portfolio and so I felt a little crazed. Looking destitute, but feeling confident and intent on success, I entered the building. Idiotically, I walked straight through the main corridor, missing reception, and eventually bumped into Zelda. Luckily she pointed me in the right direction, and I was hugely relieved. As I sat down in front of Prof. Jan Smit’s office, a gaudy gang of students in the doorway started chanting “KEURING KEURING, ONS SOEK KEURING. . . !” And so my life was changed. . . While studying for English during my final matric exams, I received a phone call from Prof. Jan Smit, informing me that I had passed selection. I would be studying architecture the following year, but considering the fact that I was then harbouring intense hatred of all academic institutions, this did not really impress me. In the end all went well, and as the new year began, I was looking forward to post-matric life. My first year as architecture student brought about many changes, and most of my preconceptions were seriously challenged. Here follows some of my findings: pants aren’t necessarily there to cover one’s arse; starting assignments or projects at two in the morning isn’t abnormal; to study medicine is a joke, and to hear little birds chirping happily in the early morning is definitely not. I also learnt that Rotring pens are produced by Lucifer Inc. and that the word ‘sleep’ is not commonly understood by the people in the building. Although it must also be mentioned that never in my life have I come across a group of people who party at such random times and places, while at the same time seriously mourning their lack of sleep due to work overload by their unfair superiors. In short, life had suddenly become hugely interesting and very colourful, but given that most people in the department have a nursing love of gray, this might seem like a contradiction. . . Another subject that certainly deserves discussion is that of our dearest friend, the computer - for I’m sure that nowhere else in the world will you find people who have more mixed feelings regarding their PC’s than architecture students. Most of the time, PC’s are the sole reason why large numbers of students have regular manic tendencies and end up behaving like complete loons. In truth, most of us are genuinely preoccupied with sweet, rotten vengeance on the horrible things, but unfortunately they cost thousands and we cannot operate without them. Basically, most of us work far too hard for university students, we absorb the merciless critique of others all year round, and we barely manage a social life. Our equipment probably has a vendetta against us and the rest of campus have a habit of giving us shifty glances, but luckily it’s all worthwhile: the roller-coaster lifestyle of this archiculture goes beyond what I anticipated for post-matric life.

2nd year marcel swanepoel - pazzi proportions


anien nauta - exstrapolaton


architecture writ small We are confronted daily with critiques of architecture from theorists drawn from other disciplines. Architectural students are taught to map and map and map again for what seems to be no obvious purpose.

by Prof Jo Noero


he poor qualities of our cities are blamed on architecture – we are told to work hard at transforming our cities because they were shaped by apartheid and modern planning dictates – nothing is good enough because not much seems to have changed. The idea that architecture cannot change society seems now faintly old fashioned. The idea that political action is best acted out through the exercise of citizenship and not through architecture is not acceptable to many. History has suffered – we no longer place great value on the study of architectural history, it is viewed in some quarters as the colonizer’s history – the fact that we haven’t yet theorised any other histories has meant that we have abandoned the one architectural history that we know. The idea that in architecture purpose and form are fused together in ways that are not found in any of the other arts doesn’t seem to hold much interest to current practitioners and teachers. That architecture should aim to satisfy social purpose through the medium of form and space is somehow not good enough – it needs to transform social and power relations in society to be useful. Notions of fitness of purpose don’t belong in the language of the contemporary architect. Digital technology has removed the human hand from the process of thinking through drawing – buildings no longer have a sense of purposeful scale – digital technology has removed scale as a measure in architecture. The buildings of contemporary star-architects could be built at almost any scale and noone would know the difference. I offer a small project which I have recently completed as an antidote to what I see as wrong in current architectural production – not that the work is exemplary in any way but rather to demonstrate a working model of how to connect architecture to those issues that have been neglected in contemporary architecture. These issues revolve around history and its uses, purposeful form, the relationship between materiality, form and appearance and finally the value of drawing as both representation and part of the process of design. St Cyprians Girls School in Oranjezicht in Cape Town commissioned Noero Wolff Architects to design and build new spaces for a library/knowledge hub, a computer center, a new hall and classrooms extensions. At the outset it was agreed that we would re-use existing spaces where possible and locate all new buildings within existing spaces or courtyards – this was done to densify activities which was considered desirable. 001

The Knowledge Hub – the existing gym was converted

into the new library – an adjoining courtyard was roofed over with translucent material and designed as an antechamber to the library through which students would move on their way to and from classes. The old gym’s fabric was retained, a new mezzanine floor was added and new uses were signified by specially designed pieces of oversized timber furniture. Three circular timber hubs each four meters high were placed alongside the longitudinal axis of the court.

004 The shape of these spaces is similar to the side chapels made by Francesco Borromini in the Church of St Ivo in Rome. The forms themselves are generated by elemental geometries which draw from the techniques of geometrical drawing employed in making and shaping buildings for centuries. 005 The architecture was conceived as a set of spaces made by large pieces of furniture designed to encourage students to use them in any way they saw fit - similar to the ways in which people use public spaces in our cities. Interestingly young children from six to ten years old use these spaces more creatively and easily than older kids or adults which suggests that the process of learning about social space closes down interpretation as we get older. 004













