Thirdspace : Negotiating the Thirdspace as an Emergent Territory
South Africa
Being faced with a pluralist society, that being South Africa, this poses an interesting question. What constitutes a man? Whose ideology is right? Political power takes many forms. Many political regimes have made powerful symbolic use of the physical environment. Throughout history and across the globe, architecture and urban design have been manipulated in the service of politics. Government buildings are an attempt to build governments and support specific regimes which serve as symbols of the state. We can therefore learn much about a political regime by observing closely what it builds. The Union Buildings provides an excellent vehicle for the exploration of these issues since it presents itself with expressions of power and identity. This work explores notions of power and identity expressed in the Union Buildings, as well as change in political regimes and the representation of buildings under such regimes over the span of the Union Buildings from their time of conception to current day. The theoretical investigation explores the concept of the third space. The architecture should be able to intervene within fortified walls that have been constructed by politicians to safeguard themselves and their ideologies, and to create new levels of interaction that assist in the creation of a new democratic identity. The architectural intent seeks to explore the relationship of Self and Other, conceptually and physically, by confrontation or contestation of the existing boundaries and controls that occur in and around the Union Buildings. Furthermore, the architecture seeks to disrupt traditional notions of the ‘plinth’ and the ‘boundary’ and introduces a third space in which the users of the space can inhabit. The proposed intervention is a corruption of the axis by generating a new axis. Within this notion, the deflection aims to rest within the continuum of architecture, introducing a new layer in to the old, and allowing the new to merge into its landscape while still maintaining a differentiation between the old and the new. The proposal is thus a process of etching and a process of remoulding. The architecture is a harsh contrast to the existing representative of a harsh past and highlighted through the use of corten steel. Elements between old and new are investigated. The project moves beyond representation of conflicted pasts in current museum typologies, and enables the platform for a new identity to be formed, both architecturally and in the selection of the programme. The proposed programme of the political school facilitates the interception of the structure into the Union Buildings by a forced interaction between the politicians and the public.
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