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Head of Editorial and Production Alexis Knipe Editor Julian Cooke Cover Picture Shack Rise By Daniel Maggs The artwork is a mixed-media work on paper (3200mm x 1670mm), exhibited on Spier Contemporary 2010. A property developer goes bust, the reinforced concrete structure (with scaffolding) that was being constructed is abandoned. It is inhabited by squatters, and is an adaptable community/organic democracy, celebrating the potential of the human and creative spirit. It stands in counterpoint to the subsidised wastelands the South African Government is building for the poor and the endless tracts of bland, middle-class suburbia. Editorial Advisory Committee Walter Peters Roger Fisher Ilze Wolff Paul Kotze

Copy Editor Eunice Rider Proofreader Sarah Johnston Head of Design Studio Rashied Rahbeeni Designers Dalicia Du Plessis Junaid Cottle Content Coordinator Hanifa Swartz

Head of Sales Robin Carpenter-Frank Sales Manager John dos Santos Project Manager Hendri Dykman Sales Consultant Ismail Abrahams Financial Accountant Lodewyk van der Walt

Senior General Manager: Newspapers and Magazines Mike Tissong Associate Publisher Jocelyne Bayer

SUBSCRIPTIONS AND DISTRIBUTION Shihaam Adams E-mail: Tel: 021 469 2400 Copyright: Picasso Headline and Architecture South Africa. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publishers. The publishers are not responsible for unsolicited material. Architecture South Africa is published every second month by Picasso Headline Reg: 59/01754/07. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Picasso Headline. All advertisements/advertorials and promotions have been paid for and therefore do not carry any endorsement by the publishers.

MOVING PLACES I HAVE FRIENDS IN STOCKHOLM who choose not to own a car. They find it easier to move about on public transport, avoid spending money on a constantly diminishing asset and garaging, don’t waste hours in traffic jams and, when they leave town, they take a bus to the station or the port. It’s easy, safe and efficient and, because the stations are well-designed and covered in contemporary art, it’s a pleasant, even elevating experience. Of course poorer members of society who cannot afford cars have the same experience. An easily accessible city evens out disparities and makes it possible for everyone to enjoy its amenities. By contrast, the sore lack of good public transport in South African cities daily forces huge numbers of people into private vehicles to fight their way through ever-increasing traffic. And, daily, it reinforces disparities – the rich move in air-conditioned isolation and the poor face the hurly-burly of overloaded, badly controlled taxis and often-irregular and dangerous buses and trains. The combination of modernist and apartheid planning, having put by far the major emphasis on the car, spread the city out so thinly that mass transit systems can barely work. Now that a lot of effort is being put into improving public transportation, it’s essential that the policies developed are fully integrated into broader thinking about cities and do not extend the negative legacy. That means, firstly, increase density. The importance of this is such common knowledge now it feels trite to even mention it. But signs of it being pursued with the appropriate relentlessness by our city authorities remain few. Secondly, use the great opportunities transportation facilities offer. A change of transport mode by definition generates commercial opportunity. We see this in international airports where income from shopping far exceeds that from handling planes and passengers. It is equally apparent at a smaller scale, such as at almost any underground station in St Petersburg that connects with an open plaza – good for protests, festivals, informal fruit-and-vegetable vending, and surrounded by convenience shops of all kinds. Because of this nodal nature of transportation terminals, and also their function as collective gateways, they demand to be made as bold, memorable places. In consequence of that they can become major structuring elements in the city. Call to mind the Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon, which have as much importance in the spatial framework of Paris as Sacré Coeur and the Louvre. At a local scale, bus stops or local train stations, too, are essential components in a city’s good functioning – and spatial structure. At the larger scale, airports are both an introduction and a farewell to a whole region, and will undoubtedly evoke memories (positive or negative) of its character and performance. Lastly, make an efficient system. But efficiency, often seen as the sole criterion of good transportation, does not only mean being able to get quick access to quick public transport. It also means: being able to do so without stress, putting great emphasis on clarity of direction, thus spatial articulateness; clustering convenient facilities near terminal points, for example libraries, gyms, clinics or daycare centres; and making good places to wait – sometimes for hours – comfortable, connected and calm.


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34 INTRODUCTION Julian Cooke 35 VREDENBERG HOSPITAL EXTENSION Architect: Noero Wolff 36 SARAH BARTMANN CENTRE Architect: Chris Wilkinson 38 KARBONKELBERG HOUSE Architect: Noero Wolff 39 SEETRUST SCHOOL Architect: Daffonchio in association with Leigh Anne Maurtin 40 MEERLUST- BOSBOU AGRI-VILLAGE Architects and urban designers: Piet Louw in association with David Dewar











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THE SOUTH AFRICAN Informal City Exhibition, which ran for a month until December at The Bus Factory in Newtown, Johannesburg, was one of the Technical Site Visits offered by the Local Government Programme for COP 17, the United Nations 17th Conference of the Parties recently held in Durban. The objective was to examine both the challenges and opportunities presented by the informal sector for both private and public development, with a primary focus on the people and the skills and inputs they can offer to further cooperation, information sharing and positive action between decision makers, practitioners, academics and civil society. The exhibition focused on relevant and innovative design and research projects throughout South Africa, in centres at the heart of urban migration, and provided an invaluable platform for the work to become part of greater academic, professional and public knowledge. Interventions from across the country were featured in five categories: In Situ Upgrading, Catalytic Projects, Unbuilt Projects, Backyard Interventions and Inner City Informality. Said Geci Karuri-Sebina of the South African Cities Network, one of the SAIC partners: ‘The SA Cities Network’s 2011 State of the Cities

Report, themed Towards Resilient Cities, indicates that the informal economy may add to the resilience of cities by providing livelihoods for people who cannot secure positions in the formal economy, and also by meeting unmet needs for particular goods and services. Policymakers need to understand that the sector is here to stay for the foreseeable future.’ In the words of a recent Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report, ‘the informal is normal, rather than exceptional. Growth has not reduced the proportion of people working informally.’ (OECD, 2009) ‘The success of South Africa’s cities will require an enhanced capacity for policymakers, planners, built-environment professionals and the supporting knowledge infrastructure to engage constructively with the reality of informality in enabling productive, inclusive cities,’ said Karuri-Sebina. As a platform for debate and discourse around issues of informality and sustainable-city development, the SAIC exhibition also hosted a one-day seminar. The event embraced a broad spectrum of subjects affecting the informal sector around four themes – place, movement, opportunity and engagement – and was attended by about 80 built-environment professionals, researchers, of-

ficials, practitioners and representatives from civil-society groups. The seminar integrated the thinking and potential synergies offered by these role-players with topics covering, among others, informal trading and recycling, motorised and non-motorised movement systems, ownerdeveloped housing and rental interventions, the effective use of public spaces, and community engagement and empowerment. The exhibition, an initiative of the Architects’ Collective, was made possible with the support of the Johannesburg Development Agency, the Neighbourhood Development Programme (National Treasury), the South African Cities Network, the National Research Foundation Chair in Development Planning and Modelling, and Asiye Etafuleni. For more information about the exhibition and seminar, go to


Part of the exhibit comprised an exceptional collection of photographs commissioned for the book Working in Warwick by architect Richard Dobson and research fellow Caroline Skinner. These photographs, taken by Dennis Gilbert and on loan from the Durban Art Gallery, visually celebrate street traders’ lives, the role they play in city life, and their contribution to the economy.



THERE HAVE BEEN, of late, a number of flutters and flurries about imminent demolitions, alterations or gutting of certain buildings considered to be of importance to the South African architectural legacy. We have heard of the reconfiguring of the foyer of the Aula Theatre at the University of Pretoria, originating from the firm of Phillip Nel and Partners in the early 1950s, although the design is ascribed to the young Karl Jooste; the proposed demolition of Roelof Uytenbogaardt’s Werdmuller Centre in Cape Town; the start then halt of demolition of the Nedbank ceramic grille in Durban, designed by Norman Eaton; and the threat of demolition to the SABC’s Broadcast House in Sea Point, from the firm of Meiring and Naudé, designed by the young Jan van Wijk. Structures older than the somewhat arbitrary cut-off of 60 years automatically fall within the ambit of the South African Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999, thus requiring the issue of a permit by the relevant heritage authority regarding any proposed changes to their physical status. What is often overlooked is that, in terms of the Act, the significance of a structure is not related to age alone. If any structure can be proven to be of significance in any of the areas identified in the Act, then any changes should be subject to permitting. The Act requires these areas for consideration in the heritage status of a structure: ‘Its strong or special association with the life or work of a person, group or organisation of importance in the history of South Africa.’ ARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 6| 7

I will specifically rephrase that: In determining the heritage status of a structure, consider the strong or special association with the life or work of an architect, architectural profession or institute of architects as being important in the history of South Africa. Given South Africa’s history and the way the built environment often serves political purposes, having societal consequences under the aegis of the regime in power, we may have certain reservations and constraints

Another form of recognition is the simple fact of catching the eye of a serious critic, and being reviewed in the media, to alert heritage authorities to the importance of a project.