The Computer Center is placed in the Tortoise Courtyard and is conceived as similar to the Tempietto of San Pietro in Rome by Donato Bramante. The circular form allows the building to spin in the courtyard space. 007 The exterior of the two story building is covered with glass mosaics which reflect the sky and surrounding buildings. 008 The plan was generated by the desire for the teacher to have visual contact with all 25 computer screens simulataneously. 009 In these ways a deliberate convergence between purpose, form and site was sought. Primary School Classroom Extensions - initially it was proposed to demolish and rebuild the classroom block. We argued against this approach for historical and other reasons. As a result the existing classrooms were retained and the extensions were woven in-between a group of trees on the east side of the building.010 To support the idea of the weave the wall was constructed of bagged brickwork making the brick coursing visible through the painted surface. A fit between appearance, material use and design intention was achieved. Windows were made as irregular but intense thin vertical cuts in the façade - the rhythm of the windows echoes the vertical rhythm of the trees between which the bagged wall moves. 011 New Hall

- the sports hall and senior common room is placed at the top end of the site with Table Mountain as the backdrop. The hall is placed in the same kind of relationship with the mountain as UCT’s Jamieson Hall. We were aware that the original UCT architect, Solomons, was distraught at the university’s decision to overturn his recommendation to build a dome on Jamieson Hall. We decided to honor Solomons by using a thin curved brick vault for the roof of the hall. The lazy curve of the hall sits easily against the strength of the mountain behind. 012 We hope that in this small way we have honored the memory of a fine architect who died prematurely. In summary, these tiny projects show that there is a place for history in contemporary architectural design and discourse and that despite changes in technology many of the issues that architects faced in the past are not dissimilar to the issues that we face today.

2nd year rino balsamo - info box


daneel brink - oliewenhuis pavilion



The Republic is a dialogue that was written by Plato around 380 B.C.E.. By the time it was written architecture had already established itself as a noble profession, and testament to this fact lay in the marvelous architectural achievements that came even before the 4th century B.C.E., some still in existence, some not. In it Plato states that the best form of government is that of the ‘Philosopher King’.

chappie architecture

by John du Preez


think he essentially meant that the best form of government is one that is ruled by someone who has knowledge in his search of truth, and has complete rule in his quest for that truth. The same idea applies to the architect. The ideal form of our profession is someone who has supreme knowledge in his field, a master builder, and applies that knowledge holistically, to the environment, the context, the client, and the construction of one project. The idea of the architect is a person who sees the bigger picture, all facets of the challenge, to find a solution that addresses a problem on all levels. That is what we do, or at least what we are supposed to be doing. The architect should understand where we are in history, the emotional wellbeing of our society, and should be able to reflect this in our buildings, a window to the soul of a country. This has always been the case through history; we can see it with the Egyptians, their religious beliefs melding with their power politics to result in the pyramids. We see it with the Greeks and Romans, their polytheism and cultural ideas of sexuality leading to evident masculinity or femininity engrained within their architectural orders, we even see it within medieval Europe, with fantastic cathedrals showing not only the politics of the time and the dominance of the church, but even the consciousness of the church throughout its early history. Through architecture we can see, in clear view, the stance of the church at any given time in history. This is what architecture is, and the reason we have these buildings throughout the world is because the architect was always the person who saw the bigger picture, understood the cultural climate, and had the knowledge, and authority, to construct challenging and innovative representations of the time and place within the built environment. Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, this ideal is lost. We scamper over revision after revision of modernism until we lose the plot completely. We create individual buildings that do little more than give people entertainment in their justification of their existence, while historical and cultural significance becomes a ‘post-it’ that we consider after the fact. The contemporary architect has lost his role to economics and corrupt committees, and without a doubt in my mind, this reflects in contemporary architecture. We are showing something in our architecture, we are showing that we have lost direction. We are showing that the ‘wow factor’ of a Gehry building or Hadid building sells, and the superficial depth of these buildings is all that architecture has become, while those who still care can do little except sit in rooms and try to associate these buildings with, you guessed it, modernism, the last playing card we have in the justification of our art. The architect has lost control of his field. I believe the answer must lie in a single word: accountability. I am certain we live in a world that is far removed from the romantic notion of what architects actually do. The reason we find mostly inferior buildings being built in our times is because of our fear of accountability for them. Long gone are the days of Imhotep and the architect’s challenge of doing the impossible. Long gone are the days of Gropius and the architect’s knowledge of the entire process that he or she is involved in. It is because of this accountability that we are a dying profession, slowly falling into the realm of redundancy. Architecture has always been an indicator of the state of things around it, and it reflects the way that we as architects think and feel. We live in a time when,

