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When I returned to Poland after my my 4-month stay in South Africa within international student exchange programme ERASMUS I have started working on my masters diploma project. The work took more than 6 months to create an intercultural urban structure in a South African metropolis. The project consists of three levels of design: CITY| DISTRICT| BUILDING. This work was an extension of my personal memories of Africa its lifestyle that I had the opportunity to experience tangibly through the taste, sound, touch, smell and other senses. The project not only responds to the issue of a multicultural society but also touches on the borderline of the perception of African cities, defined as the most dynamic, vibrant and places of new architectural typologies and innovative technologies.
MEGASTRUCTURES IN DURBAN
As a As a result of the apartheid policy in use until 1994 the South African cities were shaped by a policy of racial segregation, resulting in the development of homogeneous urban structures. Nowadays, these districts are still separated from each other, creating monocultural urban satellites with a specific character of given social groups. The answer to improving the conditions for better circulation of society in the metropolitan area of DURBAN has became the vision of creating megastructures. This project is not only a way of presenting the innovative migration of society in one of the African cities, but also a symbol of the freedom of the South African community.
CREATING A CONCEPT
In order to create a response to the question of how to shape a healthy, intercultural environment in a South African city, a number of studies have been undertaken on site recognition, design thesis, case studies as well as manual work on material models and posters. By using material models, I easily understood some of the dependencies of a pluralistic city created by the community of white-skinned, dark-skinned, Indian-origin and Coloureds (mixed-origin people).
The theories proclaimed by ANNA HERINGER about creating the identity of local communities and the statements of SOMIK LALL, who accurately defined the economic problems of African continent cities, had a huge impact on the idea of the project. In order to understand the specificity of African cities, the project SHANTY MEGA-STRUCTURES IN LAGOS created by OLALEKAN JEYIFOUS and the work of SIMBA MAFUNDIKWA or the project done by GöKATAS, ABDELLATIF, KARABACAK become a reflection. All these works were used in the first visualization of my project. The last case study is WARWICK JUNCTION, a local communication hub in Durban. The daily circulation is around 460,000 people according to Wikipedia. What I have already described on the blog: DURBAN II. Phil Wood’s book “Intercultural Cities” and my own research essay prepared during my study at DURBAN UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY have bacame the base for creating the rules of intercultural design. The conclusions at this stage are four main pillars of creating intercultural cities: SOCIAL STRUCTURE| ECONOMIC SYSTEM| ACTIVIZATION FACTORS| POLICY PROGRAMME. Due to the specificity of designing in an African city, the answer is to create a model of PERMANENT| TEMPORARY| FLEXIBLE spaces.
MASTERPLAN OF THE INTERCULTURAL DISTRICT
The project of the new district includes a diverse programme of housing, workplaces, common spaces and creative places where future users will have a significant influence on the final appearance of these spaces through participation. Examples of such places in the project include creative containers or taxis-food trucks where students together with local companies will make products and cyclical events. That may become a new innovative way of creating temporary spaces. The first level of the megastructure in Stamford has become the platform for communication, migration and African mobility in the project. In a city where until 1994, there was a strict law restricting the stay of certain social groups in particular zones.
In order to help to communicate and build an intercultural language it was necessary to create universal structures related to a given lifestyle – in this case the academic lifestyle. In the urban planning project a technology park was designed and a conceptual design for a student house was developed as a model solution for the new district.
This project is a response to how new intercultural structures should be created which may result in a UNIVERSAL| PARTICIPATION| INTERACTION| HARMONY. The project in Stamford was born out of a passion which I am so proud of. The supervisor of my master’s diploma project was dr inż. arch. Gabriela Rembarz who controlled the whole process of creating design thought. Additionally, I had the opportunity to present the project during the Baltic Science Festival organized at the Gdansk University of Technology and during the international urban workshops AGORA organized in Lincoln (United Kingdom). My master’s diploma project was the subject of discussion among the representatives of universities (Durban University of Technology, University of Lincoln, Mimar Sinan Fine Art University – Istanbul) – for which I thank my supervisor Gabriela Rembarz. I would also like to thank the professors from other universities for their support and great discussion: Louis du Plessis, Deborah Whelan, Kyria van Soelen, Adem Erdem Erbas and many other people involved in the project. The reviewer of my master’s diploma project is dr hab. inż. arch. Jacek Krenz, prof. nadzw. PG.
PS: Let’s hope for more equally ambitious projects in life!