and works have been acknowledged by peers through being granted awards for, and given reviews of, their oeuvres – then we need to think of a number of recently deceased members and their works that are outside the requirements of the 60-year clause. Jack Barnett, Jan van Wijk, Roelof Uytenbogaardt, Pius Pahl, Gordon Small, Ivor Prinsloo, Revel Fox, Glen Gallagher and Willie Meyer readily come to mind, as do many more of their generation. AESTHETIC When looking back at projects of the past 60 years, various peer-review procedures have been put in place. These make certain projects difficult to ignore. I immediately think of Henri Comrie’s ‘PG Glass Headquarters’ building – a muchlauded open competition conferred an Award of Merit in the institute’s biennial awards programme – that’s now demolished. I am well aware of the sensitivities around having ‘accoladed’ projects automatically listed for some form of protection, but built projects won on competition or conferred with awards should automatically be included as listed projects with the relevant heritage authorities. Another form of recognition is the simple fact of catching the eye of a serious critic, and being reviewed in the media, to alert heritage authorities to the importance of a project.

of conscience. But does that devalue their importance in terms of considerations posed by the Act in terms of aesthetic, architectural (it is written into the Act!), social, spiritual, scientific and or technological value? If we take our discipline – architecture – seriously, and recognise those practitioners and architects who have received accolades from the institute SOCIAL and cultural organisations – whom Grand apartheid required the proviwe laud as important and whose lives sion of ‘separate but equal’ facilities


– schools, colleges, agricultural training centres, administration offices, ‘parliaments’, stadia, broadcasting and other such facilities. Various complexes – universities, student hostels, lecturer housing and such – were conferred with Awards of Merit or featured in the UIA (International Union of Architects) issue of 1985, dedicated to southern Africa. It would be interesting to revisit some of these projects to see how they have fared over time. SPIRITUAL Churches, depending on their specific doctrine, were either fomenting revolution or were bastions of doctrinal support for secular affairs. Yet there is merit-worthy architecture, for example the Nederduitse Gereformeerde church by Uytenbogaardt in Welkom, and many others across the country. The frugality of impoverished communities required innovation. I think of the little church by Anton du Toit near Marble Hall in Mpumalanga, or of Gus Gerneke’s near Paul Roux in the Free State. And what of the abandoned or converted synagogues, the conversions of once-Christian places of worship



into functioning mosques? All these hold intrigue and are worth a revisit. SCIENTIFIC The State was once the greatest patron of research, sometimes ominously so, as in the case of the Pelindaba Atomic Energy Board and Uranium Enrichment Facility, but more benignly as with the research institutes, such as the Botanical Research Institute, the Agricultural Research Council, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the South African Bureau of Standards, among others. All were housed in good, quality, functional – and still functioning – facilities. There are lessons to be learnt here regarding durability, sustainability, functionality and usability. TECHNOLOGICAL When reviewing what was happening in the architectural environment, we tend to ignore the technologies that made much of it possible. While Norman Eaton’s home-grown and home-spun gum-pole constructions elicited derision, they still have a resonance in contemporary practice. At the other end of the scale

South African structural systems have often been at the cutting edge of what the latest technology made possible – the Storms River Bridge, the Eskom House superstructure (now demolished) and the Standard Bank high-rise building in Johannesburg. There are probably many more to reassess and celebrate. ‘GOLDEN OLDIE’ REVIEWS Architecture South Africa intends to revisit projects – golden oldies that have stood the test of time – and critically reassess them in future editions. It is hoped this will raise awareness of projects that are valued by the architecture community and that should be dealt with respectfully. We await your contributions. Roger C Fisher is a professor emeritus at the School for the Built Environment at the University of Pretoria.


1 Welkom church – R Uytenbogaardt 2 Netherlands Bank, Durban – Norman Eaton 3 Peterhouse, Martienssen, Fassler and Cooke and Hotpoint House, N. Hanson, Johannesburg

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2012/02/01 2:33 PM

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Airports have become a new kind of discontinuous city, whose vast populations... are entirely transient, purposeful and, for the most part, happy. BY PATTABI G RAMAN AND MARETHA DREYER, CAPE PENINSULA UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY ARCHITECT: BLUEPRINT ARCHITECTS (PTY) LTD

‘HE TRAVELS THE FASTEST who travels alone,’ wrote Rudyard Kipling1. Of course he wrote that at a time when air travel was nonexistent and colonial voyages in ships were the norm. It is, however, strange that such a perception, sensitive though it was for its time, persists, and that

even the radical among us do not seem to escape. Thus our gurus of Non-Place Theory argue that travellers in transport buildings such as airports are large in number and are always in a hurry, therefore the idea of a ‘sense of place’ in these buildings is incongruous and nostalgic2.

1 Landside elevation 2 Cross section

JG Ballard, a perceptive literary observer, would not agree. He comes close to presenting a nuanced interpretation of what airports can become when he says: ‘Airports... have always held special magic, gateways to the infinite possibilities that only the sky can offer... at an airport the individual is defined not by the tangible ground mortgaged into his soul for the next 40 years, but by the indeterminate flicker of flight numbers trembling on an annunciator screen. We are no longer citizens with civic obligations, but passengers for whom all destinations are theoretically open, our lightness of baggage mandated by the system. Airports have become a new kind of discontinuous city whose vast populations, measured by annual passenger throughputs, are entirely transient, purposeful and – for the most part – happy. An easy camaraderie rules the departure lounges along with the virtual abolition of nationality – whether we are Scots or Japanese is far less important than where we are going.’3 The camaraderie, cosmopolitan ethos and the sense of direction Ballard alludes to describe a sense of place. Not the nostalgic kind imagined by the Non-Place Theory but a different, up-to-the-minute kind. Surely the design success or failure of any airport depends on whether these characteristics are effectively promoted or inhibited. Take, for example, the notion of sense of direction, from which one can extrapolate the idea of knowing one’s bearing in a complex environment such as an airport. In this connection the parti of Norman Foster’s London Stanstead Airport is

3 Arrival space

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relevant. There, the concourse is a gathering space, giving you the sense of direction towards the aircraft, with all the clutter and processing below that level. Its efficacy has never been surpassed. It also offers passengers a direct walk from train to departure gate under a beautiful roof, in the guise of a hi-tech parasol, with views of the aircraft all the way, but the project’s clarity was eventually severely thwarted by the increasing demand for shops – and of course commercial premises do produce more revenue than flights. Nevertheless, very few airports match the clarity of Stanstead, and Cape Town is no exception. Admittedly, the designers in Cape Town did not have the luxury of designing on a virgin site, plus they were constrained by existing buildings that they have ably put to reuse. At the concourse there is less clutter and confusion than at other airports, ARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 1 4| 1 5

such as, for instance, in Johannesburg. Their attempt to remove some of the dross, such as retail, to the concourse’s sides and upper level could have been more single-minded. Add to this the split-level design with departures on the upper floors and arrivals on the lower floors, and with an elevated roadway system providing vehicular access to both levels, the multistorey car-park building in front, and the car-hire kiosks with a sea of car parking, and you have an organized chaos with very little possibility of creating a dignified sense of arrival. This is the international syndrome of airports around the world. Amid all this confusion it would seem architects, with some exceptions, gave up trying to give airport exteriors a unified appearance. In Cape Town, however, there is an attempt to unify the two road levels by the gigantic structure of inclined props, expressive beams and

cantilevers. A further saving grace is the arrival by bus with its modest kiosk and the breathing space of a forecourt between it and the terminal building. In case it’s felt that Stansted is too small a building to compare with Cape Town, Norman Foster’s much larger Hong Kong International Airport, handling some 30 million passengers a year, incorporates the same parti. A speed train takes the traveller to the airport’s doorstep. He or she proceeds in an almost straight line to check-in, security, immigration, shopping and boarding. The passenger can also check in bags at two new, dedicated railway stations in the city centre. The open concourse also offers views through glass walls of airplanes and surrounding mountains, which helps to know one’s bearing in this vast-but-clear structure. This way of recognising the context’s key features in configuring the


building would appear to be the best strategy for airports4. The setting in Cape Town is even better than in Hong Kong, and could have done with a similar strategy. Returning to Ballard, he suggests, with considerable optimism, that ‘the airport will be the true city of the next century. The great airports are already suburbs of an invisible world capital, a virtual metropolis whose faubourgs are named Heathrow, Kennedy, Charles de Gaulle, and Nagoya, a centripetal city whose population forever circles its notional centre and will never need to gain access to its dark heart. A mastery of the discontinuities of metropolitan life has always been essential to the successful urban dweller – we live in a street where we know none of our neighbours and our close friends live equally isolated lives within 50square-miles around us. We work in a district five miles away, shop in

another and see films and plays in a third. A failure to master these discontinuities, whether social or genetic in origin, leaves some ethnic groups at a disadvantage, forced into enclaves that seem to reconstitute mental maps of ancestral villages.’ It turns out that unwittingly Ballard’s description of the city is indeed an accurate description of Cape Town, which, to use his words again, ‘is a place where everyone knows his place.’ Ballard goes on to say, ‘in contrast the modern airport defuses these tensions and offers its passengers the pleasures and social reassurance of the boarding lounge. Its instantly summoned village lifespan is long enough to calm us, and short enough not to be a burden. The concourses are the ramblas and agoras of the future city, time-freeze zones where all the clocks of the world are displayed, an atlas of arrivals and desti-

nations forever updating itself, where briefly we become true world citizens. Air travel may well be the most important civic duty we discharge today, erasing class and national distinctions and subsuming them within the unitary global culture of the departure lounge.’ One cannot help feeling that in Cape Town’s airport (and indeed many others), with a little more imagination and empathy for the traveller, one could make airports more vivid, dynamic places. The electronic check-in-machines in Cape Town are helpful and they can be used more extensively to give a feeling of generosity to the concourse.

