FRINGE MEETS DURBAN
By: Qiniso Mbili
As South Africa commemorates the 20th anniversary of its new beginning, the Union Internationale des Architects takes its 25th congress to Durban to celebrate African architecture.
UIA is a global network of architectural associations with the aim of uniting global architects. The 2014 congress aims to explore the role of architects in Africa towards equalizing social inequalities. The congress started on the 3rd of August and came to an end on 7 August.
Durbanites have been an audience of pleasant art displays situated in certain parts of their city over the last 7 days. These art installations and exhibitions range from artificial flower gardens to murals on the supporting columns of the freeway.
These exhibitions are part of a programme under the International Union of Architects World Congress (UIA2014) held at the International Convention Centre in Durban. A newsletter associated with the congress reveals that the programme is called “Fringe” and is aimed at stimulating dialogue around built environment issues and staging Durban as an “Otherwhere” destination.
Fringe is a stage for local, national and international talent triggering a different perception of Durban. Locals will see their own city through the eyes of both their fellow Durbanites and international artists. According to the newsletter, an “Otherwhere” destination is a living laboratory and testing ground for a place in which people can explore, shop, play and eat.
The congress was launched just a few days before its official opening on the 3rd of August. The launch saw the reduction of the upper portion of Dr Pixley KaSeme Street from four lanes into only two lanes to showcase how a pedestrian priority street would work. One of the exceptional exhibitions is the flower garden set up on the cut off bridge on Market road. The bridge is habitually used to trade mealies between sellers and their suppliers thus it has always been muddled with abandoned mealie wrappings. “I wish this would be permanent, it’s very beautiful,” said a curious Linda Rethman, a passerby who pulled her car over to see the temporary garden on the bridge in Market road.
Other awe-inspiring exhibitions under the Fringe programme are the six large scale murals on the walls of the supporting columns of the N3 freeway in the Warwick area. The murals are by an international artist by the name of Faith47 with the assistance of two other artists. The murals are portraits of some of the informal traders that trade around the Warwick area.
Have certain dreams for Durban? Head to the Nicol Square where you can write about your vision for Durban. Placards displaying public members’ anticipations and visions are put up on erected scaffolding. If you are interested, you might want to head there as quickly as possible since the congress ends on the 7th of August and the scaffolding might get removed any time after the 8th of August.