Alumna, Nicole Nomsa Moyo (MArch/2015), has been recognized as one of the World’s Top 20 Design Graduates by Antenna for her MArch thesis project, Ukubutha — Towards a New Social Architecture in South African Townships. Her thesis, developed under the supervision of Professor Inderbir Riar, investigated an underdeveloped urban community on the periphery of a former township in Pretoria, South Africa.
The community is situated along the border of Mamelodi, one the oldest and seventh biggest township in the country. The township was created under the Apartheid regime specifically for the alienation of physical race and culture residential divisions. Although vibrant with economic and social activity, thousands of people on the site have limited access to adequate sanitation or water, and have no electricity. Moyo observed that more people have access to a mobile phone than they do to a flushing toilet. For her, Ukubutha is about creating sustainable environmental communities.
“The project allows the communities to become independent and gives them ownership of their infrastructure, which they build and maintain themselves. Extra space in and around the construction encourages community interaction and outdoor skills training to further enrich the community”
Ukubutha is a Zulu term meaning to ‘gather’. The project name describes the intentions of an architectural response to crisis. The role of architecture is to mediate between the social needs of township communities without formal access to water, or sanitation and electricity. Although the South African crisis revolves around water and sanitation, Ukubutha recognizes the interconnectedness of needs and activities that improve standards of living.
“As global citizens, we don’t have to wait for policy to inform design. We too should be accountable for creating innovative solutions that inform local and global policies.”
Moyo presented Ukubutha at the Antenna conference during the prestigious Dutch Design Week. Antenna is an international platform for young, design talent with new insights, clear ideals and strong ambition. Each year, 20 talented individuals from around the world, recognized for having ideas that will have positive impact on the world are nominated to present during the inspirational conference and expo.
“I feel blessed to be chosen …[as] the opportunity really reflects the quality of the project that was created with a tremendous amount of support from my advisors [and] it recognizes the importance of working above and beyond, personal and institutional boundaries…”
Moyo was also honoured to present her project at last year’s International Conference on Chinese and African Sustainable Urbanization (ICCASU) in Cameroon. The conference on Smart Urban Development: From Local to Global Actions was hosted in conjunction with The United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat).
Moyo is a current designer with DIALOG’s urban planning team in Toronto. She hopes to partner with international municipalities and communities to get a pilot project set up for Ukubutha.
Access to a copy of Moyo’s thesis can be found here.
Congratulations, Nicole! Very well deserved.
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