The Ulwazi Community Curtain
South Africa
The Community Curtain is a project in New Crossroads, South Africa, that aims to re-shape how communities, architects, and architecture can work together to deliver more dynamic and socially sustainable public infrastructure in areas that need it the most. Re-imagining the refurbishment strategy of an existing community centre, MAAK has used a simple spatial intervention as a physical and metaphorical tool to harness the power of architecture to up-skill a community. // The operable ‘Community Curtain’ replaces obstructing walls at the heart of the Ulwazi Centre, turning the facility into a flexible and dynamic community space. With the curtain raised, natural light will flood the internal spaces of the building and will help with effective ventilation. It will be a large, but easy to supervise play space. The Curtain can be lowered to quickly transform the same space into an enclosed and controlled environment to host, amongst other things, community performances and arts programmes. The space will be free from any storage or service duties due to shoe racks and draws that line the border of the new, raised sprung flooring. This adaptable ‘pop-up’/ ‘pop down’ venue will locate itself as a valuable asset in the area, providing a platform for local youth to participate in cultural programs and exposing the broader public to the benefits of cultural activities. // The Community Curtain is made up of 300 x 300mm ‘fund-able squares’ sewn together by local community members. In this way, the Curtain has been designed to be part of a marketing strategy and funding tool to help crowd-fund the capital needed to address maintenance and architectural issues. The design process is thus able to deliver a much-needed architectural intervention but is also providing a creative way to fund the project and provide an opportunity to create local employment and skills transfer. // MAAK is grateful to be working closely with various stakeholders who are helping to realise the project. Some of the team includes: the National Arts Council and the Community Arts & Culture Federation of the Western Cape, who will both help fund the cultural programmes; Indoni, who will facilitate the execution of them; Sakhumzi Nobatana, the Ulwazi Centre Manager and Dr Mamphela Ramphele. Together we are hopeful that we can set a new precedent for how this, and similar projects, are executed for the benefit off all involved. // To find out more about the community curtain, fund your own square, or simply get a glimpse into other work we are involved in visit our website ( , send us a mail ([email protected]), or follow us on social media (@the.maak).
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