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A Travelling Performing Arts Pavillion

Part 2 Project 2000
Melanie Alston
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Port Elizabeth South Africa
Today, South Africa is a country where the energy of transformation is palpable and change is embraced. Unfortunately, it is generally accepted that South Africa faces serious problems. The planning to 1994 had been dominated by the ideology of apartheid - particularly the concern with the separation of people and their activities.

Many communities lack basic facilities and while local authorities are placing emphasis on housing, job creation and other economic needs, very little is done about the arts. The importance of culture in a community development context cannot be ignored. The arts are an integral part of life and have an important role to play in the cultural enrichment and general upliftment of a community.

The aim is to create a Travelling Performing Arts Pavilion that brings the excitement, entertainment and upliftment of our rich and diverse cultural heritage to all South Africans.

The basic idea was formulated after researching schemes similar in nature. The underlying concept is that the building must not impose on the community; that it must have minimal impact on sensitive sites; that it must be flexible; that it must be lightweight in construction; that it must embody experience and that it must bring about interaction and participation of people and activities.

Factors determining the design of the pavilion where such as materials (strong, durable and light enough for easy transportation and assembly), construction time, transportation (the structure will be transported by road in a number of sections, each not exceeding a length of 12,5m and a width of 2,5m) and size (the size is mainly determined by the seating capacity, the type of production and volume required, and whether the facility is to cater for other uses).

Melanie Alston


Final year thesis design.

The student recognized that while local and regional authorities and other instances are placing the emphasis for development and upliftment on housing, job creation, health services, education and other economic needs, very little is done about the arts in South African society. In order to determine the extent of this void she undertook extensive field research and discovered there exists ample opportunity in this respect for breaking down barriers, to reach out and celebrate the unique, diverse and dynamic qualities of her society.

Her project, the Rainbow People's Travelling Performing Arts Pavilion required a number of functional components, deployable and demountable, in order to be transported to any suitable designated site. The building will be transported by road in a number of sections, each not exceeding a length of 12,5m, as required by the Transport Act.

The brief includes:
* An enclosed performance space, comprising stage and auditorium, capable of flexible seating arrangements.
* An open air performance space.
* An enclosed/semi-enclosed public assembly space comprising a foyer, coffee bars, reataurant and kitchen, as well as ablution facilities.
* Service spaces to include performers' accommodation, storage and maintenance, production and administration.
* Portable services.

A 'Kit of Parts' of different elements was developed in the design process, to be used together or separately as needed by the performers or the community and as dictated by the specific site, the time available for assembling and dismantling the parts, the funds available and the specific climate of a particular region. For the purposes of the thesis three different sites were selected according to criteria of exposure, reinforcement/clustering, association with existing public spaces, accessibility and geographical and physical limits.

The structure of the pavilion and the various compounts is innovative and carefully thought through in the overall design, the detail design and all structural aspects. The architectural presentation is of a very high order.

The project responds more than adequately to current voids in the cultural development of communities in the country, especially in the deprived rural areas. It offers multi-faceted opportunity for self-expression, fulfillment and upliftment in a unique architectural context.

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