Author : Jurie Swart

University : University of the Free State

Status : BArch, 2013

Advisors : Martie Bitzer, Jan Ras

Title : Borderline | Mediated Landscape : A water research centre for the University of the Free State

When exploring the first traces of architecture, it brings us to Marc-Antoine Laugiers’ reference to the primitive hut where the shelter and the skin act as a refuge: a wall offering protection from the outside world. In nature the skins of plants and animals are much more sophisticated – they are able to regulate temperature, generate energy and adapt to change. By exploring nature’s design and introducing biomimicry (the act of mimicking or copying biology) the obvious clues in nature can be applied to architecture which will ultimately result in the creation of a hybrid building- a building self-sustaining and adaptive to its surroundings.

The site (Fika Patso Dam) is a man made. It was constructed in 1986 to provide water to the surrounding communities of the Eastern Free State. The site now consumes a vast landscape of water which is covering the entire valley. It is in contrast with its ‘lost space’ which has no connection with past or present; a pause in space and time. This led to the idea of spatial reawakening through the medium of architecture.

According to Tadao Ando : “The presence of architecture: regardless of its self-contained character – inevitably creates a new landscape. This implies the necessity of discovering the architecture which the site itself is seeking”.

This dissertation explores whether nature and architecture can amalgamate to become a hybrid solution in a vast landscape which has lost its reference to time and space. The transformation of space and time through architecture results in a progressive fusion giving meaning to a certain non-place lacking character and special qualities and resulting in an awakened space.

Architecture should become a space within which nature can grow and become part of the symbiosis called life. When the colliding systems are fused, a coherent typology emerges; juxtaposing the forgotten space and creating a tabula rasa where the non place can be reactivated resulting in a spatial awakening.