literally, a lecturer has told us that “we study building science so that we can communicate better with the engineers and builders who are going to tackle the project.” We live in a time when we have a range of courses in law that are specifically catered to protect us and our accountability in case of error. A medical doctor studies for five years and practices for two before becoming a professional, exactly the same duration as architects. After they are done they have the ability to save lives, that is what they can manage to achieve in seven years. We could achieve equivalent feats, but that opportunity is being lost to us. What is a structural engineer if not an extension of what we’re supposed to be able to do ourselves? Or a quantity surveyor, or large-project manager? These are all professions that are eating away at what we are supposed to be. Architects should be fully accountable for all aspects of a building’s design, and should get the blame when something fails. If that were the case I believe the occurrence of something going wrong would be minimal in any case. I believe this is one of those points that many think about but few ever mention. To tell someone that they have studied and worked so hard to become something that is becoming more redundant every day is a scary thing to face up to, but perhaps a reality check is required before positive outcomes can be achieved. One need only sit and listen to a special lecture on the government’s ideas on how to measure sustainability within future architecture, and their software approach of punching in the numbers and getting a result to see the nervousness come out. Architects fear this move as yet another step towards total redundancy. But why? Computers can’t make meaningful space? Well, it seems neither can architects. In a tragic case of ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ we find that the vision of any architect working today never makes it out at least mortally wounded. Our open space ends up with a row of columns in the middle, and our selection of paint color is replaced by an off-apricot color because it is R1.50 cheaper per litre. That is the world we live in today. All the while getting five or six people to sign the forms instead of ourselves, so that we can assure ourselves of safety in the case of blame. We as architects are not living up to what we can be, and that reflects in our architecture. I mention this opinion because I feel it is very relevant to the future of our profession. I mention it because I think the first steps towards a positive outcome begins with the realisation of a problem, and yes, I believe that within my professional career as an architect I will be part of a renaissance of architecture. There will come a time when theory, the ability of an architect to see social context, plays an important role in our designs yet again. Once we accept our accountability as ‘master builders’ we will be heading in the right direction. I think starting architecture students off with brick-laying and cement mixing, and ending them off with bills of quantities and electrical wiring, and everything in-between, is the solution to many of the problems we as architects face today. I hope to see this ‘Bauhaus Revolution’ while I am practicing, and I believe I will. In my comparison I found the idea scary that we have moved from the ideals of architecture to the architecture of rands and cents in such a short time. One day I hope to contribute towards changing that trend, and move our profession back into the ideals and pursuit of perfection that our predecessors have been seeking for so many years before us.

by Jakobus Kriel


It is generally accepted that the first architect was a man whose name was Imhotep. He lived in ancient Egypt around 2650 - 2600v.C.

3 4 5

I The modernist John Hancock Tower in Boston is notorious for its engineering errors, which causes its large glass windows to spontaneously crack and fall out. A certain superstitious woman advised Mr. Hancock to immediately sell the building, as each one of the broken mirrorglass windows will bring him 7 years of bad luck. So far, 20 000 years in total!

The oldest existing building in South Africa is the Castle in Cape Town. It’s five bastions were named after the main titles of William III of Orange Nassau: Leerdam to the west, with respectively Buuren, Katzenellenbogen, Nassau and Oranje clockwise from it.

The 7 wonders of the ancient world, as compiled by Callimachus (305-240 BC) and Herodotus (484-425 BC) are: The Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.


The classical Corinthian column, according to Vitruvius, symbolises the proportions of a young girl. The leaf decorations on the capital are those of the Acanthus plant.

It takes the average person between 15 and 20 minutes to walk around the Pentagon in Washington, DC. The building has an area of about 603864m2 and has about 28 km of hallways.


The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek god Helios. Before it was destroyed in an earthquake in 226 BC it was about 30m high, which made it and one of the largest statues of the ancient world.

2nd year nico van huyssteen - library


dorethe zaayman - westdene housing


ernst & young head office, windhoek

by Dr J Wasserfall


s a building that represents an innovative, unconventional, and rather exceptional company, the new Namibian head office for Ernst & Young Chartered Accountants has been conceived to give expression to these qualities in a manner that challenges traditional relationships between culture, environment, structure and space, while accommodating the organisation’s progressive working methods. Every effort was made to avoid a stereotypical office solution and to resolve the brief in such a way as to announce the EY identity within the Windhoek urban environment with aplomb and eloquence. Hemmed in by streets on three sides and sloping down to a small watercourse, the site for the new head office is located in a decentralised commercial node in the suburb of Klein Windhoek and surrounded by hills and low-density residential development. Views onto the site from these surroundings dictated a sensitive approach to form giving, scale, site planning, and the use of materials. Transparency and legibility were key design considerations from the outset: a strong circulation axis leads the visitor along a shaded entrance walkway to a reception area where glimpses of the building interior are introduced. This walkway also serves as a visual barrier separating the lowerlying staff parking area from the generous open space embracing the public face of the building. Once inside the building, the visitor is exposed to its entire workings. A clear hierarchy of space from public to private is maintained without introducing physical barriers: the prominent circulation axis terminates in a system of ramps intersecting the double-volume drum that forms the heart the complex. The distinctive company ethos of Ernst & Young is echoed in the design of both the building’s spatial and office environment through: • the prioritisation of a ‘People First’ philosophy: an unusually large proportion of floor area is dedicated to non-work, staff-related functions ( 28% of the total floor area) • the down-play of corporate hierarchy: a deliberate absence of cellular office space unless needed for visual and/or acoustic privacy – partners are seated within the open office configuration, with the cellular offices a series of meeting and quiet rooms on the east side of each office floor • the concept of generic seating: an open-plan office arrangement with a generic, non-dedicated seating configuration – a first-come-first-served principle applies, and at day’s end personal belongings are locked away in lockers

