ChangeMaker Day 2017 at Kearsney College
Recently, Lead Architects were invited by TURAKO Transformation Strategists to exhibit our work at the ‘ChangeMakers Day’ at Kearsney College. This was a great opportunity to meet and engage with some inspiring South African ChangeMakers, but also to explore what it means to be a ChangeMaker. Encouraging young learners to use their careers to make a difference in our imbalanced world and not only seek out a career that enriches them, is what the day was all about, the theme being – ‘I am Legacy’. Korabo Mokoape was the lead speaker for the day – and urged the boys to change the world by tackling the difficult things. Aubrey Mnisi spoke about the internet as a tool for change, Richard Dobson about Urban Interventions and his son Blaise about climate change and how to push on without becoming overwhelmed by the challenges. Finally Chester Konyana, Manager of Liv Village spoke about ‘rescue, restore, raise and release’ the mission of the village for orphans that he manages near Verulam. The Lead Architects team visited Liv Village a week later and saw the work for ourselves – wonderful !
Our exhibition showcased most of our work, but particularly the work we do in disadvantaged communities and schools. We also created a design challenge for the boys – something they could work with to help them understand the importance of process and contextual drivers in the design process. The game was inspired by the project we had recently completed – an Early Childhood Development Centre in Molweni constructed mainly out of containers. A lot of fun was had and eyes were opened as to how Architecture can make a difference.
The idea for the game was primarily to experience design. We professionals know, but perhaps laypeople don’t, Architecture is largely about the process of responding to physical, social and cultural contexts.
We had to ask ourselves, how could we convey this fundamental message? How could we shift the focus towards process driven contextual architecture, and away from the ocularcentric, fashionable “iconic” architecture which permeates through mass media through memes.
One of the ways to bring context to the fore of design thinking was to build it into the design challenge. The idea is simple. Participants would choose from a range of contexts (road, urban city block, park/wilderness, and beach) and place them as they wished along the 4 boundaries of the site. Every combination offers a new set of variables to respond to, and of course when orientation is thrown in the mix, even more possibilities emerge. By engaging with context, other questions regarding urbanism, ecological sensitivity, and the rights to the city (to mention a few) begin to surface.
Left: Participant’s Design of a Market. Right: Kearsney Boys designing with containers
Once context is determined, architectural design begins. We provided 1:100 scale models of shipping containers (to add to the fun factor), but also because they subtly introduce the ideas of modular design and recycling. For the design challenge, these were the following options:
- Community Development Centre – include a health clinic, internet café, skills workshops, counseling, satellite municipal services/SAPS, food garden, performance area and sports facilities.
- Early Childhood Development Centre – include facilities for children ages 2-5, including toilets, kitchen, admin, veggie garden, classrooms and recreational outdoor space.
- A Market – include retail space, storage, ablutions, recycling facilities, public outdoor space for spontaneous performances.
- For the Brave – Design whatever you want. Invent your own typology and function. Make sure to include a written description of your spaces and functions.
Admittedly the choices are quite complex, but that didn’t seem to prevent the boys from going all in and making it work. It is now our intention to develop and adapt this game further, as we believe there is potential to turn it into a user participatory design tool for young and old.
Left: Participant’s Design of an inner city Cafe Right: Participant’s Design of a Beach Cafe