4 Ground-floor plan 5 Second-floor plan


The conventional check-in and ticketing areas are always cumbersome elements and having them at right angles to the direction of the traveller’s destination does help. However, one wishes something could be done to the cattle pen we go through – at our security check, in lounges which are little more than corridors in close proximity to junkfood cafeterias, in forbidding passages where our passports are controlled as we leave for abroad, and in the queuing shed where all this is done when we return. In Cape Town the existing structure was reused as the area where we now collect our luggage. The designers have managed to introduce a sense of generosity and clarity here, but the tomb-like area where the burly customs officers unceremoniously ask us to open our luggage, and the hovel where relatives anxiously wait for our delayed flights, could ARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 1 6|

have become our ramblas and agoras, supporting the camaraderie of the air travellers of whom Ballard speaks. In all this, one is not picking on Cape Town International Airport, but we architects need to confront universal flaws arisng from the typological rigidity and the instrumental reasoning of the so-called airportdesign specialists. If we do not, no-one else will. A word about the expressiveness of airport buildings. Refreshingly, imperatives of countless collaborating technologies determine the form of airports. They are almost the only type of public architecture that’s free from the pressures of nostalgia and kitsch. As far as we know, there are no Tuscan terminal buildings or control towers.5 This means that expression has to come organically from the programme, the context of the airport and the city’s wish to use the building as a gateway. Thus

Oslo Airport uses laminated-timber construction (the only one that does) to speak about the country’s major industry. Furthermore, widespread use of wood throughout the building adds warmth and a tactile quality, plus numerous carefully selected sculptures and art installations by top Norwegian and Scandinavian artists are judiciously located throughout.6 But generally, most of the best new airports are like giant sheds housed under aerofoil roofs of one sort or another that modulate daylight into vast interiors. Cape Town is one of them and, like many other airports, it unashamedly borrows Stansted’s tree motif for its structure. Of its kind, it is a competent airport, perhaps the best in South Africa, and certainly one of the best in Africa.

6 Interior – Departures

Going for Green

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Eco-cabin redevelopment of Rocherpan Nature Reserve

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‘WE THINK IN generalities but live in detail,’ wrote the English philosopher AN Whitehead. Presumably the French, who are acutely image-conscious, would disagree and say detail ought to be subservient to an overarching image conception. These polarities are respectively epitomised in the two oldest subway systems of transport – in London and Paris. Frank Pick, the brain behind the enduring identity of London’s Underground argued, ‘The test of the goodness of a thing is its fitness for use. If it fails on this first test, no amount of ornamentation or finish will make it any better; it will only make it more expensive.’ By contrast, the distinctive, ornate, Art Nouveau station entrances designed by Hector Guimard are a famous synonym ARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 1 8| 1 9

for the Paris Metro. So alluring is the image that the French gave reproductions of Guimard’s work for the subways in Chicago, Lisbon, Mexico City and the MoMA in New York, as well as an original one for the Montreal Metro. Gautrain stations lean towards the tradition of London1. The Gautrain is the first rapid transit railway system in South Africa. It links Johannesburg, Pretoria and OR Tambo International Airport with 10 stations over 80 kilometres of rail in three routes – the North-South Commuter, East-West Commuter and Airport Express Service. There are also links to the existing Metrorail lines at Rhodesfield, Pretoria and Hatfield stations, and one to be opened at Park Station in Johannesburg. The schemes consist of Sand-

ton, Rosebank and Park stations underground, Hatfield, Pretoria, Midrand and Marlboro at grade, and Centurion, Rhodesfield and OR Tambo International Airport, which are elevated. The particular contexts required a varied morphology for these stations and, hence, substantial engineering complexity. Add to this the negative view of public transport as an apartheid mechanism plus the reality that trains and stations are unsafe and unsightly, and the problem the design team had to face was almost insurmountable. It’s a remarkable feat of persuasive design that more and more people are beginning to use the Gautrain and that the consistent image of clarity in all stations, security and efficient handling of transit, have combined to overcome passenger resistance.


Gautrain stations’ vocabulary follows the idea of variations around a central theme. The attempt to forge a corporate identity was not translated as rigid rules but rather as guidelines. Within the general guidelines, architects could respond differently to the particular informants of each site. For example, at Sandton, the project was seen as the exposed ‘cavern’ and the blue and gold lighting with metallic mosaic as a reference to Johannesburg’s long history of mining gold. In contrast, in Rosebank, a curved form was introduced, having a visual reciprocity with the form of the ticket office and the eventual interior floor patterns. The identity of London Underground was patiently forged after the engineering event by the astuteness of Frank Pick. The manner in which he coordinated bus routes and underground, the measure he took to increase passenger numbers by announcing cultural events in standardised posters in controlled positions, and the way he developed the underground’s unique logo, all in consultation with leading typographers, are in history books today. There remains a great deal to do to

bring similar, enduring success to the Gautrain. The civil- and structural-engineering aspects of the Gautrain transit project are obviously very pronounced and credit must be given to the design team for not allowing the project to be a merely-engineered one. The stations have a remarkable sense of unity, clear structure and well-considered finishes. A key element in designing for transportation is the dissemination of information: the signage and the announcements in the train are, by and large, good. Furthermore, friendly security guards are able to offer clarification when mistakes do creep into automated announcements. A dynamic motto was devised, ‘Phambili, Gauteng, phambili!’ (‘Forward, Gauteng, forward!’), and designers have added to it the idea of a sense of place, efficiency and easy connectivity. Stations are not merely functional entities that enable passenger movement from platforms to trains, they are places where people spend time. The station designs have recognised this with clearly articulated structures and consistent detailing contributing to the sense

of place. The steel structure uses the stylised form of a tree, the traditional gathering place. Further ideas are drawn from local artefacts: basketweave patterns for shuttered concrete on retaining walls and bridge parapets, and beadwork patterns for columns and capitals. On the whole, local materials were used and, in all, the stations have a variegated quality, combined with a good sense of proportion – they’re neither too monumental nor too hemmed in – just right for a public place of short stay and movement. Generally speaking there were high expectations for the stations in terms of iconic architecture. But in other countries few stations are iconic and regional stations are fairly simple, rudimentary, tough and durable. The exceptions tend to be central or large, internodal stations, where more resources might be spent to make them into landmarks. Park Station in Johannesburg and Pretoria Station presented a challenging opportunity to integrate old and new to achieve 1 Pretoria station 2 Marlborough station 3 Sandton station


international standing. Disappointingly, this was not exploited at the level of, for example, Nicholas Grimshaw’s extension of Waterloo Station in London. The flagship stations in Johannesburg are the internodal Sandton and the OR Tambo International Airport stations, with their exposure to international travellers. In the latter the concourse extends the airport’s interior characteristics, but without compromising the general identity of the Gautrain in the form of finishes and colour. It has a ceiling with lighting that changes colour, inspired by African sunsets, and the concourse leads to a clear-glazed link that is in turn connected to the elevated platform structure, all three elements displaying consistency of language. Sandton, the second-deepest underground station in the world, uses a vast atrium to allow daylight to penetrate the depth – a laudable effort. The structure at the ground level is largely left incomplete so that suitable future expansion may be accommodated (property values in this part of Johannesburg are among the highest on the continent). There is a high expectation that StudioMAS, ARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 20|


which is working on urban design for the area, will come up with a telling proposal. Indeed one of the disappointments is that urban-design opportunities presented by the transit system have not been fully exploited. Furthermore, while the station architecture is workmanlike, comfortable and clean, one cannot help feeling the design errs on the side of safety. This may be attributable to the fact that projects have been dominated by foreign consultants. However competent and professional a consultant from abroad may be, it is difficult for them to engage with local nuances. Designs always involve a degree of risk taking to benefit visual impact, and the history of metro stations shows that local designers are better equipped to take these risks and succeed. ARCHITECTS GAJV – JV comprising TPSP, Bentel and Siyakha Architects (Jhb) – Marlboro, Rhodesfield and OR Tambo stations incl. master architect role PCMJV – JV comprising Louis Karol (Cpt) and TFP-Farrells (Hong Kong) – Pretoria, Centurion and Midrand stations Atkins Engineers – Pascal and

Watson (UK) architects as sub-contract – Sandton, Rosebank and Park stations SNA Engineers – LCA Architects (Pretoria) as sub-contract HHO/Ingeprop Engineers – BSN with B2 Architects (Jhb) as subcontract Holm, Jordaan Architects and Urban Designers – Tshwane Frameworks (Pta) Lavigne (France), GAPP Architects and Urban Designers – Viaduct 5 Aesthetics (Jhb) StudioMAS Architects and Urban Designers – Sandton TOD Urban Design (Jhb) ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Sincere gratitude to Tom Steer of Gautrain Architects JV (GAJV) for providing us with detailed information and graphic material. BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. The underground stations in Moscow, conceived as people’s palaces, and the more recent one for Stockholm, conceived as land art and art galleries of a sort, belong to the genre initiated by Guimard.