The new head office complex is the architectural manifestation of these unique Ernst & Young dynamics, set firmly within a Namibian context. Namibian vernacular architecture served as an abstract for the new building at the request of the client. This found expression not only in a spatial organisation that emulates the traditional Ambo homestead with its all important ‘olupale’, a centralised circular meeting space, but also in the juxtaposing of old and new, both in the making of form and use of materials. For example, the central drum with its conical shape, whilst reminiscent of traditional shelter, is truncated in a contemporary fashion, while the rigidity of the rectangular office blocks is contrasted with the organic forms of the drum and the curved stone wall. The combination of organic and manufactured surfaces (stone and water versus steel, concrete, and porcelain) and the alternations between opacity and transparency create a dynamic visual and sensory experience. In addition to corporate identity and context, other design parameters include the shape and pronounced slope of the site, access, climatic concerns orientation, and security. The truncated cone has a double-skinned ventilated structure that helps to reduce heat gain: the use of Rheinzink as cladding is a first for Namibia – it is pure zinc, long lasting and maintenance-free, and meets the most stringent ecological requirements. The decorations within the building interior serve to reinforce a Namibian flavour and references. Twenty-eight light pendants are suspended from the roof of the central drum symbolising the twenty-eight living languages listed for Namibia, and local artist Francois de Necker was commissioned to create a wall-mounted mobile of recycled materials depicting various cultural and economic symbols of Namibia. Building Statistics: Floor area: Approx 1800 m² Construction period: August 2007 – July 2008 Cost: N$ 18 mill Design team: Jaco Wasserfall Architects: Dr Jaco Wasserfall Blokker, Kuschke & Jacobs Quantity Surveyors: Mr Hermann Kuschke Bührmann & Partners Civil/Structural Engineers: Mr Sigi Teetz GS Fainsinger Electrical/Mechanical Engineers:Mr Schalk Louw Construction team: Main Contractor: Namibia Construction Cladding Sub-contractor: Busler Roof Systems Air-conditioning Sub-contractor: MR Repairs Electrical Subcontractor: Escon Data Installation: Generic Electronic Solutions Photographs: Studio One: Mr Markus Weiss

2nd year handre de la rey - library


daneel brink - chapel


department of architecture, mini conference - company profile: Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners

department of architecture, mini conference - company profile: arup



ogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners (RSHP), an international architectural practice based in London, has, over three decades, attracted critical acclaim and won dozens of awards including the Stirling Prize 2009 for Maggies Centre, London.

rup, known for its close and exceptionally productive collaborations with leading and avant-garde architects, is an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists offering a broad range of professional services with a core mission of shaping a better world.

Central to the philosophy of the practice, is a commitment to the creation of public spaces that enliven and rejuvenate inner-city areas. The Pompidou Centre in Paris, with over half the site allocated to a public piazza, is an outstanding example of the positive impact of urban regeneration.

With an ardent drive to discover new ways to turn ideas into tangible reality, the firm relentlessly pursues technical excellence and willingness to invest in research and innovation, and as a result, many of the world’s iconic architectural, engineering, infrastructure and planning projects are realised, much to the delight of clients, collaborators and the wider world.

In an age when concern for the global environment is one of the most hotly-debated topics, RSHP takes its obligation to address growing concerns regarding sustainability seriously. The practice has undertaken exhaustive research into a responsible approach to energy consumption and applies the results of this research to every scheme.

Arup’s approach focuses on flexibility in facilities, design and processes that allows clients worldwide to operate more profitably and sustainably. The firm’s commitment to sustainability informs the firm’s approach and is at the heart of every project. Shaping a sustainable future – particularly through the urban environment – is one of the greatest challenges in the 21st century and this is a challenge Arup is embarking on fervently.

The practice is currently participating in the Greater Paris project, which looks at the future of the city as a more integrated metropolitan region as it faces the social and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

The firm is acutely aware of the responsibility it has in designing and influencing the built environment, to do the best possible work for current and future generations.

Compiled by Khoatsana Sempe

Compiled by Khoatsana Sempe



3rd year nicola botes - office block


ian richard cox - house for the diasabled


can installation art be architecture?

by Wynand Viljoen & Van Wyk Oosthuysen


an installation art be architecture? What is installation art? Is it really art? These are among the questions that drive our often-criticized extra curricular activities. With one foot still in the conceptual blur that was first year, our passion for this art raged a new height as we investigated iconic structures within the curriculum of our second year. The boundaries between Architecture and Installation Art seemed so close but never truly met in harmony. Theo Jansen is famous for saying that

“...boundaries exist only in our minds”,

and this theory proved more and more true as we explored this art form. It had seemed our ideas would remain paper architecture along with the many others that dare to dream, but our answer would come closer to home than we ever thought. Our generous and supportive department needed something for our exhibition at the University Open Day on 1 May 2010. We designed a structure that spoke true to its architectural roots taking into account that it had to be rapidly deployed and should be of a reasonable price (where are the Quantity Surveyors when we need them?). Furthermore we had to make sure that our art would not negatively influence the art currently on the sides of the Agriculture building, where our information stall was set up. Thus the genesis project grew to life. It communicates to the current artwork without overwhelming it. The artwork on the wall is of antelopes in the wild. Our installation communicates with it through the dynamic form and also continues the direction of movement portrayed by the artwork on the wall.

The intersecting battens also repeats the crossing of the legs of the running antelopes, but the most important part of this art piece is the fact that of all the antelopes, only one of them has a foot touching the ground plane, and that was the exact place where our structure touches the wall. Of all the battens on the structure (a total of 150m) only one batten touched the wall. We really wanted this interaction to be as subtle as possible to respect the artwork, as our lecturer Mr. Henry Pretorius would say - “Its better to build nothing, than to scar a context with a building.” Today the structure is on the grass at the Architecture Building coming to a graceful end after being carried in Chinese new year fashion across campus, again sparking curiosity. And it will stay there untill an unknown benefactor comes along to help us with our next project.

