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Commuter Lounge on Campus

Part 1 Project 2010
Victor R Salzmann
University of the Free State Bloemfontein South Africa
A Commuter Lounge as an act of Moral Greatness

The Commuter Lounge Project is introduced onto our University’s torn landscape, as a palimpsest, mending layer. It will form the first of a network of future commuter lounge nodes within the varsity’s social fabric. The Lounge personifies an act of becoming common ground for all students of diverse race, gender, social and monetary groups to manifest and grow equally.

Our Country is still very much a torn landscape, even though great strides have been made to heal the scars. The social environment for the adolescent individual can be unbelievably harsh. Those that do manage to reach varsity, still often do not have the means to accomplish their dreams. The will of the student is overshadowed by the lack of support.

Many Commuter students can only afford to travel to and from varsity once day: whether finances dictate such a compromise or because the distance to varsity needs to be covered by foot. Classes are broken up and fragmented throughout the day and students often need to wait hours in-between classes.

Of all the students 87% commute. Commuter students have no common ground to casually socialize and interact. The stifling silent library and the noisy cafeteria obstruct spontaneous interacting and connecting.

The site is a no-man’s land that has mutated through time to become uninhabited and unclaimed by the individual: a popular place to students, and student traffic, but unsafe due to the lack of ownership. The site acts as a transitional space between a large parkinglot [commuters] and the Commercial Bridge[student hub] of the university.

Exploring the environment surrounding the site, the problems and the physical solutions are but the first steps of this projects marvel. This project was presented to the students, as a prospect to make a difference, to create hope in the lives of those that have no opportunity. It allows for a gathering platform where socializing students can generate future ideas.

The commuter lounge project transcends the tangible and lives surreally within concepts, ideas and dreams of the student.

Victor R Salzmann

This project was run in the third year studio with the Unit for Student Development (USD) acting as the client. Dr Strydom from the USD gave a presentation of their expectation of the project. A theoretical background was given by the lecturer. Creating a space where students could interact and form social structures was central to the project. From Dr Strydom’s presentation it was clear that one of the biggest challenges facing commuters is to establish a social environment that will lead to involvement in campus life. Most of the students that are unsuccessful failed to get involved.
With this project the student demonstrated his ability to understand both the physical environment in which the building has to function, as well as the social context. The project in its execution is supportive of all the ideas that drove the project. The student further demonstrated an advanced ability to thoroughly investigate and analyze the different contexts within which the building has to function and contribute to. His ability to step out of an environment and accurately perceive what is taking place on multiple levels around the site and especially on the site is remarkable. The levels on which the investigation and analysis of the site was done stands witness to a finely tuned, sensitive awareness that is developed well beyond what could be expected of a third year student.
The initial project was run over three days. From the projects submitted three were selected to be further developed for presentation to the USD, which acted as the client. There is a real interest in realizing this project and to get similar projects erected across the Campus of the University. After the presentation to the Unit for Student development a presentation to Top Management of the University was arranged by Dr Strydom. The three projects were presented to the Rector and the rest of his team and were received with great enthusiasm.
This project demonstrated an ability that went far beyond just meeting the criteria from the brief and therefore deserves to be entered for The President's Medals Student Awards.


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