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TRAIN OF THOUGHT The Gautrain stations seem carefully positioned to maintain the segregation of classes but may also be ‘urban acupuncture’. BY CARIN COMBRINCK


‘OF ALL MODES of transport, the train is perhaps the best aid to thought: the views have none of the potential monotony of those on a ship or plane, they move fast enough for us not to get exasperated but slowly enough to allow us to identify objects.’ (De Botton1, 2002:57) Visitors arriving at our up-to-theminute OR Tambo International Airport ought to feel at home in the new state-of-the-art Gautrain stations, complete with their stainless steel, white, powder-coated trimmings and tree-like roof structures. They offer a seamless continuation of the international travel experience and beckon the same choice and effervescent urban experience of ‘overseas’ cities. Or do they? These stations, perched unceremoniously, disjointed from their urban contexts (except for the Sandton station, where StudioMAS proposes a comprehensive urban integration)2, offer only limited access to the most privileged parts of our ARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 22| 23


economic heartland. They are carefully and strategically positioned and crafted to maintain the segregation of classes in our society. Whereas high-income executives can now choose to travel to work in either their Mercedes-Benz or on the Gautrain, while either talking on their iPhones or emailing on their iPads, the other 99% of our society continues to experience the glass ceiling of immobility. No electricity to charge a cellphone, no airtime, no internet access. The cost of transport accounts, in many cases, for more than 70% of income. A gardener earning R120 a day must get up at 3am to be at work by 7:30am. He knocks off at 4pm to be home by 7 or 8pm, having spent around R70 on transport and airtime to secure his job3. Whether the Gautrain station is white and stainless steel, or blue and purple, makes no difference to him. Not that there is no infrastructure towards Soweto, Mamelodi and

Shoshanguve; the tracks are there; the Metrorail carriages trundle along, slowly, unreliably and dangerously. There are platforms and even some stations, in various states of disrepair, with ablutions you’d probably risk your life to enter. Informal vendors integrate organically into the vibrant urban fabric despite the obvious lack of consideration in planning around these nodes of interaction. On the one hand, one can imagine people being offended by how much money and ‘bling’ was allocated to the Gautrain – with its beautiful, clean, punctual, and quiet carriages – while so many people don’t have this luxury. The stations’ architectural neutrality, where no concern for surrounding contexts is shown, may be considered equally rude – just pretexts for continuing oppression and segregation: economic apartheid. One the other hand, however, one may perceive the value of the Gautrain and its single-minded, flashy depositories as being inspirational


in reviewing the capital asset of our burgeoning African urbanism. In the work of phenomenologist MerleauPonty, the notions of perception and participation are interrelated.4 The interchangeable powers of perception and participation therefore become valuable tools in the reimagining of our society. As much as we know that we need to grapple with the most challenging aspects of development – overcoming poverty and radical deployment of services to alleviate inhumane living conditions – we also know that human motivation plays an important role. Inspiration and motivation often follow visions held in the imagination. The success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup bore testimony to such inspiration and vision. The aftermath and consequences of the energy created then is still being digested but, for a moment, South Africans felt they could overcome their obstacles. 1 Gautrain Sandton station 2 Gautrain carriage 3 View B

The euphoria of 1994, the result of a vision, was the beginning of transformation in South Africa. It may be giving the Gautrain project too much credit, casting it alongside such examples; however, the Gautrain may well prove to become the starting point or, as Nabeel Hamdi5 (2010: 64) puts it, the point of ‘urban acupuncture’ from where the body uses its own energy to heal itself. If the Gautrain is to serve as an example, it’s quite conceivable that existing railway lines linking our townships to CBDs could become vibrant commuter arteries: hi-tech, affordable, fast and reliable. These train stations could become hubs of activity where retail and micro industries benefit from access to resources while serving thriving, mixed-use centres. These notions are supported by the Department of Human Settlements, which is collaborating with Transnet6 to make large tracts of land around stations available for housing, retail and civic functions: mixed-use neighbourhoods.

Such approaches to revitalising our urban areas bode well for the prevention of further urban sprawl, and the reinvestment potential of the blight that has led to the vast drosscapes7 of our neglected centres. Student projects8 reflect the potential of such interventions, becoming the vehicles of imagination that presuppose the youthful energy and exuberance of an urban renaissance. The possibilities for urban confidence brim with excitement. I love going home. I love the smell, the taste, the sounds of South Africa. The Gautrain is a wonderful addition to our country’s experience. One simply wants more of it, and for more of us.

BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. A de Botton, The Art of Travel London: Butler and Tanner, 2002 2. StudioMAS proposals: http://www. 3. Information derived from participative



4 JFK Terminal 5 Gautrain OR Tambo Johannesburg 6 Proposed framework


research undertaken by the B.Arch (Honours) students at the Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria, July-September 2011. 4. M Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception New York: Routledge, 1962 5. N Hamdi, The Placemaker’s Guide to Building Community London: Earthscan, 2010 6. The Housing Development Agency’s OBJECTIVES, ASSISTANCE TO THE PROVINCES, CHALLENGES AND ARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 24|

SERVICE DELIVERY, 28 JUNE 2011 The HDA has subjected 6 692 Transnet non-core properties to land-identification criteria to test suitability. 1 591 properties have been identified as suitable for human settlements development. Transnet has been formally approached by the HDA to release 309 properties measuring approximately 812.6267 hectares. 7. A Berger, ‘Drosscapes’ in C Waldheim,

The Landscape Urbanism Reader New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006, (pp 197 – 217). 8. Urban Design Framework around the development of Pienaarspoort Railway Station developed by Honours students of the Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria: Walter Raubenheimer (B.Arch. Hons), Johann Matthysen (L.Arch Hons) & Werner Landman (B.Arch Hons).



THE NEW MODEL PUBLIC Transport Facility was designed for the City of Johannesburg in conjunction with the BKS Group as an integrated modular transport facility intended to satisfy the growing need for smaller, adaptable, robust public-transport hubs. During the design process many of the city’s stakeholders were consulted to give input and advice based on their public-transport experiences. These included, among others, the City of Johannesburg’s Transportation department, taxi associations, refuse-management consultants, commuter organisations, hawker organisations, councillors, and various business organisations. To ensure flexibility, allowing for the design to adapt to the various sites’ shapes and sizes, it was decided to base the design on a modular system. The system’s building block is a covered, 25m steel structure that provides a shaded waiting area with space for four large 14-seater taxis or three 25-seater buses parked one behind the other. Each site would need to be independently investigated but the aim is – thanks to the modular, separate building elements – that it will simply be a case of arranging the modules to best suit each site. Depending on the size of the

facility required at each unique site, there are also additional facilities such as ablutions, informal-trading facilities, management offices, security offices and taxi-association facilities. These will be arranged to form a social ‘market square’ through which commuters can pass on their way to their choice of transport. These buildings will be constructed using either 6.25m or 12.5m sections of the standard 25m main structure, to further simplify the building and manufacturing process. Anchoring the market square is a vertical clock tower landmark element that also provides a combination of identity signage and a water tank, providing reserve water to the various buildings and planter boxes. These towers also provide an ideal position for advertising, thereby bringing additional revenue to the transport hubs. This revenue can be used for maintenance and general management expenses. Green areas have been incorporated into the design through the inclusion of planter boxes and trees, which are easier to maintain, and these can be irrigated with water from the main tower tank and water tanks that collect rainwater harvested from the inverted roofs. Seating has been integrated into the design in the form

of planter boxes, built-in benches, as well as small, standard concrete culverts that accommodate seating but not sleeping. The ablutions are made to be robust with ClearVu mesh and aluminium louvres being used instead of glazing, and continuous granite slabs replacing separate hand basins. The size and number of ablution facilities required will be determined according to the expected volumes of people at each unique site. The traders’ facilities are accommodated under the standard 25m modular roof structure with three possible trading options provided. These range from open, informal trading spaces with standard concrete culverts as traders’ tables, lockup displays, or shop facilities with external steel roller doors. Through the careful placement of standardised, modular building components, this project aims to create inviting, uplifting urban spaces that add value to their surroundings while enriching the commuting experience for all those who will make use of them on a daily basis.

1 Market Square plan. 2 3D view of market.



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2011/08/25 12:35 PM



Photos: Russell Cleaver


NASCENCY BECAUSE JOHANNESBURG’S altitude presented a problem for aircraft to take off fully tanked and laden, the apartheid government considered using an alternative airport, at sea level, that would enable non-stop flights to Europe. Durban was the obvious choice but, as the length of the airport’s runway, located south of the city, was geographically restricted, the idea emerged to relocate 35km northward where an open

site near Tongaat was acquired and levelled in 1973. However, the site lay fallow for the next three decades – until FIFA announced that South Africa would host the 2010 soccer World Cup. Given 32 months to deliver the new airport, architects iLembe Architectural Joint Venture divided the commission among five participating practices by building type, namely the passenger terminal, tubular airside concourse, parking garage and

offices, cargo terminal and control tower, as well as crash, fire and rescue facilities. iLembe met the challenge when, at a cost of R7,8 billion, King Shaka International Airport (KSIA) came into operation on 1 May 2010, five weeks before kickoff.

