AZA16 is a three-day architecture and design festival, showcasing six international and 20 local speakers, over and above workshop and tour leaders. The programme intersperses keynote lectures with parallel sessions which offer delegates a choice of design and professional practice streams. Between the more formal aspects of the programme, a diverse programme of creative activities, exhibitions and informal presentations will bring delegates in touch with speakers in a more relaxed way.
The festival delves into the theme of SCALE, how it transcends professions, and the endless array of interpretations it manifests.
Scale is not a concept limited to planning, urban design or architecture: it overcomes these borders. In the last century of practice, different scales have increasingly fallen into different professional camps, but AZA16 proposes that architects critically contest those divisions in the global 21st century. We are now recognising the interdependence of scales, whether in terms of physics, ecology or transnational cultural manifestations. In reality, scale is collapsing, making the nano to the global, and beyond, more knowable to all.
Scaling up and down is intrinsic to the craft of architecture and spatial practice. Scale is also ingrained in indigenous African practice, whether in the abundance of fractal patterns or the configuration of dwelling spaces, and yet it needs to fit with global scalar practices. Scaling is important for business, as the relationship between the single maker and networks of production becomes ever more fluid.
AZA16 aims to assert the capacity of architects to work at and across all scales. Expert speakers will explore topics ranging from the effects of big data on complex design ecologies, systems and territories, to the intimacies of crafted detail and local communities. It will examine how architects and other designers work across scales, how they handle ‘bigness’ and ‘smallness’, and how the micro and the uber intersect.
Scale is not just about what space is available. It is so much more: how to design a dwelling unit that repeats over twenty floors; how to mediate the experience of individual visitors at a hotel or conference with the logistics of food chains; how to insert a tiny, exquisite narrative into a vast cultural landscape; how to make an urban gesture that helps to humanise a city of cars and taxis; and how to place the informal in the formal, and the formal in the informal.”
AZA16 will be shaped around its communities of architect and design delegates, and extend outwards from the university campus into various locations in neighbouring Braamfontein. As delegates walk the city, connections of different scales will be made manifest. Plenary sessions will be held in the Wits Great Hall, while parallel lecture sessions will take place in the architecturally distinctive Oppenheimer Life Sciences building, with a traders’ expo marquee, and refreshment and breakaway spaces articulating the route between these two locations. The axis of this route will extend after hours into Braamfontein down Ameshoff Street, and into nearby Juta and de Korte streets, dynamic home to art galleries, design and clothing stores, trendy coffee houses, restaurants, bars, hotels and markets.