Unit 15X, in the University of Johannesburg’s Graduate School of Architecture, explores emerging public open spaces of cities in Africa. Over the last four years Unit15X has investigated public open space projects in three African cities –Johannesburg, Kampala and Dar es Salaam. Unit15X’s observations suggest that design studies of public open space are essential in contemporary Africa, because public open spaces offer life-changing opportunities as people migrate from rural to urban settlements. Unit15X views public open spaces as places: places of transaction, recreation, expression and invention. Our theme for 2019 centres around the critical investigation of emergent ‘larval’ public open spaces in Africa. Our interest is to reimagine and re-define public space beyond the traditional modernist/ Eurocentric ideals of places designed for relaxation, visual enjoyment or of “offering respite from the indoor environment for the working class”.
We are convinced that in Africa public spaces have multiple functions and meaning. Through an engaged action research methodology, Unit15X aims to develop a deeper understanding of the interaction of a variety of social and environmental forces that contribute to the complex experiences of public open spaces.
Action research methodology enables a collaborative engagement that empowers all active partners interested in improving and developing public open spaces in urban contexts – students, architects, urban designers, engineers, community leaders, street vendors, and the general public. By critical and collective reflection on the historical, socio-political and ecological contexts of open spaces, new sustainable designs for public spaces can be proclaimed. This critical approach entails challenging the traditional curriculum of architectural education and involves searching for innovative ways to teach and learn about public open spaces, about architecture and about the larval nature of urban environments
08 AUGUST 2019
Bunting Road Campus
University of Johannesburg
Wine Bar: 18h00
Welcome Note & Talk: 18:30 – 19:15
Q & A: 19:15 – 19:45