“The experience was invaluable.... very few students get to design and build a project.... aspects perhaps overlooked by more standard modes of teaching in architecture.” 

Class Representative 2016
 
Video Produced by Ross Langtree

 

PROJECT OVERVIEW

 
The project was the design and construction of a large scale architectural installation at AfrikaBurn in the Tankwa Reserve landscape in the Karoo. The project offered the opportunity to investigate the pedagogical implications and processes of including a design/ build project into the academic curriculum; and as an architectural undertaking explored the potential of the architectural model in the design process, and the use of construction limitations as a generator for tectonic ingenuity.
 
The process started with unpacking the design brief of the event theme, “X”, which lead to theoretical discussions around the poetic experience of landscape in the architectural discourse, and an interrogation of academic papers on the social, cultural and physical ideologies of the event. Where installations of the event are usually artistic in nature, it was decided that the project be architectural and that ideas be generated around notions of habitable form and space, as opposed to purely object aesthetic preoccupations. 
 
The project required a single output which presented the challenge of how a single output might be produced from a collaboration between 46 designers. The end conclusion of how to mediate this process included three stages to the project. The intention of the process was to allow involvement by all students and create a divergent scope of potential ideas from which to draw. The first stage required students to develop individual proposals around the AfrikaBurn theme “X” through modeling and sketching. The resultant process produced a bank of ideas from which later developments in the design could draw from. The class was then required to nominate two proposals to develop further. The one selected proposal explored the theme of “X” as a construction technique (tectonic), and the other explored “X” as place. From these proposals, the class voted on which of the proposals would go through final stages of design to be constructed at AfrikaBurn. 
 
During the evolution of the single selected design proposal, two core architectural lessons evolved: how limitations in material assembly can generate creative and poetic tectonic solutions; and secondly, how the model may evolve beyond a solely representational tool in the design process through mediations in scale and direct structural imitation.
 
 

PROJECT PROPOSAL

 
In response to the event theme “X”, the final selected proposal aimed to make architectural comment on divisions and segregation currently experienced in South Africa  through the notion of a dividing wall (a linear configuration), which then dissolves through the process of burning to reveal a new place that is concerned about unity and potential (a central configuration). The site selected was proposed to erect the wall between two major attractions which would inhibit movement, and once burnt would become a collector.........“X” marks the spot.
 
Construction was done over a period of 6 days in the dry heat, dust storms and on occasion, into the late hours of the night under headlamps. The first phase include manufacturing various parts of the installation in a stretch tent back at camp, before being moved to site where the posts were hoisted up into the air. Once the posts had been settled the fabric was laced onto the support work. The technologies used included carpentry, rope tying and binding and sewing.