The Architects' Collective (non-profit company) is entrusted with the responsibility of hosting cultural events that promote the architectural profession in Africa.
Our first initiative, the Architect Africa Film Festival (http://aaff.co.za), was hosted with acclaimed achievement in 2007, and in 2010 we hosted our third successful edition of the festival in five cities over three weeks (Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth). We ran the Tripod Architecture Student Photography Competition from 2008 to 2010, and were involved in the Moving Space Student Film Competition since its inception in 2009.
We first held film screenings at the Architecture Student Congress in 2009 at the University of Pretoria, and maintained our involvement in the ASC2010 at the University of Johannesburg, the ASC2011 at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, and at ASC/AZA 2012 in Cape Town.
In 2011 we continued to expand our commitment to furthering the built environment professions and sustainable development in Africa through the South African Informal City Exhibition, which was one of the Technical Site Visits offered by the Local Government Programme for COP17, during the United Nations seventeenth Conference of Parties (Durban, 2011).
Together with eThekwini Municipality, we also co-hosted a series of screenings at COP17 as part of the Repurpose: Architecture in Public Spaces exhibition.
In 2012, the AAFF partnered with UN-Habitat and three other film festivals from India, Sweden and Australia in a global festival at the World Urban Forum, the largest planning convention in the world, which took place in Naples, Italy, from 1-7 September 2012.
In 2014, the AAFF partnered with the Durban International Film Festival to curate the film component of the UIA 2014 World Congress, held from 3-7 August at the Durban ICC. The event is an initiative of the International Union of Architects (UIA), and was hosted by the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA). 2014 was the first time that the Congress was held in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 75 years of the event’s history, and more than 4000 delegates attended from around the world.
In 2015, the AAFF partnered with the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam (AFFR) and the University of Johannesburg FADA FILM Initiative in an exciting new initiative to bring the opening event of the AFFR 2015 to South Africa and the world. This “global home of architecture and film” included a live streaming of the AFFR welcome, opening and Q&A session in Rotterdam to its respected partner festivals in Johannesburg, Budapest, New York, Santiago de Chile, Firenze, Milano, Barcelona, Lisboa, Copenhagen, Turino, and Palermo.
The Graduate School of Architecture (GSA) at the University of Johannesburg
The GSA is Africa’s first – and only – school of architecture aimed solely at postgraduate students. Building on the foundations provided by Alex Opper, who initiated the current M Tech (Prof) programme in 2010, the GSA is now ‘home’ to 76 postgraduate students.
Currently headed by Prof Lesley Lokko, the GSA is the first school on the continent to offer the globally-renowned Unit System method of teaching, first pioneered by the Architectural Association in 1971.
In 2015, Unit System Africa began with three Units, offering a range of research- and practice-led positions. In 2016, as the school grew from 51 to 76 students, the GSA now runs five Units, many of whom offer film and multimedia within their standard representational repertoire.
This year, a unique partnership was formed between the GSA, the Museum of African Design (MOAD) and Saint-Gobain, the global company leading the way in sustainable and innovative habitats. GA_P: A Saint-Gobain Urban Lounge, a 675sqm inner-city events and exhibition space that is the first of its kind in Johannesburg, is the result of this dynamic, three-way partnership. All three partners recognise that architectural discourse is equally made up of events and discussions as it is of buildings.
The AAFF2016 is the first in a planned series of dynamic events and collaborations that aim to elevate the level of public engagement within our cities and urban environments.