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10 design ideas for the future of Harrington Square

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Next week, 18 – 22 March, will see the exciting design proposals for Harrington Square as visualised by ten talented individuals. Under the astute guidance of Adam Lee Casey, these honours graduates at the UCT School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics produced a diverse and imaginative set of proposals for a site begging for integration into the city. The proposals have been artfully composed into a book, of which you shall learn more in the coming week.

To get the ball rolling we have decided to introduce the project with a personal perspective on the unique studio experience itself.

It was early in 2012 that I first met Adam Lee Casey. He was introduced to the University of Cape Town Honours Architecture class as they prepared to embark on a semester long design investigation. Adam has a most respectable CV , which includes working for Skidmore Owings and Merrill, OMA in China and locally MDL. It was not these accolades which attracted me to his design elective but rather a combination of the region he proposed for study, the subject of our investigation and the unknown and intriguing approach of a non-South African.

The course set up by Adam would aim to investigate the unique and exciting East City which currently is experiencing regeneration and is marketed as the city’s innovation district.  A series of design exercises led up to and supported the buildings we were tasked to create – A Cultural Development Laboratory on Harrington Square. What a Cultural Development Laboratory would be was up to each student’s investigation.

That this elective attracted a large proportion of the most talented students in the honours class is testament to the course Adam proposed. The result was a group of highly competitive creatives desperate to flex their design muscle after spending the year before in offices doing the grunt work. A synergy emerged amongst the group which provided support and encouraged very diverse solutions and narratives to the design problem. The extreme competition pushed individuals to limits they had not yet known existed and the end result showed.

Each member of the group produced an extraordinary building and each building exhibited a unique interpretation of culture. Each solution was formulated through a rigorous and exciting approach and every pin up was a mind broadening experience. I would highly recommended that each urban/architectural proposal be given a moment of careful examination and open minded consideration. – Rob Bowen

Over the course of next week each of these projects will be revealed, we hope you’re as excited as we are!

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