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Landscape Architecture Animation : A Cultural Gateway

Part 2 Project 2003
Estelle Smit
Marc Tracey
University of the Free State Bloemfontein South Africa

The theme of this study is the integration of landscape, architecture and animation. It investigates the ambiguous territories between the real world and the virtual world of Cyberspace. Through the use of various animation techniques, virtual space can be expressed. These animation principals and theories generate the framework that choreographs the kinematic sculpting of architectural form.

To link the idea of a virtual entity to a physical space, three Bushman Rock Art Sites, in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa were selected: Wildebeest Kuil, Driekops Eiland and Wonderwerk Cave. The choice was based on the theory that rock art, for the Bushman, was a physical manifestation of the threshold between their real world and the spiritual sphere.

The interaction with the rock surface is a way of reaching through the ‘veil’ suspended between this world and the world of the spirit. The engraving itself symbolised a gateway – a threshold into the other world. The specific characteristics of every site had an impact on how the rock art was perceived and in what way this cultural gateway between the real and the virtual were experienced.

In this study, the architectural form is generated through animation after the investigation into the topological geometries of every site. The proposed structure takes on the purpose of a Cultural Gateway - a kinematic sculpting of form between the ambiguous territory of the real and the virtual.

This Cultural Gateway does not simply act as a threshold or an introduction to different cultures, but also as an information guide to the interpretation of the geological and symbolic characteristics of every site. Through pathways and different routes, easy access must be given to visitors to experience and explore the context of a specific site. In this way the visitor can also symbolically interpret the site, the topology and the spiritual awareness of place.

Once the site contains both text and image, it is information rich and has the potential to become a powerful outdoor learning centre, not only for overseas visitors, but also for local travellers and especially for school children.

In essence it is about linking the place with its soul.

Estelle Smit
Marc Tracey

Tutor Statement
Landscape, Architecture and Animation.

The student chose to combine three of her passions in one project, a love for the semi-arid landscape near Kimberley in SA, architecture and computer animation. The cultural gateway is placed on a site with Khoi-San engravings. The cultural revival of this first people of the country is a very contemporary issue. Despite their age old, but well known rock engravings and paintings, very few people understand the San and what they painted. This project is an attempt at giving more insight into their rituals and understanding of their culture as depicted in the marks they left on the land.

As the San people used primitive tools of their times to leave a footprint on the landscape, Estelle used the computer and an animation software programme to create a contemporary footprint on the landscape. Using one of the engravings on the site, a graft was created and then animated to create a shelter on the site. A contemporary engraving with its origins deeply rooted in the culture of the site. The materials used are typical of this region and are of a temporary nature, e.g. a timber framework (typically of the type old airplanes were made of) covered with material dipped in resin . The building would in time also disappear and become one of the marks on the landscape.

Dr Paul Larmour
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