1 Vehicular arrivals



ARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 28| 29


STAFF Osmond Lange Architects & Planners were responsible for master planning and project coordination and for the design and realisation of the passenger terminal. I made an appointment to meet with partner and iLembe leader Victor Utria in Umhlanga New Town to discuss the project. While waiting for Utria I had sight of the ‘drawing office’ but recognized no-one there, which, as a lecturer of long standing, is somewhat unusual. ‘You won’t,’ Utria said, ‘they’re from Colombia... But they all speak English,’ he continued, ‘in which proficiency is a requirement for graduation there.’ Given the haste, a team of architects could not be sourced in South Africa so Utria, a Colombian national himself, flew home to recruit compatriots. Déjà vu, I thought, remembering the contingent from central Europe landed for the realization of RAU, now University of Johannesburg, Kingsway

Campus. It appears that when the pressure is on, recruitment abroad remains acceptable. It is just that the two projects are distanced in time by almost half-a-century, one in the old South Africa, the other in the new. LAYOUT AND PROGRESSION The airport is reached from the south-west where the one-way approach road passes between the parking lot on the left and the parking garage on the right, before rising in a broad U-formation to drop-off departing passengers on the first floor, under the rectangular terminal building’s sheltering roof extension. Immediately inside the building a series of double-volumes connect spatially to the parallel retail concourse on the ground floor. Two of these are penetrated by escalators, making the check-in concourse accessible to pedestrians walking from the parking garage and parking lots. This huge column-free check-in space is termi-

nated at its highest point by a central bank of elevated offices that effectively divide the public concourse from the departure hall, on the airside, while allowing for passengers to flow through the security controls beneath. Planes are boarded via the abutting upper level of the tubular airside corridor containing the jetway gates, while escalators on the south of the departure hall descend to the waiting area for the bus-toplane gates.

2 Aerial view of King Shaka International Airport’s landside from the north with the Indian Ocean in the background. The approach road is from the south-west at right. Note the vast, landscaped area of the pedestrian underpass and the distances to be covered between the terminal and the parking lots. The taxi ranks are on the left of the terminal while the vehicular pick-up area is to the right, against the office veneer to the parking garage. 3 The terminal building with the departure level on the first floor and arrivals on the ground, with a row of restaurants extending westward to the landscaped piazza 4 First/departures level


Disembarking passengers take the lower level of the tubular corridor to the terminal before descending by escalator and merging with the busfrom-plane passengers to collect their baggage on the ground floor. They then exit through the retail concourse on the landside of the building. So far, progression through the building is logical and functional. Problems arise for passengers who are to be met by private vehicles. In contrast to the spacious, sheltered drop-off zone, the vehicular pick-up area is in the form of a narrow U-shaped appendix to the approach road, opposite the entrance ARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 30| 31

to the parking lots, exposed to the elements and spatially inadequate. With the unpredictability of actual arrival times and the lack of defined parking bays, it is not a case of better traffic policing and management: the design is quite simply functionally deficient. With COP17 being hosted in Durban at the end of November 2011, the authorities subverted the design intentions and made available free parking in the garage for the first half-hour. Unfortunately passengers returning to their own vehicles are not much better off. The connection to the parking garage is not continu-

ously roofed and is exposed to winddriven rain, while those proceeding to the parking lot have a long distance of pathway to walk, much of it open to the elements. THE AIR TERMINAL AS ARCHITECTURE, ART AND LANDSCAPE Early air terminals were built as stadiums, often curved in plan and designed with tiers of terraces from which passengers and visitors could enjoy views of the aircraft – parked, taking off or landing. Things have changed and Durban’s new airport provides no such experiences. There


are no external views from waiting lounges and circulation areas; not even passengers in the departures hall can see the aircraft. Only passengers queuing to board, in the tubular airside corridor, have this privilege, but even they see little more than the docking at the boarding arms. It’s difficult to conclude that this might be a stipulation of the brief, especially in the ‘transparent’ new South Africa and compared with the examples at Cape Town International and OR Tambo in Johannesburg, particularly at the latter’s projecting bays. To boot, restaurants are outside the terminal on the ground floor in a row

parallel to the landside. If one is lucky, these outlets can be reached without getting wet, and only the best seating offers a view westward to the piazza within the broad U-shape defined by the approach road to the drop-off zone. In deference to many airports, this space for pedestrian movement is designed and carefully landscaped to fall to the underpass of the approach road leading to the parking lots, both partially canopied. Unlike the former Durban Airport, KSIA has incorporated works of sculpture. Local sculptor Andries Botha was commissioned with a statue of King Shaka, which was

approved and unveiled with considerable fanfare. However, according to the authorities, the full-size statue did not portray a king but, rather, a herdsman. Consequently the statue was removed in the depth of night. Until this issue is resolved, the indigenous Nguni cattle ‘roam’ free.

5 View from check-in concourse level to retail mall below 6 The arrivals level



FUNCTION AND EXPERIENCE The terminal building provides a clear and efficient way to move from land to air and vice versa. But, what remains as simply a spatial experience is the check-in concourse with its lattice girders spanning 60m at 35m centres, the good levels of natural lighting and the comfortable air-conditioning therein, though at what cost, as I see no low-displacement air-supply outlets (these characterize many terminals internationally). While the visibility of aircraft is generally denied from this elevated position and the giant bay window enclosing the terminal on its northwest to the drop-off zone, at least the distant landside with the remnants of indigenous bush among the rollARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 32|


ing sugar-cane fields can be appreciated. KSIA is Durban’s third airport. Despite the motivation it appears under-used, so much so that one wonders if it was even necessary. Be that as it may, the challenge to deliver KSIA was met. However, as the place of transition to the Province of KwaZulu-Natal and the front door to its largest city, Durban, the design could perhaps have been a little more daring, especially with a few good views out over the activities on the airfield and those ever-fascinating flying machines. Walter Peters is professor of Architecture at the University of the Free State. Readers are also referred to the Journal of the KwaZulu-Natal Institute for Architecture, 2/2010.


Master Planning, coordination and passenger terminal: Osmond Lange Architects & Planners Airside corridor: Ruben Reddy Architects Parking garage and offices: Mthulisi Msimang Architects Cargo terminal: NSM Designs Control tower, crash, fire and rescue facilities: Shabangu Architects Photography: Russell Cleaver

7 Section BB 8 Corridor 9 Departures

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PROJECT AWARDS In all, 52 entries were received, including five urban-design submissions, and five awards were made, one for an urban design. BY JULIAN COOKE

THE CRITERIA USED to select award winners must be agreed on and stated by those who are exercising judgement. However it should be recognised that a really good work of any art, including architecture, is first and foremost a coherent whole, a synthesis of sometimes quite-disparate elements or ideas into something new and often surprising in its apparent simplicity. Recognising this comes from examination and discussion rather than through the application of criteria in a ‘scientific’ analysis. These jurors decided that, at root, an award-winning scheme should display a certain excellence, something outstanding – outside even a high level of competence – something innovative, programmatically, spatially and technically, and not merely in and of itself but also generative of new and positive direction or further exploration. By definition such a scheme would be thorough, appreciable in depth as a form idea, as a response to a context, as a collection of spaces associated with human purpose and activity, as made of particular materials, as shaped in detail. At the same time, it would tend to display an economy of means. Appropriateness was a category used in the debate around entries. Did the project appear to be welljudged in terms of its response to a particular site, a particular climate and topography, a particular social or economic setting, an intended purpose or programme – at this time in history? Thus those with clearly arARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 34| 35

ticulated, urban contributions, social dimensions and resource consciousness were viewed approvingly. To get a good picture of projects and to assist jurors to read them accurately and in-depth, as suggested by the above, required a rounded and clearly illustrated presentation. GENERAL NOTES It is worth making four general points about the submissions, broadly. 1. There were a number of schemes which were considered to be of very high quality and worthy of publication, but which the jurors felt either did not quite meet the criterion of innovative excellence, or they were not convinced of the quality of the innovation. 2. Many clearly strong proposals were inadequately presented. It was surprising how many projects were submitted only in part. Twenty percent included no plan or no section or neither, and many showed no or very little context, making it difficult to read the nature of their particular setting. This suggests that many architects believe that plans, sections and site context are not important means to demonstrate or evaluate architectural intentions – and hence, not particularly important in design. It would perhaps be argued that the large number of three-dimensional images replaces the need for the traditional means, but those give only limited views. The real implication of this lack is the belief that only image is of any importance: the sculptural drama of the object, the surface, the shell.

