Next Project

We declare a Third World War against individual rights. To be means to belong.

Part 1 Project 1999
Gregg Cornforth & Andrea Richards
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | South Africa
African culture and traditions have existed for thousands of years, but recently have reached a point of near extinction. The Western culture which has come to dominate the world scene, can be held largely responsible for this. The Western civilization, with its age of computers, television, nuclear warefare, nuclear global pollution, discoveries in the field of biogenetics, has supersceded earlier agricultural and industrial eras and is faced with major world problems such as the threat of unknown diseases and overpopulation. In order to cope with such an age and the possible future it holds, Western people need to assess their current situation and can look to the African people for guidence in understanding themselves and each persons responsibility to the whole.

The contemporary Western culture has become so caught up in individual rights to an extent that the right to belong, humankind's most basic need, has been forgotten. The most devastating disease then is loneliness. Westerners will realize this essential problem and gain a better understanding of their role as human beings if they attempt a reconciliation with their fellow human beings in traditional societies.

For African people, the community on the whole has primacy, since it is understood to have become before the individual. The commmunity is the arena for human interaction which is the crucial requirement for the maintenance of order and balance within the group. It remains the responsibility of each person individually to maintain this holistic unity. Because life is something communal, it can only be manifested properly in a network of interdependencies between persons and community. Life-in-community perceeds birth and extends beyond death, the individual merely participates in different ways. The African pattern is life-affirming and life-sustaining.

Gregg Cornforth & Andrea Richards

The brief for the project called for a response to the question of how cultural tourism, through architectural intervention, could be made into a more complete and fulfilling experience than is the norm.

Andrea and Gregg adopted a multi-faceted approach to this problem, based on community involvement, historical links and nature.

They identified a poor community on the outskirts of Port Alfred, a popular holiday resort. This community had the desire to welcome foreign tourists to the traditional and cultural events which regularly take place in their township. These events were analysed and proved to have the potential to become a tourist route.

This route was extended to the nearby deserted but historically significant 2nd World War flying school. The old buildings were incorporated into the scheme to provide craft workshops, selling stalls and performance venues. This was done with respect for the old structures, and sensitivity so as not to alienate either local or tourist.

The third element in the proposal was that of nature. The vegetation on the site was analysed, and a decision made to use the indigenous coral tree, erithrina caffra, to define the tourist route. This tree is spectacular when in flower in early spring, and provides welcome shade in the hot summer months. This should prove to be a most effective way of identifying the route and its attractions when the township is viewed from the high ground of the old air school.

In summary the scheme was selected because it identified and attempted to solve a real life situation through dialogue with the community and the incorporation of existing community activities combined with the recycling of historical buildings and the sensible and sensitive use of indigenous trees.

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