MASTERCLASS 2010 : ALEXANDRA: "heritage" and the standard cheap

The Gauteng Institute of Architects is very happy to announce that bookings are now open for the first 

RAPID THOUGHT TRANSPORT - Architects Re-imagine Joburg Design Masterclass for 2010:

ALEXANDRA: "heritage" and the standard cheap 

12, 13, 14 FEB : 3 intensive masterclass days 
19 Feb: intermediate crit 
26 FEB: public presentation 

Cost: R1600-00 to built environment professionals / R1000-00 to members of GIfA / Free to students 
4 x Category 1 CPD points to professionals 

This first studio will be run by DUSTIN A. TUSNOVICS, an Austrian/Italian architect and lecturer who runs a Vienna-based practice, with several "rapid" buildings in South Africa to his name. "Readymix Architecture" is the term he has coined for his extremely rapid construction of community buildings in rural and township areas. 

This idea runs in counterpoint to the usual "solutions" to "Poverty Relief", as it sets up a polemic which directly engages the contemporary South African "roll-out" of non-urban RDP housing that currently holds us hostage. Tusnovics's are inventive and climatologically sensitive buildings that are made in 6 weeks in collaboration with European architecture students working together with the local communities. 

These projects are not the usual run of the mill NGO fare, but demonstrate a sustainability and design integrity that are able to mount an instant critique of the way most things are "provided" to townships and rural areas. 

All these projects directly engage the "public" realm, a realm that is notably unconstructed in most low-cost South African 'urban' developments.

This MASTERCLASS will engage the inventive re-use of an existing industrial (partially squatted, partly legitimately occupied) building in Alex - a building that is close to the Wynberg edge, and thus able to move between various realities. 

This project is "real" in that the Karabo Early Learners' Centre is looking to expand its ambit through the provision of various adjunct facilities to its usual day-care facilities. The studio will gather itself around various interpretations of "heritage", a word not commonly associated with 'standard cheap' industrial buildings, often formally abandoned along the edges of suburbs and townships - buildings which then become open to surreptitious or informal incorporation and thus generate further histories and geographies. 

These are buildings at the extreme edge of cheapness, almost anti-urban - yet manifestly capable of community and shelter. Are these buildings bridges of a sort between our outdated zone-dominated urbanisms? symbols of advance and retreat? paradigm shifts beween old modernist contexts and new social/cultural validities? bridges that are ripe for ' blowing up ' ….? Alexandra is an expanding/imploding historic centre of disparate fabric in both competition and overlapping dialogue with the myriad centres of contemporary 'Joburg'. 

What are the overlaps between ideas of "heritage" and "re-use" when seen in simultaneous motion? "Cognitive urbanism" is a rich matrix through which Alex's various pasts and futures (cultural, economic, ecological, emotional) can be re- read , and re-written using inventive lateral thinking and alternative means that might be communally transformative by nature, by inclination… 

In keeping with the spirit of Rapid Thought Transport, this studio seeks the re-imagination of our city towards optimistic urban futures which are able to re-imagine and project the present into a wide range of future trajectories.

sarah calburn architects

tel: 011 447 0867

fax: 086 686 6493