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Kirstenbosch Centenary tree canopy walkway / Mark Thomas Architects

  • Architects: Mark Thomas Architects
  • Location: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Architect in Charge: Mark Thomas, Christopher Bisset
  • Photographs: Adam Harrower

© Adam Harrower © Adam Harrower © Adam Harrower © Adam Harrower

House Liebmann / Daffonchio and Associates

  • Architects: Daffonchio and Associates
  • Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Principal Architect: Enrico Daffonchio
  • Project Architect: Leigh Maurtin
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Daffonchio and Associates

Courtesy of Daffonchio and Associates Courtesy of Daffonchio and Associates Courtesy of Daffonchio and Associates Courtesy of Daffonchio and Associates

House 02, Hyde Park / Daffonchio & Associates Architects

© Adam Letch © Adam Letch © Adam Letch © Adam Letch

House 01, Hyde Park / Daffonchio & Associates Architects

© Adam Letch © Adam Letch © Adam Letch © Adam Letch

Aloe Ridge House / Metropole Architects

  • Architects: Metropole Architects
  • Location: Pennington, South Africa
  • Design Architect: Nigel Tarboton
  • Project Architect: David Louis
  • Project Technician: Simon Wayne
  • Area: 300.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Grant Pitcher

© Grant Pitcher © Grant Pitcher © Grant Pitcher © Grant Pitcher

Students and Community Members Come Together to Construct Theater in Cape Town Township

The Guga S’Thebe Arts and Cultural Centre in Langa, Cape Town's oldest township, is expanding to include a theatre exclusively for children and adolescents. The main component of the theatre, set for completion this fall, will be a large, multi-functional space for hosting performances. The project, a collaborative effort between future users and international architecture students, is aimed at stimulating sustainable development while widening the possibilities for the target demographic. To check out more project images, continue after the break.   

In Images: South Africa's Stunning Treetop Walkway

The much anticipated Treetop Walkway through the Arboretum in Cape Town's Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is now open to the public. Located 11 metres above the ground, the galvanised steel and timber structure offers breathtaking views from the treetops. The project, a collaboration between Mark Thomas Architects and Henry Fagan & Partners consulting engineers, has been nicknamed Boomslang - a large, highly venomous African tree snake - due to its elevated, twisting form. Check out the stunning photographs by Adam Harrower, a horticulturist at the garden, after the break. 

© Adam Harrower © Adam Harrower © Adam Harrower © Adam Harrower

Spotlight South Africa: Three Designs Instilling Dignity & Defeating Stigma

Mamelodi Pod, a home and temporary soccer club with solar electricity and rain water harvesting. Image Courtesy of Architecture for a Change
Mamelodi Pod, a home and temporary soccer club with solar electricity and rain water harvesting. Image Courtesy of Architecture for a Change

How do you undo centuries of inequality? How do you overturn an inequality so ingrained in a culture that it manifests itself physically - in the architecture of its homes and in the misshapen nature of its cities? 

This is the question post-apartheid South Africa has been struggling to answer for the past twenty years. And while the government has made many concerted efforts, for far too many the situation has remained largely the same. 

However, there are currents of change afoot. Many who have been marginalized are now working to defeat the stigma and legitimize their communities, and they are enlisting architects to the fray. From an organization in Capetown that aims to transform the role of the South African designer, to another in Johannesburg that uses design to legitimize informal architecture, to a project in one of the most violent townships in South Africa that has transformed a community, the following three projects are making a difference for the users who have the most to gain from their designs and design-thinking. All three represent not only the power of design to defeat stigma and instill dignity, but also the power of communities to incite these projects, make them their own, and enable them to thrive.

Inside Johannesburg's Infamous Ponte City Tower

The history of Johannesburg's Ponte City Apartments is a provocative one: built in 1975 and designed by Manfred Hermer as the height of luxurious (white-only) living in South Africa, the continent's tallest residential building soon became a notorious vertical slum, filled with crime and poverty, its signature hollow core re-purposed as a trash dump and a suicide drop.

AISJ Aquatic Center / Flansburgh Architects

© Stephen O'Raw © Stephen O'Raw © Stephen O'Raw © Stephen O'Raw

Urban Think Tank Takes on Housing in South Africa's Townships

Despite 20 years of government promises to improve the quality of housing following the end of apartheid, for many in South Africa's townships there has been little noticeable change. This is not to say that the South African government has not been working to meet these goals; however, the scale of the problem is so large, and with population growth and migration, the challenge is only getting greater.

That's why Urban Think Tank, in collaboration with ETH Zurich and South African NGO Ikhayalami, have worked together on a design for a more immediate, incremental solution called "Empower Shack."

Heatherwick to Transform Cape Town's Grain Silo into Contemporary Art Museum

Imagine forty-two, 33 meter high concrete tubes each with a diameter of 5.5 meters, with no open space to experience the volume from within. The brief from the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) for London-based Heatherwick Studio was to "reimagine the Grain Silo Complex at Cape Town's V&A Waterfront with an architectural intervention inspired by its own historic character," calling for a "solution unique for Africa" in order to create "the highest possible quality of exhibition space for the work displayed inside." Heatherwick's response will be the creation of a "a new kind of museum in an African context."

The International School of Hout Bay / Luis Mira Architects + StudioMAS + Sergio Aguilar

  • Architects: Luis Mira Architects, StudioMAS, Sergio Aguilar
  • Location: Cape Town, South Africa
  • Design Team: Sean Mahoney (StudioMas), Michael Lumby (StudioMas), Charlton Botha (StudioMas), Sergio Aguilar (Plus Arquitectura), Katie Irvine and Luis Mira
  • Principal Agent: Luis Mira Architects
  • Area: 1610.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Wieland Gleich

© Wieland Gleich © Wieland Gleich © Wieland Gleich © Wieland Gleich

From Grain Silo to Shipping Container Student Housing

Inhabitat has just featured an unlikely new student housing project in Johannesburg: Mill Junction, a student complex that consists of two former grain silos topped with shipping containers. According to its developers, Citiq Property Developers, the energy and money-saving project re-directs money towards communal facilities, proving popular with students. As a result, Mill Junction, the second shipping-container housing project built by the Developers, may be the second of many more. More info at Inhabitat.

Architecture Otherwhere - Durban 2014

On the twentieth anniversary of South Africa’s re-birth, the UIA Congress will celebrate the African profession as a meaningful contributor to world architecture and thought leadership in city development; as well as the continent’s contribution in the affairs and evolution of architecture globally.

Finalist Proposal for First Public University in South Africa Since Apartheid

TC Design Architects have been announced as one of the four winners in a country-wide architectural competition to design the University of Mpumalanga in Nelspruit, the first public university in South Africa since the end of Apartheid. Of 147 architectural practices, the Department of Higher Education and Training has narrowed the pool of entries down to TC Design, Conco Bryan Architects, Cohen and Garson, and Gapp Architects & Urban Designers.

More on TC Design's proposal after the break…