SAIA

Published: 26 May 2014

Arrangements for the 25th World Congress of Architecture, UIA2014 Durban are powering ahead at a rapid pace and Durban will soon have the eyes of the world firmly fixed on her as she plays host to one of the biggest gatherings of architects ever held in South Africa.

The Congress will be held at the International Convention Centre Durban (ICC) from Sunday, 3 to Thursday, 7 August.

Besides the exciting Scientific Programme, a dynamic and diverse Parallel Project Programme is being run to expand the scope of the Congress and further conversations around the themes and pertinent built environment issues. Showcasing local, national and international talent, as well as a range of ‘Otherwhere’ and City venues, such as the Durban Exhibition Centre (DEC), beachfront, galleries, CBD and city centre, these projects will be open to both delegates and the general public

Nearly 100 projects were received for consideration from around the world including Costa Rica, Germany, France, Taiwan, USA and Rwanda; these included book launches, exhibitions live activations, art and culture projects. As well as the projects that will take place in the DEC, activations will take place within the city centre and outlying areas; some have multiple projects attached; for example five murals, or a tour linked with an exhibition.

The range of projects is diverse and exciting and includes local and international contributions. The following are just a sample of what you can look forward to:

Retroactive (Local):

This public art intervention involves the painting of 100 circular concrete, pavement storm-water drain covers in the city centre. The content of the hand painted covers are graphic images of the indigenous/traditional dwellings of a selection of South Africa’s national peoples. Residents of Durban have been exposed to the making of these ‘artworks’ as a kind of performance art, watching the artists at work and encouraging dialogue and debate between the artists and the curious public. The ‘big reveal’ of the 100 artworks, depicting traditional dwellings, has formed a ‘retroactive’ marking of indigenous history, heritage and cultural identity. This has also resulted in a beautification of public spaces and the transformation of the previously rather bleak pedestrian pavements. Delegates will be able to visit these paintings in the city centre, and will also be able to see an exhibition of these works at the KZNSA Gallery, during the Congress.

IN_THROUGH USHINTSHO (International):

Invited by the French Institute of South Africa, a creative collaboration between the Wits School of Architecture and Planning, Wits School of the Arts and the French light artist Chia-Wen Tsai, will see a light-water-sound installation in Durban’s Rachel Finlayson swimming pool. The design for this installation has been created through student workshops; the goal being to find other-ways of producing architecture by involving architecture students in a professional project at an early stage of their studies. Tsai’s talent is to transform public spaces, making them mysterious, oneiric and contemplative, referring us to our deepest selves. The installation is expected to have a tensile structure with sails onto which live water reflections will be projected during the performance. The visitors will be invited to walk in this installation. Through their movements, the water reflections will change and the sound experience in the whole pool space will vary, so that the visitors become co-creators this space-light-sound proposition. This project is also supported by the Alliance Française in Durban and Mike Schole and Associates architects. It will be open to the public.

Durbanity (Local):

Five student and five professional photographers from the Durban Centre for Photography (DCP) have undertaken a five month long project to create a ‘visual audit’ of the city of Durban. This entails the photographic documentation of various aspects of the city and its peripheries, to better understand the dynamics of contemporary urbanisation patterns and emerging urban cultures.

The project will describe the physical route from peri-urban Cato Manor to Warwick Avenue, Grey Street, Central Durban, Point Road and the beachfront promenade and photographically document new urban patterns, emerging cultures, new spatial forms, to explore the notion of ‘people in space make place’. The outcomes of the project will be presented in an exhibition, a cine-concert in collaboration with IFAS at the KZNSA Gallery and through the publication of a book.

‘Candy Chang’ (Local):

The Candy Chang Initiative is inspired by the works of Taiwanese American Artist, Candy Chang. Chang is interested in the relationship between public space and personal wellbeing. Combining urban planning, street art, and design, she has sought more contemplative and inclusive ways to reflect and share with the people around her. Students from UKZN and DUT have proposed to install a number of Candy Chang initiatives around the city and on the campuses of UKZN and DUT, including; “Before I die…..”, “Career Path”, “I love Durban because…..” and “It’s good to be here”.

‘ih-murj’: ‘ih-murj’ (Local):

Is a photographic body of work that investigates plant life in urban areas. Based in the city of Durban, this project documents the emerging plant life in an urban environment and how these natural structures interact with urban structures. The project aims to reach into the consciousness of urban dwellers and increase an awareness of the rich natural biospheres that exist in an urban jungle. This exhibition will be placed in a public space within the Durban city centre, allowing Durban residents and visitors, as well as delegates to view the exhibition.

Heritage and exercise pocket parks (Local):

This proposed project consists of the conversion of two neglected grass verges into Pocket Parks. In the one, a garden with food and medicinal and other indigenous plants will be created. Recycled outdoor furniture as well as items such as hammocks and ‘brollies’ will be placed in the park during the day allowing the public to meet, relax and socialise in a green street park. In the other, a very basic outdoor exercise circuit using recycled and natural products such as tyres, wooden poles and tree stumps will be created, for the use of the general public. While this project is proposed by Cool Runnings, the eThekwini Municipality is also planning a number of exciting pocket parks across the city centre, and into the townships.

The Congress will bring together architects, design and built environment professionals, pioneers in urban planning and thinking, activists, city makers, academics and researchers, students, Government officials, decision makers and thought leaders, citizens and communities, to debate and discuss alternative strategies for the design and delivery of more habitable, functional and beautiful human settlements.

For more information or to register for the Congress, visit www.uia2014durban.org. Alternatively, find them on Instagram; follow them on Twitter or visit and like the Facebook page,here.