In Mabopane’s core, designers have, in an idealistic, static and utopian fashion, created environments for a society that does not exist, which has resulted in a tension between formal environments and informal activities. Because of the nature of formal institutions, informality (which is the backbone of identity of place) is suffering and being encroached upon by formal developments. In reality, in all formality lies some informality, and vice
versa. The intention is not to formalise the informal or informalise the formal, but rather to create a hybrid space where the two extremes (which are dependent on each other for survival) can co-exist and form a symbiotic relationship. How does one create this landscape of co-dependence? The answer is firstly sought in a programmatic approach .
An apprenticeship workshop inherits current site activities and forges a new relationship between the two extremes by sourcing the by-products of retail from the formal structure (i.e. the shopping centre) and utilising the evident resource effi ciency of the community in order to solve a series of urban problems. The programme consists of two branches: the larger product manufacturing (where a current modular housing system with added recycled insulation is produced); and the smaller workshops (where fi ner crafts are practised, such as sewing and mending). These spaces are aimed at creating social,
economic and knowledge-exchange environments. The programme is used as a vessel to illustrate the concept that three types of spaces are required: the necessary, the optional and the spontaneous. The programme is designed in such a way that it compliments existing activities, introduces new ones where necessary and capitalises on established networks. The built form is thus required to create a hybrid landscape of exchange. In order to create this landscape, a visual language is extracted from the context, deciphered and applied to the proposed site and activities. The designer is only capable of creating the formal and not in control of the informal, but one can learn from the fabric by deciphering some of the visible patterns on how to create successful space. This understanding of “anonymous architecture” aims to stimulate the narrative between the two extremes. By examining the context, understanding what works and why it works in that specifi c way, a decision on what formal intervention is needed, could be supported to compliment and refl ect the dynamic properties of the context. This familiarity of form is used to create an architecture that is region specifi c in its message and use.
Dissertation (MArch(Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2015.