Unit 2 (Osman, Bennett, Toffa)



Unit 2 is based on the understanding that the Built Environment comes into existence and transforms as a social/physical ecosystem where buildings and neighborhoods are never finished, but rather transform part by part. At the core of this Unit, are concepts which include levels of decision-making (such as urban design and architecture); distributed control of environmental decision-making among many different agents; and the idea that the interface between technical systems allows the replacement of one system with another performing the same function.

These concepts will be studied from building/neighborhood project-level to city/policy higher-level decision-making. The unit will apply socio-technical approaches, methodologies & tools/toolkits in community engagement projects as well as study existing and new building types known by their capacity to accommodate a variety of changing uses. Unit 2 is based on the premise that “open” buildings are not tightly integrated with programmes of use and are able to offer architectural infrastructure of sustained architectural quality, as well as spatial and technical capacity.

This unit links strongly with current international trends in thinking about the built environment. International case studies will be presented. Indeed, one of the aims of this Unit is to demonstrate that Open Building is highly relevant to South Africa – and that South Africa may become the pioneer for Open Building in developing countries.

To help promote the intentions of Unit 2, one student will be offered an opportunity to travel to Zurich, Switzerland, to the ETH Wohnforum – ETH CASE which will be hosting the 2015 Open Building Conference in September. The intentions of Unit 2 also resonate strongly with present-day South African concerns. National policy, the National Development Plan, Vision 2030 and the newly launched (and perhaps wrongly termed) Master Spatial Plan will be considered, as well as city level visions.

There will also be a number of inter-departmental collaborations within FADA/UJ. Unit 2 will explore the boundaries between architecture & planning, building & city and architecture & infrastructure towards a new way of designing and building in the interest of of spatial equity, access to opportunity, efficiency in design, finance, management, maintenance and implementation.

Unit 2 offers an exceptional opportunity to engage with a national and international network of thinkers/practitioners in the field of Open Building, Urbanism and Human Settlements – an engagement that spans across South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, Lebanon and the USA.