THOMAS CHAPMAN & NJABULO PHEKANI
'Architects do not solve problems and therefore are not helpful to society. What architects should be doing is to define and develop their own discipline.' - Peter Eisenman, 2011. Originate: On the Merits of being a Generalist (as opposed to a Specialist). In becoming generalists at ease with mainstream economics and politics, architects have the potential to originate projects that both respond to a social need and are attractive to private investment. Adopting the moniker, ‘Bloody Agents’, (a reference to politicians such as Julius Malema’s suspicion of the private sector), Unit 11 takes the stance that the only space for architects to exercise agency in the origination of projects is in the private economic sphere. Innovate: Architectural Innovation in Upward Social Mobility. In most socially-transformative projects, programme plays a far more significant role than spatial or tectonic innovations. For example, an innovative curriculum in a standard classroom has far more transformational potential than a standard curriculum in an innovative classroom. However, this is not the case with housing. By testing historical typologies like the New York tenement block and the Singapore HDB in the Johannesburg landscape, Unit 11 will generate projects which bring together the mass-rental and sectional title silos of our housing sector through innovations in temporality, adaptability and place-making. Implement: Architect-as-Developer . . . and the problem is? With Carel Kleynhans, a seasoned Johannesburg economist and developer as Unit 11’s resident critic, Major Design Projects in Unit 11 will include detailed economic feasibility studies which test proposals against the political and economic realities of our time. Project reviews throughout the year will thus largely take the form of ‘pitches’ to a panel of potential project funders.