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Resuscitating Dead Fabric

Part 2 Project 2009
Edward Botha
University of Pretoria Pretoria South Africa
This university, as an ever changing institute of higher learning, celebrated its centenary in 2008. This occasion provided an ideal platform to rethinking its past and possible future. Past developments on campus have achieved constructive form; however, the proposed project is a search for and a reconstruction of that which has been lost. In this sense, it represents a projective timeline. Its approach is anchored in the past in order to project into the future.
Contextual research concludes that this university’s main campus is set within fixed boundaries which prevent further expansion in any direction. The current situation indicates that the main campus of this university aims to stay within its existing boundaries and to keep functioning as the heart of the institution, instead of attempting integration with the surrounding city fabric. The rate at which the number of first year students is increasing at this university is placing additional pressure on the existing infrastructure. The project explores a possible solution with regards to the future expansion of infrastructure and facilities, without losing the essence of campus life and sense of place currently experienced .Instead of destroying green spaces and exploiting more resources for expansion, perhaps the greater challenge is to adapt and improve existing buildings to generate benefits similar to those that new constructions would provide.
This project deals with a terminally ill building and the surrounding public spaces that display similar symptoms. Surrounding buildings function as isolated objects, with undefined open areas around and between them. The project aims to re-connect the lost space at the foot of the podium of the Humanities Building to the surrounding urban landscape. The thesis further investigates the Humanities tower as a somewhat outdated symbol of the university and looks into how this building can be adapted to represent the current zeitgeist. The investigation questions how the legibility of current elements and forms could be preserved whilst retaining the iconic qualities of the existing object. The proposed design aims towards a contemporary expression, by transforming one of the most iconic elements of this university campus into a visionary identity.

Edward Botha

This project focuses on the adaptive re-use of an existing landmark building, situated on the main campus of this university, in South Africa. The building once represented certain Modernist ideals, but is
currently labelled a sick building by its occupants. Within this context, Edward investigates possibilities, focussing on the boundary and its extension. The research question leads to the re-interpretation
of existing horizontal and vertical planes. The result is a new volumetric expression that allows light and air to penetrate previous dark and inhabitable spaces.

The design exploration is constantly informed by the existing. During the design process Edward uses freehand drawing, sculpturing techniques,video imaging and computer modelling. The design realises the poetic within pragmatic constraints. In addition, Edward manages the transition
between existing and new with maturity. The visitor might be unsure as to the extent of the designer’s involvement, and that makes the project successful. Through this project Edward opens possibilities and realises a ‘place to be’.


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