3. Almost all project presentations were computer-generated. It is interesting to see what a poor means of presentation that is! At one level there is the problem that the lessskillful operators simply use textures and/or colours, which are inarticulate. For example, how does one appreciate the way a building sits in its site when the site, a South African hillside, is depicted in a smooth, shadow-less, brilliant green? But the real problem has two parts: scale and suggestiveness. When you make a model of something, you simulate its reality, simplifying and abstracting it and using suggestion to evoke the appropriate sense of finish and detail. But computers do not (readily) do this. They simply reduce full-scale to any size you want. They miniaturise rather than model and they have no built-in suggestiveness. Thus either you have too much detail – the same colours, tones, intensity of detail as a full-size reality, or you have a banal, caricature view without any suggestion of its detail reality. Obviously there is a range of skill in the offices but, essentially, both are poor representations and difficult to read. 4. Most encouraging, compared to the previous award programme, was the clear impression that many architects are taking the idea of sustainable design very seriously. It has rapidly become as much a part of the non-negotiable part of design as good planning, structural stability and water exclusion, and is beginning to play a real role in the generation of innovative form ideas and language.




The project is an excellent example of how, with hard reasoning and imagination, even a comparatively banal programme can evoke fine architecture. The architects recognised two major problems in hospital design and turned them into opportunities: first, planning efficiency requires deep building footprints with many spaces lacking natural light; second,

hospitals, in the provision of spaces for staff, are hierarchical and inequitable – ‘lower levels’ of staff work in the poorest environments. At the same time they noted that the vertical divisions in hospital planning are tightly defined by functional complexity, while the ceiling/roof is a comparatively free element. Thus a light-giving roof became the design’s major focus. The roof is made in a pattern that brings a consistent quality and character to every part of the building. Rather like a horizontal brise-soleil

with aluminium-clad insulation panels, it allows needed winter sunlight in while keeping out summer heat, both by shielding direct sunlight and the use of deep, ventilated cavities to reduce heat transfer. At the same time it is the collector for millions of litres of storm water, annually, that will be used in the hospital’s toilets and to water the gardens. The broad planning principles reinforce the intentions carried in the 1 3D plan of extension 2 Isometric of roof


4 3 Detail of hospital roof 4 Interiors

roof, with all the wards on the north side overlooking a garden, and all the services and deliveries out of sight in a service court. Finally, the architectural character is derived from a simple technology of local materials and reflects the local vernacular. In all it is a building that is fully expected to achieve what the architects aimed for; a healing place for the sick, a bright and friendly environment for work, and an intervention that makes use of resources in a sustainable way.



The project was a competition submission for the Sarah Bartmann Centre of Remembrance on a hillside site, located on both sides of the approach road to the small town of ARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 36| 37

Hankey in the Eastern Cape. The most distinctive aspect of the proposal, perhaps, is that, more than a building, it is a series of spatial episodes, of natural and made landscapes, of outside spaces defined in varying degrees by buildings, walls, paving and planting, and of the interiors of buildings. At no point do the buildings become objects in space but, rather, are handled as elements of landscape, embedded in it, gentle with its contour and profile, and augmenting it with new interior and exterior domains. Externally the episodes offer a varied spatial experience – from the freely shaped arrival space bounded by the administration building, the educational facilities, auditorium and workshops, to the circular, doughnut space of the overnight facility, to the ‘balcony’ space in front of the museum, overlooking the countryside, and

to the Great Place of Celebration, a fluid, open-to-the-sky amphitheatre. Interspersed with these larger elements are quieter ones at the sundial, the symbolic garden and, not least, at a high point, the simple, rectangular platform of Sarah Bartmann’s grave site. The impression created is of a journey punctuated by varied experience but very tranquil, meditative and respectful of the land and the heritage being celebrated. The architectural language is made up of four main components. The ground plane is shaped in pathways, steps and terraces to enable an elementary habitability of the site. A series of roughly parallel walls of varying heights, in many instances curvilinear and responsive to contours, reinforce the boundaries and domains. Many walls are made in off-shutter concrete poured in layers of changing colour and texture. Others are glazed and yet others are formed by light screens of latte. A tall, vaulted element with a sloping structure, made mainly of rough timber but at times also solid, is used in the edges between inside and out, making colonnades and stoeps sufficiently large to give bold scale but, in its roundedness, quiet and harmonious with the hills. Lastly, the roofs are made in a series of planes, flat over the narrower spaces, forming clerestory lighting and ventilation openings between the layers, and gently sloping over the broader spaces. The elements are combined with considerable dexterity to construct a fascinating experience of openness and closure, light and dark spaces, shadow and sunlight, rough texture and smooth. The materials used are mainly local and they are carefully selected in colour to blend with the natural landscape. 5 Section – multipurpose building 6 Isometric of roof 7 Museum entrance








This small, two-bedroom house is situated on a rather a difficult corner on a steeply sloping site in Hout Bay. Its overall organisation has the living wing at a higher level, opening onto a timber deck with a spectacular view over the bay, and the sleeping wing at a lower level, orientated north-east into an enclosed garden. Apart from blending the building with the land, the arrangement offers the occupants two distinct outdoor-living possibilities. Between the two wings is the entrance and parking area, at an inARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 38| 39

termediate level – an excellent resolution of a council requirement. Spatially the building is very distinctive, with its rounded ends and vaulted roof to the living room. The roundedness seems to integrate the building form into its corner site and hillside context in an effortless way while, at the same time, making well-fitting interior spaces: the two bedrooms and the intimate part of the living space, aptly enclosed, even cave-like, and the circular staircase. The sense of enclosure is enhanced and there is a fascinating multiplicity of space. This is achieved by two further devices: large windows and glazed doors opening into outside spaces, but through a system of deep


piers, creating a thick layer of space between inside and out. In the living area’s vaulted space is a set of horizontal layers, made in thin planes of concrete with circular holes cut out, through which overhead light pours. 8 House on the corner 9 Interior living spaces 10 Plans







Seetrust is an organisation committed to developing a sustainable way of life and, as a first phase, propose to build a mixed-use development that includes housing, live-work units and a primary school, as well as a recycling facility and organic farming. The school radically breaks from precedent in two ways. Firstly, instead of spreading itself over the land in the common, suburban type, it edges closely onto a road in a series of double-storey units, comfortably accommodating facilities for 250 children on 3 000 square metres. It posits

an urban type much denser than the norm. In a complementary way, the school’s form-idea is urban in nature: a structure of built and open spaces linked to a main route. The simple strategy of staggering the built units in their attachment to the spine makes a set of three-sided courts, each slightly different from the other – sheltered spaces, for outdoor learning, directly connected to the classrooms. The spine itself is a two-storey gallery, the upper level reached by stairs that break its length. The end result is a multiplicity of sociospatial situations. Secondly, the issue of scale. In contrast to the usual, connected ranges of classrooms, the freestanding doublestorey units are small: typically com-

posed of one classroom over another. This fragmentation avoids the monolithic ambience of many institutions, creating a well-scaled precinct with a large, bold, main element (the spine) and a series of small buildings and spaces of the scale of the classrooms. The administration section, too, is fragmented into a cluster of similar, cubic elements, reducing its impact on the whole. Finally, the handling of openings and the variegation of colour create a multi-scaled environment – as well as a welcome sense of lightness and playfulness.

11 Section a-a 12 Section b-b 13 Site plan, ground and first-floor plans




The programme for the village is an interesting one wherein the residents of an existing hamlet, on 65 hectares of land owned by the Department of Public Works, have formed a comARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 40| 41

munity trust in connection with the established farm of Solms-Delta. In the agreement the village is to be expanded from its present population of 33 families to a maximum of 200. Solms-Delta will help the residents develop the land into a viable farm, guaranteeing the purchase of grapes for 10 years, after which the trust will be able to pursue their own development path. The proposal is exemplary in a number of ways. First, it counters the

prevailing thoughtless development in the area that, piece by piece, is flooding the countryside – fine agricultural land with unproductive, low-density sprawl. In contrast, it is designed as a model part of a larger idea: a set of small, finite villages related to agriculture and linked in a linear ‘string of beads’ to a major transportation route. Secondly, it is carefully shaped and sized to avoid disturbing the good, quality fynbos on the land and the underground water


system. Thirdly, it is structured as a series of spaces seamlessly linked to the existing village, distinctive in form and outline, organised in a public/ private hierarchy, and demonstrating just the right degree of sameness and difference for a settlement of this size. The spaces are given an added three-dimensional emphasis through the use of devices such as pavilion buildings with slight changes of geometry, special corner buildings, and narrowing at ‘gateways’. The

arrangement and shaping of erven allow for varied house types and onsite vegetable gardens while they set the conditions for a close relationship between house and street: sociable streets and excellent surveillance. Lastly, the proposal pays respect to tried and tested Cape settlements from Mamre to Elim, with agriculture hard up against the village, stoeps onto the street, and traditional combinations of thick, low walls and trees – in a contemporary way.

