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Global - E - Advertising

Part 2 Project 2001
Bronwen Whitcombe
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Port Elizabeth South Africa
Global - E - Advertising
An Electronic Multimedia Advertising Facility

"If the 1980s were about quality and the 1990s were about reengineering, then the 2000s will be about velocity,” these are the words of Bill Gates."

The Design Proposal

The velocity that Gates refers to above relates to all aspects of our daily lives. The speed at which business will change, the speed of information access and its influence on our daily lifestyles as consumers. Specialised retail and advertising is becoming increasingly more popular through the Internet. E – commerce is currently the fastest growing retail zone in our global economy. South Africa’s information driven consumerism is escalating into a multi-billion Rand industry.

This thesis proposed to capitalise on this potential and to design a state-of-the-art electronic multimedia advertising facility. This would be a multi-disciplinary facility encompassing all aspects of electronic advertising, from telecommunications, to broadcast TV, to the Internet and beyond. The scope of this design was not limited to South Africa but was seen as a point of departure for South Africa’s global electronic advertising industry.

The concept

At the start of the 21st Century traditional notions of architecture such as permanence and stability are no longer enough to validate a design. At this time architecture is concerned with many other factors, namely: virtuality, ephemerality, image, interconnection, events, layering and polylogue.

Within the local context, the facility has three basic objectives:

1. To create an urban figure in a dispersed modern city and thereby become an icon for electronic multimedia advertising and an expression of the dynamic nature of cyberspace.

2. To create public awareness of South Africa’s place within the global advertising industry.

3. To be utilised as a new office paradigm and a tool for the local and global industry.

These objectives pose several challenges, the most important of which was to create a balance between physical reality and the virtual realm. Virtuality proposes a new form of fluid existence. The building layers are folded to allow the user the opportunity of interacting with the building as though moving in cyberspace.

Time is transient! Architecture in the age of the image will be involved increasingly with the construction of technology, including the new computerised processes already altering building and design. The architectural expression is therefore twofold: Ephemerality and image. Firstly, the building must be flexible to accommodate the constant change in both the technology of hyper-reality and the dynamic function of advertising in society. Secondly, it must become an ‘anti-building’: The roof plane will be folded to become the building facades and in this way, a shell containing the internal spaces. Sections of the building shell will become a continuous framework for semitransparent advertisements and media events.

Combined with the interactive potential of the facade and the constant movement of people through the building, it becomes a city event. The building reflects the work produced by the agency, allowing the building shell to become an advertisement itself.

In this way, electronic facades become both enclosure and spectacle and reverse all expectations of what is wall and what is electronic image. A new urban relationship is set up based not on the static composition of building mass, but on the condition of temporal images, interaction and hyper reality, thereby enhancing the concept:


Because in this case, the building is the medium of communication and exchange and the medium is the message.

The building becomes a shell within which a series of tectonic 3D forms are placed. The resulting leftover space creates interconnection between these physical nodes and implies inter, middle and in-between. It is this in-between that becomes the event-based-interaction space. It becomes the vital integrating factor of the whole and the overall spatial experience generator, not simply a transition from one node to the next. This reflects the dynamics of human interaction, the workings of an advertising agency and electronic multimedia itself.

Bronwen Whitcombe

Global-E-Advertising – An Electronic Multimedia Advertising Facility: Cape Town: Republic of South Africa

The five year architectural programme at this school comprises two programmes of study: a three year undergraduate course and a two year post graduate course leading to the Bachelor of Architecture professional degree. The final year Design requirements are: a semester project of the student’s own choice; a model; a comprehensive research document containing site selection and contextual plans at a scale of 1:500; concept development sketches; plans at a scale of at least 1:200; section to the same scale as the plans; at least one detailed section at a scale of not smaller than 1:50; Schedule of Accommodation and a Design Report. The proposals are developed under the tutelage of Studio Masters and external critics. These are submitted for examination towards the end of the academic year. Each student presents and explains his/her project to a panel consisting of six external (both from practice and other academic institutions) and six internal examiners. The evaluation period normally runs over three days, involving approximately 35 students.

Bronwen's project was awarded the best overall project (2000) with a pass mark of 85%.

Bronwen's “Global E Advertising project was regarded as among the best thesis projects submitted at our Department in 2000. Bronwen tackled the design challenges she faced with great flair and came up with a highly imaginative building. The social aspects of the building are well considered and the space making is sophisticated. The building mass is well manipulated and technically finely resolved. She produced evocative drawings and a beautiful model to communicate her ideas. The design is supported by a well-crafted document that thoroughly explores the topic. The graphic quality of the document set new standards for students to come.

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