“Early in my career I started to look at cultural and religious phenomena in Europe; wanting to understand how different religions would impact western society and how it would manifest architecturally,” said Italian architect Matilde Cassani in the first keynote address of the ArchitectureZA 2016 (AZA16) Festival. “I found that the metaphor of cultural difference is the driving force of change and shapes the image of the western city,” she adds, linking the scale of art and architecture to the quality of such cities.
With the aim of exploring and examining the neo-Classical, modern and contemporary spaces in and around Wits University, the AZA16 conference, taking place from 01 – 03 September 2016, hopes to use these spaces in the best possible ways to learn from other architects and spatial practitioners. Understanding scale is a fundamental skill of any architect; AZA16 reflects on this core skill by returning to the basics, presenting a programme filled with rich content, stimulating lectures, illuminating discussions and thought-provoking engagements.
Co-hosted by Wits and the South African Institute of Architecture (SAIA), the conference reflects recent critical thinking on the role of architecture and includes masterclasses, workshops, and presentations to address all points of scale.
Creative tables in and around the festival area allow delegates to dabble in the art of origami, model making and sketching – all while engaging with talented students and the many knowledgeable AZA16 speakers during their breakaway sessions. Parkour performances by Jump City Fitness and graffiti art developed by the Grayscale Gallery’s artists throughout the day are also two exciting urban activities to look out for at the conference.
AZA16 is a chance for delegates to share in the rescaling of South Africa’s cities. Panel discussions, professional practice sessions, documentary screenings, exhibitions and lunchtime tours are held each day. “There is something for everyone,” says Daniel van der Merwe, Architect at PPC, sponsors of AZA16. “The programme is structured as a series of keynote lectures interspersed with parallel sessions where delegates may typically choose between two design-orientated sessions and one professional practice session,” he continues.Delegates can look forward to discussions held by Dale Sinclair, Director of Technical Practice at AECOM based in the United Kingdom. His sessions include: ‘Moving Faster in a Digital World’, a bonus talk on why technology innovations will radically change the way we design in future, held on Friday, 02 September 2016; as well as ‘Leading the team’, a professional practice session looking at how radically different design and construction processes challenge architects, held on Saturday, 03 September 2016.
The second day will also see Joachim Declerck, Founder and Partner of the Architecture Workroom Brussels, focusing on innovation in architecture and urban design; as well as taking on many big questions around urban decay and reuse, housing and even finance through the media of strategic design. Taffy Adler, Director of the Braamfontein Urban Revitalisation Project at Wits will discuss the ‘Re-imagining Braamfontein’ programme, encouraging delegates to explore the vibrant and dynamic neighbourhood throughout the conference and thereafter.
“After the kickoff speech by Prof Adam Habib, invoking architects to take on the role of bridging between a hugely divided society and the becoming-inclusive city, delegates are beginning their journeys between scales,” says Hannah le Roux, Associate Professor and Director of the Architecture Programme at the University of Witwatersrand. “This is a conference at a big scale for our profession. We are thrilled that Wits is buzzing with experienced and young architects, with many choices to be had,” she concludes.