Writers and Critics Workshop: Energising Writers

September 21, 2018adminMedia

A Writers and Critics workshop was held in support of the Journal of the South African Institute of Architects. The achievements of this workshop include identifying the journal’s purpose, acknowledging the obstacles faced by those who may wish to write for it and proposing solutions

For over a hundred years, The Journal of the South African Institute of Architects (in its various guises) has served South African architects and architectural academics. However, this considered, as a critical and informed journal it has a wider duty. Professor Roger Fisher, facilitator of the workshop, shares his views:

As image and text often outlive buildings or remain the only evidence of architectural intention it is critical for architects to record their work, ideas, and imaginings so that they can confidently own and create a legacy of our own time and place. To do this, architects, in all their diversity, need to work collectively to share their achievements. The Journal of the South African Institute of Architects provides an ideal platform for this purpose. However, in our own time, a greater diversity of architects and academics need to contribute to the journal to ensure greater representation.

Thus, the Writers and Critics Workshop, initiated by SAIA and sponsored by PPC, was piloted in Bloemfontein the day after this year’s Thirtieth Sophia Gray Memorial lecture with Professor ‘Ora Joubert as Laureate.

More about the Workshop

One of the main focuses of the workshop is to overcome the perception that writing is difficult. However, the multi-faceted nature of language and its writing needs to be acknowledged and mastered.

While many architects would like to contribute to their profession through writing, some may find it an insurmountable obstacle. Unlike speech and language, for which we are anatomically equipped and for which we have an innate instinct and learn spontaneously from the cradle, writing is challenging both from a mental and psychological perspective. Perhaps, because architecture is an intensely personal discipline, architects may fear losing the magic of their creation by writing about it, particularly if not gifted to do so. This challenge is further compounded by the fact that architecture is also a remote and abstract artform, making it difficult to capture its essence in words.

Despite these challenges, local architects need to persevere and draw on the language that we all speak, namely drawing and images as a scaffold for critical thinking elucidated through plain text. The workshop assisted in allaying the fears of the younger attendees, by indicating ways of taking personal ownership of their own perspectives and stances. They felt encouraged to submit their work for critique and future consideration for inclusion in the Journal.

While there is intense competition for a voice globally, the Journal of the Institute of South African Architects remains authoritative and respected. It is crucial for architects to engage with each other and share their views, for which this publication remains an ideal local vehicle.

The South African Institute of Architects trusts that more workshops of this nature will be held nationally so as to broaden the contributions to SAIA’s journal both geographically and demographically and thus ensure the receipt of copy and correspondence from all the South African regions for publication.



Enlightend: Attendees of the Writers and Critics Workshop together with Professor Roger Fisher, back row, third from left.