ARCHITECTS CONGRESS IN FULL SWING AT ICC
By: Khanyisani Dlomo
Durban is a hive of activity as the 25th International Union of Architects World Conference is in full swing, with architects debating their common concerns and interests through an unashamedly African lens.
The Congress, hosted at the International Conventions Centre, seeks to celebrate diversity by exploring communities, regions, disciplines, and other ways of thinking about, practicing and teaching architecture.
Educational projects and structures built around the city could be seen in places such as Warwick Junction, Berea Centre, Dr Pixley kaSeme Street and the Rachel Finlayson swimming pool. At the ICC, architects, visitors and exhibitors from around the world could be seen busy attending debates and garnering as much information as they can.
“Architects have a very critical responsibility in social development,” said eThekwini Mayor, James Nxumalo.
“They work in an industry that deals with issues of providing housing and infrastructure, something which is closely related to issues of human rights,” Nxumalo told delegates on Monday.
“Environments which respect the ecology work with nature and are economically and socially responsible. To achieve a balanced architecture, we need to ensure that architects put people at the centre of their thinking,” Nxumalo said.
The sub-themes of the congress are: Resilience – the emergence of life strategies by communities, poverty and alleviation and the spatial economy. Ecology – evaluating roles of architects with respect to ecology, time and evolution. Values – evaluating practice and teaching and installing new values and relationships.
Public Works Minister, Thulas Nxesi said for Sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa to grow and prosper, a paradigm shift in creatively thinking about these and other challenges needs to occur.
“We need to be working together – as architects, planners, governments and the private sector – working with communities to upgrade human settlements and to create safe liveable environments,” Nxesi said.
“We also have to address the depletion of natural resources – particularly water in our case – and environmental degradation, as well as the effects of globalisation on the built environment.
“From the side of government, these growing challenges demand that we engage with the architects, planners and designers to redefine how we interpret the built environment.”