The purpose of this study is to investigate ritual in order to establish an intimacy between architecture and its users. The lithurgy of the Roman Catholic Church is used as a point of departure, but the study is especially concerned with personal secular ritual. The intervention will function as an urban retreat. It consists of a series of contemplative spaces that facilitate a spiritual journey. The Retreat is based on ideas surrounding the traditional Roman Catholic Convent, which informed the accommodation schedule to a great extend. The study recognizes the new approach of the Roman Catholic Religion, which entails a holistic ministry that plays an increasingly critical and social role. The Retreat will therefore function as a base for religious and social organizations to work from in the inner-city of Pretoria. The retreat will also offer limited social facilities such as counselling and seminar rooms. The site is situated in the inner-city of Pretoria, in the block directly north-east of Church Square. The site consists of two properties: the northern consists of the National Library of South Africa (NLSA), with the southern being a pan-handle erf that functions as a service courtyard for commercial ventures on Church Street. The Noordvaal thoroughfare runs parallel to the site on its western edge, linking Church and Vermeulen Streets. The site exists unnoticed by pedestrians using the arcade, because of a boundary wall. Of further importance is the 2,8 m slope of the site from south to north over a distance of 140 m. The project directly addresses urban issues as well as spatial and emotional ones. The intervention is seen as part of a process of architectural proliferation. It takes the existing fabric and current conditions and rather than replacing them, creates a synthesis of elements so as to evolve a new urban condition; i.e. how to grow a piece of city rather than how you build it. Design decisions were influenced by Pallasmaa's ideas on fragile architecture: it is concerned with real sensory interaction instead of conceptual manifestations. Problems and opportunities are identified on a small scale and the response is focussed on these: it is an architecture that grows and opens up.
Dissertation (MArch (Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2005.