thinking, making by Sean Godsell

O 1

Watch this space for our next piece of art. References 1. S.Godsell (1966), 2. D.Godsell (1963), Kennedy House, Glen Waverley, Victoria, Australia, 3. D.Godsell (195060), Godsell House, Beaumaris, Victoria, Australia, 4. M.Botta (197576) Single Family House in Ligornetto, (Photograph: Alo Zanetta 5. A.Aalto (1949-51), Saynatsalo Town Hall, Saynatsalo, Finland, Photograph: Sean Godsell (2006) 6. A.Aalto (1952-53) Experimental house, Muuratsalo, Jyvaskyla, Saynatsalo, Finland, Photograph: www. Alvar Aalto Foundation 7. A.Aalto “The Reconstruction of Europe Reveals the Central Architectural Problem of Our Time,” in Aalto, “Rationalism and Man”, quoted in Ruusuvuori and Pallasmaa, Alvar Aalto, pp.119

ne of my earliest childhood memories was sitting on my father’s knee while he drew. His drafting tools – set square, clutch pencil, T square and compass set were all intriguing to me. Empty packets of leads, broken slide rulers and damaged set squares all became my equipment so that I could make my own drawings on the floor of the drawing office. Best of all though were site visits where, if I was lucky, I would be asked by a carpenter to hold out my hands while he reached into his nail bag and gave me a fist full of shiny new nails or told by a builder that I was allowed to pick up as many off cuts of framing timber as I liked. Armed with these materials I would return home and proceed to make things. By the time I was six years old I knew that I wanted to be an Architect because drawing and building was so much fun. 1 When I look at my father’s working drawings2 today I am impressed by their strength and confidence. His detailing was capable and inventive. His drawings reflected his ability to represent his philosophical standpoint through the individuality of his details. As children he and my mother encouraged my siblings and I to make things. We constructed a world of tree houses, billy carts, forts and playing fields. In summer we rolled a cricket pitch with an old tree stump and in winter we marked out the lines of our football field with flour stolen from the pantry. All of this happened within the context of a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright inspired house3 which was forever being finished and I was apprentice to my father the bricklayer, the carpenter, the cabinetmaker. When I started studying architecture I remember he said to me “how can you, as an Architect, criticise the workmanship of a bricklayer if you’ve never even attempted to lay bricks? How dare you admonish the effort of a man digging a hole if you don’t know hard it is to spend a day digging?” He organised laboring jobs on building sites for me when I was a student and it was there that I gained an appreciation for the toil of building. Regardless of the seductiveness of some computer programmes, the medium of architecture is (and always has been) building. As architects we express ourselves best through the constructed representation of our ideas. Our choices of materials, structural systems, form and so on are driven by our need to represent our ideas in built form so that they are clear for all to see and interpret. The labour of drawing is the first physical moment in the making of architecture; the labour of building the final act. Both are equally noble. In 1985 during my ‘grand tour’, I went to the Ticino region of Switzerland to see Mario Botta’s work. Later the same year I went to an exhibition of his drawings and models in Venice. Each detailed drawing was exquisite – the sections through the series of concrete masonry houses he produced over a decade were so comprehensive and their clarity was directly recognisable in the buildings. The wooden models were equally beautiful, as were the houses themselves - each constructed with the same care

that the drawings and models demonstrated4. In Finland I was able to see, this time through more mature eyes, the evolution of the detail in Aalto’s work from the Villa Mairea to the Saynatsalo Town Hall5 and my favourite Aalto building – the Experimental House.6 There is inventiveness in Aalto’s detail spawned by Finland’s remoteness and climate and nurtured in a 1000 year tradition of carpentry. Each building is ‘bespoke’, detailed to express the architect’s likes and desires and crafted to achieve ongoing refinement rather than static standardisation. All were constructed within the context of an industrialised ethos. “In architecture the role of standardisation is thus not to arrive at a type, but on the contrary to create viable variety and richness which in an ideal situation is comparable to nature’s infinite capacity of nuance.” 7 The current homogenisation of critical building elements, caused to some extent by globalisation, threatens to irrevocably decay this position. Today I can buy the same extruded aluminium window frame, the same cladding, the same hardware anywhere in the world and for that matter draw the same looking drawings as everyone else using the same software packages. Artistic expression in architecture has largely given way to expediency. Many Architects no longer detail windows, rather they shop for them by looking through catalogues and in doing so eliminate any possibility for anything other than the most superficial expression of individuality. Spending an hour picking a window system from a brochure is hardly the height of creativity. At best it marginalises the Architect to the selector of colours and shapes. There is a growing resistance to this situation. Ironically it exists in the sketch, the hand-drawn detail, the invented solution, the artisan, their apprentice and the Architect as maker once more, rather than computer programme operator.

Aalto summed it up most succinctly: “Me?...I build.”






3rd year erick ouko & kat tlholoe - des baker


jurie swart - batho jazz club


Book review: the hand of the architect, alterstudio partners by Carmen Dickens


have postponed buying my moleskine diary this year; consequently investing in a book reminiscent of the format with a lot of creative inspiration already on the pages.

The black cover with the alluring title ‘la mano dell’architetto / the hand of the architect’ seemed out of place among the colourful architecture books on the shelf; thus belying the vivid images on the inside. And indeed paging through it is like having an inquisitive peek into the personal diaries of world-renowned architects. Even they have a tactile approach to jotting down the sometimes evasive concept. The book has four main headings. ‘Writings’ is concise in bringing across the fact that even the Italians need to be inventive to protect and re-use their built national heritage (the publication is part of funding a restoration project in Milan). Here they thread together the raison d’etre of the book. The skill of channeling ideas onto paper are compiled in the main body ‘drawings and sketches’. Media range from

crayons, pencils, pastels and pens, from expressive and colourful lines to perfect perspectives (in ‘writings’ it is vividly described how the numerous concepts were scribbled down on pieces of paper – few times while the contributors were at their desks). These images illustrate the visual power of the concept sketch to portray the built solution – sometimes more so than photographs do of parts of a completed building. It is also safe on paper while it might not get built – hence the existence of paper architecture.

Architecture and being the new sponges

by Pieter Kühn


rom the heading you may have realised, we’re the first year students. We came here relatively normal, well sort of, now we have become Insomniatic, cleverly unintelligent sponges. Soaking up every drop of information given to us by our many lectors from day to day.

The narrow columns of ‘biographies’ are sympathetic towards the information overloaded eye. Here the page’s numeric referencing of the drawing with information of each contributing architect, updated to 2006, is quick and easy to use.

After four months of this, we’re all feeling a bit full and overflowing, but the beauty of our situation is that we’re all able to squeeze out some of our contents onto our projects with relative success. In doing so, we are all gradually becoming better than we were after the previous projects. Now with us using the metaphorical fluids, we’re making ourselves empty again, making room for even more information to grace the threshold of our very impressionable minds. This to us is the beauty in pursuing such a complex and wonderful career.

The 5 “author’s biographies” concludes the publication that speaks volumes of these people’s dedication to a multitude of artistic fields, leaving the reader persuaded that passion renders labour effortless. The idea on paper is the generator, though!

So you may ask yourself; ‘’isn’t life grand, when after a whole day of going to class the only break you get is when you take a bath, and eat dinner?’’ We say yes,because we knew what we were getting into and this isn’t to be taken lightly. We are different I guess, this isn’t simply what we’re studying,

this is our life. Why architecture?

by Chantal De Jager

W Illustrations 1. Bellini Milano. Cultural Centre. Turin. 2007. Coloured pastels, plotter & putty rubber on paper. 2. Bolles+Wilson Münster. Kaldewei Kompetenz Centre, Ahlen. 2005. Watercolour & Indian ink on paper. 3. Cibic Milan. ‘View with a room’. Abitare il tempo, Verona. 2007. Watercolour on paper. 4. Fuksas Rome. Sports Complex, Paliano. 1977. Mixed media.



hile having a conversation with a friend who studies medicine about which course on campus is the most grueling and why, the obvious topics were and will always be according to her, architecture, medicine and the poor accounting students, she asks me the question I have heard countless times. Why did you choose to study architecture? As a third year student how am I supposed to know the answer to that question? I mean even the accounting students have an answer. In spite of the fact that according to most architecture students we never sleep, have too many assignments, and a limited social circle or have a healthy diet (which no student has anyway) we are still here. We are all still fiddling endlessly with concepts and ideas and stressing over external examiners. In my three and a half years at the department I can finally say with certainty that no other course would accept my chronic boredom with open arms and satisfy it, that we have to live architecture, it



is not a course,

it is a lifestyle.

3rd year victor salzmann - hotel


pieter mocke - student lounge


Design thinking: shaping mind skills for design resolution


esign thinking is one of several disciplines that is forming in-between other more established disciplines, also referred to as liberal arts. The rise of these inter-disciplinary specialisations became necessary, because the information in the established fields were becoming impossible to access. Therefore design thinking is not only focused on how designers in the traditional design disciplines think, but designers across all the different specialisation fields. A design product can be anything from a physical commodity like an artifact or a building, a theory or synthesis, tools for investigation and research, a service, etc.

References 1. Merritt, J. & Lavelle, L. 2005. Tomorrow’s B-School? It Might Be A D-School. Website. http://www. magazine/content/05_ 31/b3945418.htm. 11 May 2010. 2. (Breen, Bill. Design Thursday: Roger Martin on “The Opposable Mind”. Website. http:// www.fastcompany. com/blog/bill-breen/ design-thursday-rogermartin-opposablemind. 11 May 2010 3. Ruyssenaars, B(2008) European business design 1. Amsterdam: BIS Publishers:8). 4. (Martin, R. Endnote: The Design of Business. Australian Financial Review (May 2005)

3 year rd

by Rudolf Bitzer

Finding Harmony between People, Buildings and Nature by Peggy Greyling


this is good news for all designers. Rapidly growing businesses is three times more likely than the rest to consider design crucial to success. They will also, on average, increase their market share by 6.3% through using design (Ruyssenaars, 2008:8).

o contemporary buildings stimulate, excite and intrigue us as the inhabitants, visitors and passers by? Do we experience the same heretical thrill as we do when entering a Gothic cathedral? As architects, we have come to depend solely on theories of our successful predecessors, sometimes forgetting that the goal of design is not only to find the correct proportions, but to express life, to be lively, interesting and mysterious. To find once again the relationship between contrast, tension and balance. To trust in our own abilities and get excited about what we do. According to Kenneth Frampton we have been consumed by consumerism; we produce to consume and the magic of creating is lost and with it the harmony in ourselves and between body, mind, nature and building. Ancient people believed that in order to be healthy, one’s mind and body had to be in healthy balance. For the inhabitants to be truly healthy and happy, we as architects must therefore create that balance within our designs. Even though many principles exist within the theoretical basis of design, we must inherently aim to create more sensitive buildings which respond to global needs of sustainability. This does not only refer to the issues of the ‘green’ capital outlay of a building, but also to the sustained ecological, economical and social wellbeing of a building and its inhabitants. In becoming sensitive to the ecological, technological and tectonic dimensions of a building, we can create architectural spaces that respond to the needs of the inhabitants, both on a physical and metaphysical level, thereby allowing them to ‘dwell poetically’ as stated by Heidegger. Finding harmony between people, buildings and nature must therefore become one of the main aims in defining twenty first century architecture.

