PRIZES WATTVILLE, JOHANNESBURG
W2322 - LIVING TRANSLATED
CRAIG MORE - JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA 'LIVING TRANSLATED' is a complete design on the levels of urbanity, cultural issues, housing and technology. This thorough proposal delivers an assortment of public spaces in which pedestrianized environment and access are emphasized. All elements are carefully defined and designed, and it is clear that the designer has endeavoured to translate all aspects of the brief closely. One of the major strengths of this project is that planning is seen as a process, rather than as a fixed result. The scheme has a clear structural system which allows for change, growth and implementation, but lacks a spatial strategy to ensure that public and semi-public areas remain unbuilt. It is unfortunate that this winning scheme does not show a real sense of truly innovative urban structure. Nor does it indicate how distinguished urban spatial systems, with linkages to the surrounding urban context, are to be set up. However, the designer demonstrates commendable skill at most levels; for example, in the subtle handling of the urban structure, using different accents. FOCAL areas, such as the storm-water area, the cemetery and the nodal business area, are clearly identified and a reasonable attempt has been made to integrate the Wattville and Tamboville areas. The main focus is on housing and the surrounding area has been acknowledged in the limitation of the building height. THE scheme could have said more about how the existing fabric on the Wattville side of the road might be reformatted to become part of the strip, rather than presenting it as a potential barrier on the Tamboville side. The jury expressed concern that, if built, the scheme would do little for the integration of the township or the improvement of the quality of the wider area. The drainage channel in 'Living Translated' is designed as a park, making the vacant land socially valuable and setting the existing community centre in a wider framework. The scheme shows a working knowledge of the site and recognizes certain features of great symbolic significance. For example, the importance of the cemetery for both communities is acknowledged. In the scheme, this sacred and highly respected site is given a distinct meaning and Oliver Tambo's grave is clearly emphasized. The system of structure for habitation along the strip is promising, although it would have been better if the housing had faced the cemetery. WITH regard to public housing, the principle of a neutral structure that can accommodate a variety of uses has in the past proved successful. In 'LIVING TRANSLATED', this principle is the point of departure for the infill of this complex site. The architectural flexibility and the possibilities for implementation are particularly admirable. Other positive features are the low-rise development and the labour-intensive building technology. The scheme is most convincing at the level of the unit and the collective and provides choice of dwelling type. At the level of individual groups of dwellings and floor plans, the scheme allows for different life styles and small-scale social activities. This results in variety and choice. Each individual dwelling has identity and character, a marked contrast with the dreary uniformity of the existing dwellings. Attention has been paid to the development of commercial activities. Spaces at the front of the dwellings can function as small shops. It is also possible for residents to add to their own dwellings. 'Living Translated' also pays attention to privacy and recreational facilities, and allows for community involvement. The proposal could enhance the image of the area and lend residents pride and dignity. The scheme shows a sensitivity to and understanding of the reality of communal and urban life in Wattville. Economic empowerment is also given prominence in this project. The jury praised the scheme for its simplicity and the fact that it is easy to implement. The jury also admired the exploratory nature of the presentation and was convinced that, if developed further, the scheme could become a major project.