The Department of Architecture and Industrial Design at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa is a department located at the periphery of the city and, for a long time, at the margins of teaching, research and academic thinking. The courses on offer have been transformed from technical diplomas and degrees (an academic structure designed during the Apartheid years), to fully-fledged professional Masters’ degrees in architecture. The result is an interesting combination of technical competence and design rigour, which is unique when compared to universities in South Africa which had originated in more traditional contexts. The incremental restructuring of the courses has allowed certain useful historical aspects to remain while also planning for the future — student profiles have changed significantly, and the department has attracted a diverse teaching staff. The resulting programmes are amalgamations of inheritances from the existing programmes (craft and manufacturing traditions, rigorous drawing practice and technical competence) and newer approaches to design research, ordering knowledge, theory, history and philosophy. The undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at the department have, through this amalgamating process, developed along a number of themes that have become defining features of its emerging identity. They are summarised as; ‘Model and Make’, ‘The Anthropocene’, ‘Technological Philosophy’, ‘The Social Contract’, ‘The Foundation’ and ‘Work-integrated Learning’. The production of an identity for a school of architecture assists, in this case, to bring together and grasp the diverse voices and interests of the staff and students of the department. This paper will explore and describe some of the projects that have emerged from these themes and will establish links to the university’s peripheral location in order to describe the increased engagement and relevance for architectural education that become possible in unusual contexts.
Sushma Patel is a professional architect and urban designer who teaches 4th – year Urban Design, Building Physics and Systems Design and runs the 5th year Design program. She also supervises Master of Architecture candidates and is the Head of Post Graduate Studies at the Department of Architecture and Industrial Design, Tshwane University of Technology.
Emmanuel Nkambule teaches 4th-year design and structures (2nd and 3rd year) subjects, a 4th year (Technology degree) co-ordinator, and supervises Master of Architecture and Doctor of Architecture candidates at the Department of Architecture and Industrial Design, Tshwane University of Technology.
Melchior Jacobus Stander is an architect and TUT architecture school graduate. He is a lecturer in architecture and together with Siegfried Schmidt, developed and runs the foundation course, teaches 1st year design presentation, and supervises Master of Architecture and Doctor of Architecture candidates at the Department of Architecture and Industrial Design, Tshwane University of Technology.
Stephen Steyn is a lecturer in the post-graduate programme at TUT and run the postgraduate ‘Architectural Technology’ programme. He has taught at a number of Universities in South Africa.