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Between memory and Hope | Land Claims Court | Hillborw, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Part 2 Project 1999
Julie Frank
University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg South Africa



Two primary investigations intertwined to inform and inspire this scheme. The initial investigation
entailed an exploration through precedent and preference into how we build and design to remember
and evoke emotion while simultaneously inspiring a pro-active response in the participant. A
structure of memory is a comment in the present, evoking a
memory of the past, while encompassing hope for the future.

Memory can only be elicited through an architecture of sensibility; architecture which transcends the
hegemony of the eye and engages all five senses, enticing and employing taste, touch, sound, smell
and sight as receptacles to the experience. Furthermore it requires visceral response - a reaction formed
in the inner-most muscles of our bodies.

The body needs to engage with the architecture - the architecture must encompass, facilitate and
challenge the viewer to evoke responses which build embodied experience. Materiality, views and non-
views, solid and void intertwine with dynamic light to create an architecture of memory. The building
in sited on a site layered with irony - a piece of land bisected by the 'randjeslaagte' line- the oldest
cadastral diagram and trace of colonial memory in the city. The usage of a time-line employs a level
of directness - establishing a common datum and rendering the memorial accessible to all.

Thus theory and precedent combine within site, subject and specifics, to create a permanent place of
memory for those denied a permanent place to live.

Julie Frank

Julie Frank


TOPICAL THINKING - framed the discourse for the 1998 THESIS B. Arch program. Although 'design discourse' in the Department of Architecture is directed at independent inquiry, current investigations by thesis candidates have tended to reflect the events and concerns in the contemporary SA city. The city, as perhaps the highest form of built human expression, therefore, becomes a natural locus for speculation and thinking topically. Individual topics have been specifically identified through a process of research around issues of transformation in relation to emerging political processes, as well as to contemporary architectural theory. In particular, the critique of type and its associative limitations in relation to the assumptions and certainty associated with the position have predominated. The discretionary influence of both precedent and the linear method promoted by this departments conception of architectural history demands direct confrontation. Site and Program have been interpreted as verbs demanding a researched and argued uncovering of 'siting and programming' as core design generators. These issues have been re-interpreted through a 'narrative process' whereby interactive exercises sought to provoke difference and effect new sets of social arrangements. Consequently, process is privileged above that of final product, in an attempt to overturn the other hegemony of material culture which seems to be the predominant global value. Phenomenal experience and temporal possibility have become checks for developing a thoughtful and resilient material culture within the architectural inquiry.

'Between Memory and Hope' has been selected as a project which operates within the conventions of building as urban and programmed type. Addressing the historic disenfranchisement of apartheid legislation this 'Land Claims Court' is critically inserted in the heart of Hillbrow. As the most urbane neighbourhood in South Africa, the siting and timeline strategy represent a critical intervention whose dual phenomon contribute to the work of transformation in the city and nation alike.

1999
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