But why is design suddenly hot news for business? Technology is advancing

at such a rate that products needs to be improved continuously. New technologies bring new possibilities, making older products less in demand, simply because newer products satisfy more needs. As much as the new economy is about products and artifacts, the economy But what is design thinking really? Currently there is a lot of is also dematerialising and a shift from ‘things’ to ‘ideas’ is confusion whether one is dealing with design process, design taking place. Clients don’t just buy a product for what it looks methodology or actual design thinking? Articles and even books use these terms interchangeably, when as a matter like and how it functions, but also for the ideas behind it and whether it promotes a cause that they believe in. The world of fact, they are not! Design thinking is concerned with the is changing fast and the challenges businesses are facing thinking that leads to design (a product) and how we think today are different to those of five years ago (Ruyssenaars, when we design. It is dealing with mind strategy when one is 2008:8). It is this rapid change that is causing the interest in involved with the process of design. As designers we weigh how designers think. Roger Martin found that there is a great different possibilities, we see constraints as opportunities and similarity in how designers and entrepreneurs look at the in many cases are busy resolving an ill-defined problem with world. In a recent interview in Toronto, Martin asserted that the belief that a good solution is available. It is this quality of real value creation now comes from using the designer’s designers that practitioners of other disciplines are pursuing. foremost competitive weapon, his imagination, to peer Design thinking is creating quite a stir in more places than just into a mystery -- a problem that we recognise but don’t fields of design these days. It is especially from the field of understand -- and to devise rough solution thatbut explains weapon, to peer intothinking. a mystery -- a problem that awe recognize business that his a lotimagination, of writing is being done on design it (Martin, 2005). References and suggestions of to changing don't understand -- and devisethea traditional rough solution that explains it (Martin, 2005). How does this knowledge affect students in a design B-Schools to D-schools (B for business and D for design) environment? It is important for designers to know that become morethis commonplace (Merritt, Lavelle:students 2005). Roger How does knowledge affect in athey design environment? It is are trained to have skills that areimportant in demand infor many Martin, who studied competition in a business environment disciplines. At the end of the day a designer will still function designers to know that they are trained to have skills that are in demand in many extensively throughout his career, believes that companies as a designer, whatever the field that he or she works in. will continue to At prosper if they the higher ground will disciplines. theonly end of push thetoday designers still function as a designer, whatever the Know that design can have a great impact on the success of innovating and creating “elegant, refined products and field that he or she works in. Know that designofcan have great impact on theofsuccess a business andaunderstand that the end-user a product services”. He believes that the upshot from this strategy nowadays is buying more than merely a product. Everything of a business and understand that the end-user of a product nowadays is buying more and need is the emergence of the design economy-- the the manufacturer produces need to tie into a bigger idea of successor to the information economy, and, before it, the than merely a product. Everything the manufacturer produces need to tie into a bigger which the products become promotional vessels for. service and manufacturing economies (Breen: 2007). Now

idea of which the products become promotional vessels for.

Images 1. British Museum, London 2. Jewish Museum, Berlin 3. Bridge house, Cape 4. Chiswick Park (Office Park) – London

Merritt, J. & Lavelle, L. 2005. Tomorrow's B-School? It Might Be A D-School. Website. 11 May 2010.





4th year

alicia du plessis - square, bloemspruit

(Breen, Bill. Design Thursday: Roger Martin on "The Opposable Mind". Website. http:// 11 May 2010 Ruyssenaars, B(2008) European business design 1. Amsterdam: BIS Publishers:8).

(Martin, R. Endnote: The Design of Business. Australian Financial Review (May 2005)


pierre de lange - heritage


slaggate en risiko’s in boukontrakte deur Prof. JJP Verster

Eise, verskille en geskille is algemeen in die boubedryf, maar vyf slaggate staan uit.


Ervare persone sal bevestig dat van die grootste risikos by projekontwikkeling vertragings en verlenging van tyd is. Die bouheer is onder druk van huurkontrakte, renteverpligtinge; die tyd wat bouwerk neem word onderskat, en daar word te min tyd toegelaat om die projek te voltooi. Laat voltooiing, verlenging-van-tyd-eise, met gepaardgaande boetes, geskilkoste en versteuring van verhoudinge volg. Oplossing: Tydige beplanning, meer tyd vir die projek, realistiese kritieke pad, effektiewe tydbestuur en volgehoue kommunikasie.


Die begrip “gehalte” tussen die argitek en aannemer verskil dikwels, wat meebring dat werk oorgedoen moet word, dat dit tyd neem en risiko veroorsaak wat manifesteer in eise, verskille en geskille. Oplossing: ‘n Vooraf-ooreengekome pro-aktiewe gehaltespesifikasie met deurlopende kontraktuele prosesse vir inspeksie, vergoeding en bestuur.


Die bouheer wat die aannemer laat of glad nie betaal nie, betalingswaardasies wat onder- of oorskat word en tariewe wat moeilik bepaalbaar is. Boukontrakte poog om dit te orden maar verstek lei tot eise, verskille en geskille. Oplossing: Die spoedigste oplossing blyk die opskorting van werk te wees; totdat betaling geskied met verlenging van tyd vir dié tydperk. Ander meganismes om betaling af te dwing is: Hofbevel gegrond op ‘n sertifikaat as likwide dokument, maar dit neem tyd Betalingswaarborge, maar eise en dokumentasie moet eers afgehandel word Bouersretensiereg, maar dit word afgegee by verskaffing van ‘n betalingswaarborg en Verstekrente op laat betaling maar rente is eers verskuldig by ‘n volgende sertifikaat. Oplossing: Die behoorlike administrasie van kontrakdokumente, ‘n aanvaarbare tariewe-dokument soos ‘n hoeveelheidslys, kommunikasie en oproepbare waarborge

South Africa to host architecture mega event by Qaqamba Mhlauli


Veranderinge en wysigings aan ontwerp en spesifikasie beïnvloed koste en tyd en kan lei tot eise, verskille en geskille. Die probleem ontstaan veral waar opdragte vir werk anders is as dié in die kontrak, omstandighede verander het en tariewe moeilik bepaal word. Oplossing: Voorsiening moet gemaak word vir formulegebaseerde tariefbepalings en aanpassings, voor-instruksie kommunikasie oor aanpassings en deeglike administrasie van tariefooreenkomste.


Wanprestasie, swak prestasie en gevolglike beëindiging van kontrakte is vol slaggate en kan die aannemer, die bouheer en die professionele span duur te staan kom. Die risikos word bestuur deur meganismes soos die betalingswaarborge, konstruksie-waarborge, opskortingsterme, bouersretensiereg, verstek-rentes en beëindigings-klousules. Elk van hierdie meganismes vereis prosedures wat gevolg moet word om die mins moontlike ontwrigting te veroorsaak want kansellasie van ‘n kontrak bring vrugtelose uitgawes mee. Oplossing: Die aanstelling van ‘n aannemer, wat sterk genoeg is om die werk te voltooi, deur ‘n bouheer, wat die middele besit om te betaal, geadviseer deur professionele lui wat die gesag ontvang het om hulle werk te doen, is fundamenteel.

“Maak dié slaggate toe.”


outh Africa will be hosting its first ever mega architecture event this year, from the 21st to the 27th of September in Johannesburg.

This event will open a platform for young and growing architects to collaborate, learn more and network. There are a number of speakers that are invited to come and share their experiences and love for architecture. Amongst these speakers will be South Africa’s very own Lindsay Bremner, Leon van Schaik from Australia and from the Netherlands Duzan Doepel. In this week there will also be exhibitions, indabas, fashion shows, debates and awards but the grand showcase will be the Architect Africa Film Festival. Architecture ZA 2010 will be bringing the great thinkers and debators from all over the world to talk about the hosting country’s 2010 Soccer World Cup cities. This is also the 7th Biannual South African institute of Architects convention and the Annual Architectural Students Congress. 2010 is the year for South Africa to showcase the biggest events in the world and the Architecture event in Johannesburg will be one of them.

Campus Planning conference 12-02-2010

by Wanda Verster


t is clear that the development of campuses in the South African context is an important issue and this was addressed in the CDP conference held at the department early in the year. Various experts in the field presented information on how one can consider design when larger scale environments are concerned. Spatial Development frameworks were touched on by Prof. Nel of city planning, while Prof. Bannie Britz spoke of the excellence required in all fields at universities and spoke on the unique contributions each generation can make to communal space and place on campuses. The development of the UFS campus was discussed and how attempts were made to encourage meeting places for students. Prof. Raman discussed ideas concerning education and campus planning, referring to Urbino and the University of Lancaster, and how one can learn from the various social influences present in these areas.

The spatial development framework for WITS was presented by Ludwig Hansen. Issues relating to how design can ensure excellence, the shaping of public space and the responsibility in terms of this were discussed. The driving force behind the plan was good design, the academic mission of WITS and performance on various levels. The SDF in terms of WITS was seen on certain scale levels and the design is done as such. Finally Jo Noero of Neoro Wollf spoke on the challenges faced when designing schools in different contexts. The differences of designing in a suburb of Cape Town in relation to designing in the Cape Flats were made clear by the presentation of different projects done by the firm in both contexts. The differences in terms of conceptual approach, security and the community were made clear and one could easily apply these principles.

4th year johnny wilken - stedelikheidskema


colleen steenkamp - housing




by Danelle Keulder

hat are the 3, oh wait, 6 generators of architecture? ...floor, wall, roof, burglar bars, security gates and of course alarms.

Yes, as an architect you should take all these factors into consideration when designing modern SA buildings. Should you fail to do so, the little old lady down the road will add lovely organic burglar bars to your (once stunning) cubistic windows or John will spend thousands on unsightly security gates (“But son, NOTHING can get through these! The advertisement said so!”) with which he plans to ruin the facade of his business, and your hard work!

Nowadays, we often don’t even know a single one of our neighbours. ...thoughts that make me realise what it is that i despise the most - a wall – with its power to divide and isolate. I leave you with snippets from one of my favourite poems...

Mending Wall Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, I have come after them and made repair

It now takes you 10 times longer to get into your home, because you need gate- and garage remotes, a garage, security gate and front door key and lastly, your alarm pin code.

Where they have left not one stone on a stone

Finally! Welcome home!

We keep the wall between us as we go

If you are single, this marks the dawn of your night as a recluse. You are now on “Planet You”, worlds, well...and thick walls, electric- or barbed wire fences and a few blood thirsty Dobermans away from your neighbours.

5th year student work by Tasha de Lange

...i let my neighbour know beyond the hill, and on a day we meet to walk the line and set the wall between us once again There where it is we do not need the wall. He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.” “Why do they make good neighbours?” Before i built a wall I’d ask to know what i was walling in or walling out,

It is these facts that make me yearn for open fields and make me dream of when the whole neighbourhood’s children could play in the streets, without a care in the world.

and to whom i was like to give offense... Robert Frost

4th year robert kot - sustainability




marketing sustainable concrete through advice, education & information