14 Broad development idea 15 Village plan

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INTRODUCTION Architects are having difficulty in designing buildings as integrated systems and we remain scared of the ‘technology monster’. This column aims to highlight projects adopting a systemic approach to design. As practitioners we should address an inherent apprehension to building services and technological systems. This can be achieved by demystifying an integral part of architecture. This article series investigates projects that attempt a balanced environmental approach. BACKGROUND More than 40 years ago, Reyner Banham advised architects to include environmental engineering as part of the design process. The Architecture of the Well Tempered Environment, first published in 1969, traces the history of environmental technology in the built environment. The book reveals two poles in architectural design. The first represents a lack of interest in providing the necessary services for buildings, while the second over-emphasises the servicing of a building. According to Banham, the architectural profession should no longer attempt to control cultural approval. Rather, architects need to confront invention and exploit all the tools and devices available to the built environment – technology should no longer be seen as separate from architecture; rather it should be integrated as ARCHIT E C T UR E | SA 44| 45

a significant part to ensure productive use of resources. He propagates a balanced approach that combines parts of high- and lowtech innovations. PRECEDENT The new Welcome Centre on the existing Campus of the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) in Lever Road, Midrand, was completed in 2010. It is situated on the following GPS coordinates: S25°56’14.80” E28°08’05.66”. CONDITIONS According to the DBSA guideline document for its main campus, an attempt should be made to have all buildings becoming energy neutral. The DBSA policy is not to go off grid, but rather to achieve energy neutrality or energy plus and CO2 neutrality. The design methodology for new buildings is underpinned by the minimisation of energy consumption. The project was initiated by: • Identifying the key elements for a green building to maximise outputs; • Modelling so-called ‘green’ buildings in relation to different building types; • Highlighting the risks associated with green building, and overcoming them by applying management strategies; and • Reviewing the costs of construction by calculating specific needs with the available possibilities. It could be argued that environ-

mentally responsible design and construction are guided by three considerations: • Protection of the environment – to reduce environmental impact to a level that does not exceed the environment’s natural capacity to deal with it; • Efficient resource utilisation – to use energy and other natural resources much more efficiently than the current norm; and • Sustainable supply – to conserve the long-term productive capacity of forests, soils and water resources, and to use a higher proportion of renewable raw materials. The following aspects were considered in this particular project: • Energy cost and energy security; • Quantify and manage demand; • Payback periods and capital investment; • Integrated approach and systems approach; • Each building a consumer and generator; • Hybrid systems; and • Management options. PROJECT DESCRIPTION The Centre is a small pavilion oriented towards oncoming traffic along its feeder road, whilst it turns its grassy back to the N1 highway. A rolling, planted roof provides thermal mass, harvests rainwater; it also forms recesses along its edges to protect against summer sun. Large windows towards the west were required to allow direct visual


connection with the western feeder road, and permeable vertical sun shading screens were designed to accommodate views while at the same time protecting openings. Fresh air supply is drawn in via underground pipes, thereby pre-heating the air in winter and pre-cooling it in summer. A solar water heater provides warm water for under-floor warmth in winter and domestic hot water throughout the year. The building further relies on photovoltaic energy from 30kWp panels. All stormwater for landscaping is treated in situ with a retention dam collecting stormwater, while also promoting existing bird and wildlife, reducing the demand for council supply. DESIGN RESOLUTION By efficient design, the annual consumption of the Welcome Centre has been reduced from 83,880kWh to 54,250kWh. A solar photovoltaic array was installed to cater for the remaining requirement. This system allows for an uninterrupted power supply (UPS), thus affording full energy security. Collapsing soil conditions on site necessitated a 3m excavation. The deep excavation was a costeffective opportunity to use the earth’s constant temperature to assist with ambient indoor temperature. UNDERGROUND PIPES The following components make up the earth pipe system: • Four nominal Ø375mm (ID) concrete pipes are placed at 1500mm centres. The minimum depth was 2500mm under surface bed/NGL. The pipes were laid to a fall of 1 in 120 to the sump. The minimum length of pipe is 12m. • A twin ventilation system is used. A positive pressure is created at the intake tower through a variable speed fan, and secondary ventilation from chamber to building is achieved.

• The ventilation system achieves a total maximum airflow 912m3/h @ 0,5 Pa/m length and 3,7m/s velocity. However, the required air changes (ACH) are as follows: Summer: 08:00-20:00 at 6ACH; Winter: 08:0020:00 at 0,3ACH. • Filters were provided, all inlets were made vermin-proof and protected from possible outside flooding. • The intake tower was covered with a creeper to create micro-climate.

the west and south-west aspects, horizontal shading on the north.

BUILDING ENVELOPE The cavity walls were insulated with 40mm expanded polystyrene. This detail was continued to the foundation level. Thermal bridges at wall ties were minimised and thermal breaks were required where the walls met the windows/doors.


FENESTRATION Double glazing was used for all glassed openings. No thermal break frames were available. The aluminium frames (maintenance requirement by client) were internally insulated, to minimise thermal bridges. Vertical louvres were installed for

CONCLUSION Although limited in size, this project represents an integrated design approach. The Welcome centre at DBSA assimilates a host of sustainability requirements into a coherent whole. Thus, Banham’s concerns, about the architect’s wan-ing confidence to deal with energy problems, seem unfounded in this project. Architects: Holm Jordaan Architects and Urban Designers Architectural Team: Gerrit Jordaan, Deon van Aswegen, Jaco Botha, Fritz Thomashoff Architectural Renderings: Cliff Gouws Energy consultant: Omnibus Engineering, Henning Holm Environmentalist: Galago Structural engineers: Wedge Projects Landscape architects: insite landscape architects Mechanical and Electrical engineers: Dientsenere Tsa Meago (DTM) Engineering Contractor: Mbale Properties Quantity Surveyor: De Leeuw Civil / Structural Engineers: Wedge Projects Contractor: Mbale Construction

1 2 3 4

Bird’s-eye view Solar photovoltaic array Plan of centre Section


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Who are the South Africans that are able to shift paradigms with placemaking buildings that

Breinstorm 18102011

are ecologically regenerative and also uplift the community? The AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture was created to find out. See previous winners online and get everything you need to enter at



Re-evaluating the role of the architect at a time of global economic crisis 20 - 24 SEPT CAPE TOWN 2012 DESIGN URBAN CULTURE MEGA-EVENT

AZA2012 Biennial Festival

Architecture ZA 2012 is set to become Africa’s premier urban culture festival as it brings together leading-edge thinkers and multi- disciplinary practitioners from around the globe. It is the second event of this scope being held in South Africa.

Theme: Re-scripting Architecture

Re-evaluating the role of the architect at a time of global economic crisis, the biennial will focus on the relevance of the traditional role of an architect as a passive receiver of commissions by various stakeholders �������������������������������������������������������.

Call for submissions: Papers, abstracts & proposals

AZA2012 is calling for papers and proposals that offer a cultural exploration of the wide range of thinking and actions that shape South Africa.

Deadline: Accepted until March 2012 for review

Please note that academic papers relating to the theme will be subjected to a peer-review process and will be published during the conference proceedings. Please submit all papers to





Photo: Nic Coetzer


I DON’T OFTEN laugh out loud at movies – especially the laugh-outloud kind. But occasionally there will be an unexpected moment where, against the flow of the film, something just doesn’t ring true and results in a bit of side-splitting. It recently happened while I was watching the wistfully sentimental but nevertheless charming (500) Days of Summer. The protagonist, Tom, is a failed architect working as a greeting-card illustrator, and he is in love with Summer (not the season, the person). In their wooing before his love-lost wooziness, he takes her to Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles, and there, on her arm, he sketches the skyline as he’d like it to be in Los Angeles – pretty as a picture. At which point you laugh out loud at the misrepresentation of what an architect does and yell: ‘No wonder he’s a greeting-card illustrator!’ This reminds me of Herbert Baker. In 1930 he visited America and tried to make sense of New York City, saying, ‘[... In New York’s high towers] the horizontal lines have been abandoned, and in effect it is all rather, if it is not irreverent to say so, higgledy piggledy vertically. There is little attempt in the new buildings to give the steadying effect of cornices or horizontal parapets to the heads of the towers, and they look as though their heads had been torn off or “scalped,” leaving the raw edges.’ Of course Baker was struggling, as all architects seem to, with the move from the horizontal and earth-bound to the vertical and the airy. From the placed to the displaced – ask Frank

