Architectural historian and theorist Beatriz Colomina, from Princeton University, is among the speakers at this year's ArchitectureZA 2015 (AZA2015) event, taking place at The Sheds @ 1 Fox in Newtown, Johannesburg from 24-26 September 2015.
Colomina's work on architecture and media has been published in over 25 languages and her curated exhibition, Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X-197X, has toured eleven countries, including exhibitions such as Documenta 12 and The Architectural Association.
Colomina is expected to speak about the new thinking around biology and architecture, particularly the potentials of neuroscience. She is currently working on a book, titled X-Ray Architecture, which focuses on the impact of medical technologies on architecture.
"The most important transformation in social and cultural life since 2000 has been the arrival of social media and a culture of surveillance. This has enormous consequences for architecture; what is regarded as being private and what is public has been radically transformed," says Colomina.
The architect's chief role, according to Colomina, is to make people think about the space they live in. With these latest major social transformations, a designer also has to rethink the way problems are framed. "Everything needs to be rethought in light of the population explosion and information explosion and the way our lives have been transformed with the internet and social media," says Colomina.
New York born co-founder of Urban-Think Tank (U-TT), Alfredo Brillembourg, is no stranger to South Africa, and was a guest speaker at the 2012 Design Indaba. There, Slum Dwellers International introduced him to Ikhayalami, which lead to a partnership in seeking to upgrade informal settlements in Cape Town with a unique double story shack design. This Empower Shack collaboration is a perfect fit for U-TT, which has worked extensively in designing social architecture in developing contexts worldwide.
Brillembourg's focus is on serving social needs through well designed, sustainable physical forms: "From our beginnings in Caracas, to our more recent activities in South Africa, Colombia and elsewhere, we have sought to work with communities and partners to reimagine the possibilities of life in the informal city."
Like a true architectural visionary, Brillembourg wants to push future boundaries in how cities extend upwards. "The big question is if the city is up in the air, towers can take on any shape. Towers no longer have to respect the rationality of the city grid once we are up in the air."
London based architectural designer, Julia King is another speaker at AZA2015. King has a special focus on sanitation and participatory processes in developing countries. She will share insights from her sanitation and housing projects in India which form part of her PhD 'Incremental Cities'.
Palestinian architect and writer, Suad Amiry will also speak at the highly anticipated event, sharing insights from her experiences as founder of Riwaq: the Centre for Architectural Conservation which documents and restores architectural heritage sites across the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza.