Workshop to address sustainable architecture in SA

The European Union of National Institutes for Culture in South Africa (EUNIC) is hosting its fourth annual EUNIC Architecture Studio to devise strategies to improve and renovate an existing inner-city building, Florence House, while addressing the crucial issue of living and housing conditions in modern South Africa, between 21 and 25 November 2011, in Braamfontein, Joburg.
This year, 30 students from South Africa, France, the UK and Mozambique, together with architects and young professionals, will tackle the major issue of Recycling the City, an Approach to Sustainable Architecture and look for strategies to renovate and improve, with a constant approach based on economy of means, simple solutions and good sense, involving urban recycling.

On 28 and 29 November, the work produced as part of the EUNIC Architecture Studio from 2008 to 2011 will be presented at the Conference of the United Nations on Climate Change (COP 17) in Durban.

Climate, energy efficiency and general comfort of tenants

Located between Constitution Hill and the Civic Theatre, Florence House used to be a hospital. Today, it houses over 1000 people. The architectural approach will focus on economy of means, sustainability, simple solutions and good sense. The renovation will also aim to link the building to its context, taking into account climate, energy efficiency, and the general comfort and well-being of its tenants. Participants will investigate strategies to increase density and social diversity in the building.

Participants will be guided in their efforts by internationally renowned architects and professionals from southern Africa and Europe.

Thorsten Deckler (RSA): Founded 26'10 South Architects with partner Anne Graupner in Johannesburg in 2005. He won the 2011 BAUWELT special prize for first "realised" work for the Sans Souci Cinema in Kliptown, Soweto, with Anne Graupner and Lindsay Bremner, and the second prize for Daimler Chrysler Award for SA Architecture in 2007. Involved in part-time teaching, he developed a course on Informal Settlement Upgrading for the University of Johannesburg's master's programme in architecture 2011, and occasionally lectures at various universities. For more, go to

Frédéric Druot (France): Graduated from the School of Architecture of Bordeaux in 1984. In 1987, he founded the Epinard Bleu Agency, which became a young cult agency in France in the 1990s. The Frédéric Druot Architecture agency was created in Paris in 1991. Frédéric Druot became "Chevalier de l'ordre des arts et des lettres" in 2002 and won the Sustainability and Residential Innovation prize in 2006 in Madrid. For more, go to

Daniel Estevez (France): Is an architect, an engineer and a teacher at the School of Architecture of Toulouse. His work and research tackle the observation of today's graphic usage in architecture, the analysis of the transformations of architectural figurative functions for urban projects in today's computer-assisted production, the identification of architectural project production based on today's figurative tools (mapping, experiences, digital technologies).

Christophe Hutin (France): Graduated from the School of Architecture of Bordeaux in 2003 and spent months studying and documenting townships and squatter camps in Gauteng, from where he developed a genuine expertise about South African housing issues. Specialised in sustainable architecture, he also makes documentaries, creates events, curates exhibitions and lectures at the School of Architecture of Toulouse. He is the EUNIC architecture studio co-ordinator. For more, go to

Iain Low (RSA): Graduated from the University of Cape Town in 1978 before holding an International Housing Certificate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a Master's degree in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. "Conventional ideas of master planning and 'design as control' become counterproductive and even irrelevant. Consequently, 'good design' has to be conceived as an integrating process, one which connects with the complex conditions which constitute contemporary culture." For more, go to

Alexander Opper (RSA): Is an architect and senior lecturer in the Department of Architecture, University of Johannesburg. His professional practice focuses on the theory and production of architecturally inspired furniture and installation environments. After having lived, worked and studied in Berlin for about 10 years, he returned to South Africa and established his one-man architectural practice in Johannesburg in 2005. He has since joined forces with Amir Livneh to form Notion Architects, adopting a site-specific, critical architectural approach.

Frans Sebothoma (RSA): Is the operations manager of ICPM Property Management, a company that manages several buildings in and around Johannesburg's inner city (co-operatives, housing associations, body corporate and privately owned properties). He has been involved in social housing since 1998, and was a founder member of Vusanimadolobha Housing, a company formed by the Gauteng Department of Housing together with Social Housing Foundation.

Carin Smuts (RSA): Graduated from the University of Cape Town in 1984. In 1989, she officially established CS Studio Architects in Cape Town. The firm (which by now has developed more than 100 projects all over South Africa), has moved beyond conventional architectural practice to an approach that involves all stakeholders in the creative planning, design and construction processes. Carin Smuts won the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture in 2008. For more, go to

Jeffrey Turko (UK): Is a US-born architect, educator and researcher currently based in London. He founded the design practice Nekton Studio, a design studio that was representing the UK in the 2008 Beijing Biennial. He has taught at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, is the programme director of the AA Global Visiting School in Sydney (Australia), and is currently a senior lecturer at the University of Brighton. He is also a full member of Ocean design research association. For more, go to, and

The programme

  • Monday, 21 to Friday, 25 November: Architecture Studio workshop at IFAS. (Registered students and young professionals only.)
  • 21 November: 6pm - Conference by Carin Smuts at IFAS. (Free entrance. Booking essential. 0,1 CPD)
  • 22 November: 6pm - Conference by Thorsten Deckler and Alex Opper at IFAS. (Free entrance. Booking essential. 0,1 CPD)
  • 23 November: 6pm - Conference by Jeffrey Turko at IFAS. (Free entrance. Booking essential. 0,1 CPD). 7pm - Dinner and walking tour by night. Enjoy Narina Trogon's savoury food in a stylish setting in downtown Joburg and discover the vibrant transformation of Braamfontein, the Newtown cultural precinct and the original heart of Joburg. (Walking shoes and comfortable clothes advised) (R200. Booking essential. Departure at 7pm from IFAS. Return to IFAS at 10.30pm.)
  • 25 November: 6pm - Conference by Frédéric Druot at IFAS. (Free entrance. Booking essential. 0,1 CPD). 7pm - Presentation of the workshop results and buffet at IFAS. (Buffet booking essential.)
  • 26 November to Saturday 3 December: Works exhibition at GIFA

For further information about the workshop programme, contact Claire Métais - French Institute of South Africa (IFAS). Tel: +27 (0)11 403 0458 or email .

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