Lloyd Wright. But moreover, for Baker, the city was a stage-set design to be seen from a distance, not something to be engaged in and walked through. There is not much difference in how Baker and ‘Tom the architect’ in the movie see the city. For both it’s a pretty picture designed by architects at a distance. In fact, Tom takes Summer on a stroll through Los Angeles and tells her: ‘Yeah, the street level is not so exciting, but if you look up...’ – which cues heavenly scenes of beautiful early 1900s corniced buildings, their horizontal lines curtailing the aspirational density of Los Angeles. I know he means architecturally but by looking upwards, Tom and Summer enact an intentional disavowal of the street and its life and urbanity. Their view pulls us out of the excitement of the street and into a sentimentalising vision of a city where architects are stage-set designers, pretty-picture painters. But there is another, more subtle connection between Baker’s statement and the movie. It’s hinted at in the violence Baker sees done to architecture in New York. For the capitalist city is bigger than the architect, it is a higgledy-piggledy organism feeding off the flush and flow of finance and the whims of clients; not the masterful hand of a Nietzschean übermensch(italsanduppercase) designer – an example of which can be found in St Petersburg’s horizontally endless soviet-era housing. And at Bunker Hill in Los Angeles, in the quaint park where the lovers meet in the movie, thousands of families were moved in a ‘slum clearance’

project: some very poor people paid very much for the lovebirds in the movie to enjoy their seat and their view – to have the ugly parts of the city scraped away. Architects can’t design a city; some think they can. And when they do, bad things happen. Maybe it would be better if architects just left the city alone and let it be fancifully constructed by cinematographers and film directors, even if they horribly misrepresent architects and what we do. This brings me to the funniest architect in any movie – Gary Cooper playing Howard Roark in The Fountainhead. It’s almost as funny (ludicrous!) as Ayn Rand’s book itself. The laugh-out-loud scene is right at the end of the movie where Dominique Francon, Roark’s dominated love interest, rides up the full shaft of the world’s tallest building, with Roark standing imperiously above her, legs askance, dominating the world. It is just ridiculous – you don’t even need to know about Freud to know what that scene means. Here is an example of Baker’s horrifically scalped building, sans cornices, as bare and bold and cold as Howard Roark’s ambition. Good thing too, or Dominique might have been scalped by a cornice before reaching the top. But there is one more act of violence to be noted in this story of Summer and fountains. And that is the damage done by Rand’s book to the gentle psyches of so many young students of architecture who have suffered their way dutifully through it. It’s another misrepresentation of what architects do or are or should be. Hers is a vision of architecture uncompromised by the messy reality of people and life, an architecture as one-dimensional as a greeting card or a stage set – the laughable idea that architecture is as simple as doodling a visionary sketch on an outstretched arm.




SINCE THE MID-1980s there has been an increasing fragmentation of the long cycle of learning the complex professional knowledge of architecture. First the traditional six-year BArch degree, with its iterative cycle of building up foundational, intermediate and integrated design knowledge, was divided into two three-year degrees (BAS and BArch degrees). The intention of this ‘splitting’ was ease of administering a minority of students in default, or who wanted to shift career. It was not a curriculum change in terms of knowledg. Overlaid onto this split was an increasing ‘programmatising’ of courses – an expediency required for more explicit tracking of ‘throughputs’ within more discreet cost centres – which resulted in difficulty in sustaining the ‘fourth year’. Although this had been an important opportunity for consolidating learning by experiencing good architecture, and for starting to chart an independent way as an aspirant architect, there was no programme norm for the year of selfstudy. With the mobilisation in the late 1980s and early 1990s of the technikon-diploma lobby group (trained as technical assistants to architects but increasingly finding successful niches in independent practice), and with the support of large technikons in the then Transvaal, registration within a unitary statutory professional council was achieved for technicians with the national diploma, and technologists

who would have achieved the BTech degree (with ‘grade creep’ of these titles to architectural technologist and senior architectural technologist, respectively). The unintended consequence for the university course was a ‘paraprofessionalising’ of the first degree, as its graduates were then registrable. Education for exit with paraprofessional skills then started to become a pressure on the curriculum of the first degree, at the expense of education in the deeper foundational knowledge required for successful postgraduate progression. That these BAS graduates exited somewhat incongruously as candidate senior architectural technologists implied a ‘technologising’ of the university course which, while it had at best always been inherently based on the integration of making with design thinking, now had technology identified as an end in itself. So a stereotypical practitioner’s complaint that ‘graduates know nothing about detailing’ now had an easy solution: ‘add more technology’. The implementation of the Higher Education Qualifications Framework (HEQF) brought a further fragmentation of architectural knowledge and curriculum – on the necessary basis of maximising access, but with shorter, more discreet qualifications in apparently flexible progression (linked to discreet NQF levels). So the second degree was split into two single-year degrees – BAS (Hons), and MArch(Prof). This ‘modularising’ brought with it new selection

hurdles for entry into each subsequent degree and a tendency for students to play it safe by repeating what they already knew had worked in previous assessment, rather than grappling with more rigorous design integration and increasing complexity. Now, with promulgation of SACAP’s ‘Interim Policy on the Identification of Work for the Architectural Profession’ (IDoW, replacing a reservation of work over 500m2 for architects with categories of work that architectural technologists, senior architectural technologists and architects may undertake, graded by building complexity and site sensitivity), educators may expect a ‘typologising’ of knowledge if accreditation boards short-cut their scrutiny to the design of... undergraduate level: fast-food outlets; rural schools; exhibition stands; small, industrial buildings; doctor’s rooms; shop interiors; guesthouses; two-storey apartment buildings. honours level (if the registration council were to shift the university qualification required for senior architectural technologists from the BAS to the Honours degree): community halls; small schools; gyms; town museums; community libraries; medium-sized industrial buildings; clinics; neighbourhood shopping centres; 30-bed hotels; three-storey apartment buildings. master’s level: opera houses; convention centres; stadia; regional museums; power stations; hospitals; regional shopping centres; large hotels; multistoried apartment buildings. The splitting, programmatising, paraprofessionalising, technologising, modularising and typologising of knowledge and curriculum work with each other to disrupt the long cycle of learning necessary to build the deep foundational knowledge required to access high level, professional knowledge of architecture. The IDoW, with its seemingly neat alignment of NQF levels, course modules, registration



categories and their competencies, now formalises these disruptions in legislation. Several things are going on here that need to be unpacked, educationally. SKILLS ARE SEPARATED FROM KNOWLEDGE Skills and knowledge are always integrated, in every professional-knowledge structure. In the case of architectural knowledge, technical and production skills are embedded in the integrated knowledge of theory, making, implementation and design. The core knowledge here is representational – not as a graphic end in itself but as a set of disciplinary tools for visual thinking to unlock a creative integration. This takes a long time to learn and, although it may appear to be similar to ‘documentation’ or ‘presentation’, it should not be confused with the procedures of practice required at different registration levels. LONG CYCLES OF LEARNING ARE REDUCED TO ‘TOP-UP’ MODULES The implication of the IDoW is that a one-year module (eight months of tuition) on top of the senior architectural technologist qualification can differentiate competence in design at the scale of community halls and clinics from opera houses and hospitals. This is not believable: complex design knowledge and building complexity are not entirely axiomatic. It also takes a number of years of learning to progress from an intermediate level of knowledge and skill to fully integrated design knowledge – currently three years of postgraduate learning (if one includes the ‘fourth year’) and two years of practical experience: a five year cycle. This postgraduate learning is not independent of undergraduate learning; success requires academic planning across the whole six-year curriculum. In the process, an intermediate level of knowledge and skill will be ARCHI T E C T UR E | SA 52|

acquired, but it is not so obvious how that maps onto an intermediate level of professional registration for autonomous practice. EQUATING DEGREE AND DIPLOMA SEQUENCES While it seems a good idea that both universities and universities of technology provide routes to registration as an architect, there is an important difference: one route requires matric with exemption (degree entry) and the other requires matric with endorsement (diploma entry). While the IDoW deftly aligns diploma- and degree-curriculum routes on the basis of NQF levels, it is silent on the impact of this difference in cognitive level at entry on knowledge sequence and pace. For example: • Is matric exemption a necessary basis for acquiring the theoretical and material knowledge that has to be independently synthesised in design enquiry? • How do these differences play out at comprehensive universities, where both degree-entry and diploma-entry routes are offered? • What level of mathematics is required? ‘Enough to draw out the internal geometric ordering of form, to understand the basis for calculating statics, and to test environmental performance? These sorts of questions are important for curriculum design, however, there is little available evidence for answering them. Much of this kind of understanding is tacit and embedded in institutional memory – an insufficient basis for qualification planning across institutions. SELECTIVE APPROPRIATION OF HEQF PRINCIPLES While the HEQF necessarily seeks to open up progression opportunities to the maximum level of an individual’s ability, irrespective of background or school experience, this is not entirely

independent of the requirements of disciplines for a coherent sequence of knowledge acquisition. In fact, the HEQF maintains a division between professional-degree and vocational-diploma qualifications, as a response to social and economic need. A document (Council on Higher Education, 2011) on the review of the HEQF rejects submissions seeking a short-cut from a diploma to a ‘top-up’ professional degree. It reasserts that different curriculum types are not necessarily interchangeable. Curriculum coherence as a whole is the driver of articulation. SENIOR ARCHITECTURAL TECHNOLOGISTS OR ARCHITECTS Underlying all these educational dilemmas is a key question: if universities of technology now have the option to educate architects, why do we need senior architectural technologists as some sort of quasi-architects, whose intermediate level of practice must be policed? Wouldn’t it be better to have more architects per capita, educated to the full level required for practice (perhaps with a range of different design strengths accruing to different kinds of university), with a broader range of entry routes accessible to a more representative demographic of entrants, and a longer, more comprehensive cycle of learning between paraprofessional and professional registration levels? Perhaps SACAP has consulted widely on these problems of education for the ‘identification of architectural work.’ As an ordinary university teacher, I have not been aware of this. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Council on Higher Education (2011). Discussion document on the HEQF review, 26 July 2011. Government Gazette 34645. South African Council for the Architectural Profession, Board Notice 154 of 2011: Interim Policy on the Identification of Work for the Architectural Profession, 4 October 2011. Government Gazette No. 30353. Department of Education, No. 928: The Higher Education Qualifications Framework, 5 October 2007.


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