Dead Monuments: The Case of the Red Location Museum in Mandela Bay Metro, South Africa

In 2005, and after a twelve-year consultative process, an esteemed architectural practice inaugurated a new museum commemorating the lives of several anti-apartheid stalwarts, among them Nelson Mandela. This museum, the Red Location Museum, is recognized as a site of national struggle and is situated in Port Elizabeth’s oldest black township, New Brighton. Designed to challenge conventional museum design, the Red Location’s design is highly participatory. Twelve tall, rusted memory boxes contain the multiple threads of different personal histories. On entering any of these boxes, the visitor is confronted by a wealth of personal memoires and artefacts relating to the struggle for dignity during the apartheid years. In addition, there is an art gallery, a library, a music archive, and an on-going community-centred heritage programme. Despite the prominence, both nationally and internationally, of this anti-apartheid institution, local residents (the museum is built in a black township) forced the closure of the entire museum complex and have prevented museum staff, and members of the public, from entering any of the buildings. By way of explanation, a community leader asked, “Why build a house for dead people when us, the living, do not have a roof over our heads.” This paper, built on first-hand interviews with residents and city councillors conducted at the end of 2014, links the closure of the museum to “capture” politics and the wave of service delivery protests that have reportedly increased during President Zuma’s administration.

Climate-responsive Strategies in Vernacular Houses in Northern Iran

The amount of energy needed for buildings to provide comfortable thermal conditions will eventually become unsustainable. Climate-responsive architecture offers possible solutions to this challenge. Vernacular buildings, in contrast to modern buildings, are more responsive to the environment and are built according to principles developed over many generations. In the Gilan region, located in northern Iran on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, the climate plays a fundamental role in the diversity and formation of vernacular residential buildings. Climatic factors such as sunlight, wind, excessive rain, and high humidity have significant effects on the form and elements of vernacular houses. This paper studies the strategies used to respond to climatic factors in Gilan and also identifies and classifies architectural elements created in response to those strategies. In order to achieve this aim, it identifies Gilan’s climatic and bioclimatic factors and then investigates methods used to respond to them in the construction of vernacular houses. The climate-responsive approaches used in vernacular architecture are important for modeling an integration between passive and active design strategies. Climate-responsive architecture can improve comfort and use less energy.

Contextualizing the Landscape Design to Cultural Traditions: A Case of Community Open Spaces in Pune, India

India has rich and diverse cultural heritage where cultural traditions are an important part of life. Festival celebrations are pause points in the routine life of the people apart from being rituals in religious traditions. Community open spaces are important settings for the festival celebrations and cultural activities. Historic cities had community open spaces closely integrated in the fabric of the city with spatial characteristics developed in response to the cultural traditions. The “synomorphy” (as defined by Roger Barker) of the spatial setting and the cultural traditions developed in the traditional settlements is evident even today in the old city cores of Indian cities. This paper takes case of the city of Pune to study the cultural traditions and festivals and their spatial settings in context of landscape design. Pune, an important city in the state of Maharashtra, is called as the cultural capital of the state. The paper uses a descriptive and qualitative approach to study and present the space-culture associations based on observation and activity mapping of open spaces in various parts of the city during festivals. Secondary data and literature is also used to understand the spatiality of the festivals and for triangulation of the data. Like many cities in the world, the city of Pune has grown rapidly in past few decades owing to the globalisation and technological revolution. The city on one hand offers state-of-the-art business and educational opportunities while on the other has strong cultural patterns evident even today in the celebrations and festivals. The simultaneity of the modern as well as the traditional probably makes the city an interesting livable place. The change in housing form and open space structure has resulted in the loss of domestic open space, which was earlier present in traditional houses and served as places for family functions and festival celebrations. Today, community open spaces are largely used for cultural activities and festival celebrations. The landscapes of the community open spaces are dominantly programmed to meet recreational activities and have very typical park-like character. Certain cultural activities that are best suited on a barren ground cannot be supported by the lawn. The lawn dominated landscapes have a lot of restrictions imposed on their usage as maintaining a lawn is an expensive task in tropical, water-scarce situations. Use of purely ornamental and exotic species of plants lacks any of the cultural associations that the native species have. Findings of the study point to the need for contextualizing open space design with an aim of creating culture-responsive settings conducive for cultural activities.