The South African Informal City Exhibition Goes LIVE 24/7

The Architects’ Collective, in collaboration with its partners, hosted the The South African Informal City Exhibition at the JDA's Bus Factory in Newtown, Johannesburg, from 11 November to 11 December 2011. The exhibition was one of the Technical Site Visits offered by the Local Government Programme for COP17, during the United Nations 17th Conference of Parties.

The initiative is a survey of South Africa’s most relevant and innovative design and research projects, featuring explorations and interventions in the informal sector from across the country. The aim is to open up dialogue and discussion around the critical issues of informality and urban development. As such, the month-long exhibition was accompanied by a one-day seminar exploring the opportunities and challenges around informality.

Feedback from the exhibition and seminar was so positive, and the demand for this information so great, that the Architects Collective has embarked on a process of transforming the content of the exhibition panels into widely accessible media formats, such as film, web and print.

Thanks to the enthusiastic and constructive support received from the South African Cities Network, the Collective was able to design and commission the construction of a web based version of the exhibition and has initiated fund raising for the printed "book" version, which is expected to be available later in the year.

The dynamics of information delivery have changed over recent years and the convergence of technologies make it possible to construct virtual replicas of exhibitions in a short period of time. Whilst the physical exhibition cannot be replicated - as a spacial and social experience - the information delivery capability of the exhibition is vastly enhanced by its web counterpart. On the web, the exhibition is non-spacial, personal, private and informative - it is a point of reference, an educational experience, a permanent record.

Amongst the exhibitors and contributors one finds the names of those on the forefront of pro-active social responsibility and responsive urban awareness. This project brings important and relevant information to those interested and involved in the informal sector so that authorities, professionals and the public alike can learn from valuable work that has been done in this field.

The exhibition explores South Africa’s own conditions of informality by providing a showcase for the work being done locally to address these important issues; and it also provides a platform for comparison and an opportunity for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing.

The South African Informal City Exhibition focuses on pioneering projects throughout South Africa, in centres that are at the heart of urban migration. The magnetic quality of these centres means that metropolitan areas have a large and continuous need to provide shelter and associated social amenities. These conditions demand innovative and unique approaches to the issues of informality, and this exhibition explores a range of proposals and projects, and their relative successes or failures.

The SAIC Exhibition is an initiative of the Architects’ Collective, and has been made possible with the support of the Johannesburg Development Agency, the Neighbourhood Development Programme (National Treasury), the South African Cities Network, and the NRF Chair in Development Planning and Modelling, with the support of Finmark Trust, Afritects, the Wits School of Architecture & Planning, Mike Barker Associates and Asiye Etafuleni.

Visit the South African Informal City ONLINE Exhibition: