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Architecture Practice and the City: Cape Town and São Paulo

Fri, Dec 9, 2016    1pm

Join us for the inaugural event of Architecture Practice and the City. This Studio-X initiative engages design practices whose work addresses key debates taking place in their respective cities. Discourse on the city is explored through the examination of specific projects.

Organized by the Studio-X Global Network.

Heinrich Wolff and Ilze Wolff, Wolff Architects (Cape Town)
Marta Moreira, MMBB (São Paulo)
In conversation with Mpho Matsipa (Studio-X Johannesburg) and Pedro Rivera (Studio-X Rio de Janeiro)


Watershed Project: Business Incubator and Market, V&A Waterfront
Completed in 2014, the Watershed Project locates a business incubator in an existing industrial shed while simultaneously creating economic opportunities for small businesses through a new market. Situated in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront redevelopment in Cape Town around Victoria and Alfred Basins, the project is inserted into a mixed-use area, consisting of retail, tourism, and a residential development alongside a working harbor. Wolff Architects proposed a new street throughout the entire shed, which sets up an urban pedestrian network that connects several popular areas around the shed. Instead of yielding high foot traffic to one or two big-box tenants, the market was devised as many micro tenancies which allow small and emerging businesses to take advantage of the commercial opportunity. This commercial pattern was learnt from studying street based business in various urban situations. According to Wolff Architects: “It is fundamental, in the context of unjustifiable inequality in South Africa, that big business should establish themselves in the city in a manner that sets up opportunity or benefits for smaller businesses. This project shows how this can be done.”

Wolff Architects
Wolff is a design studio that cuts across the mediums of design, advocacy, research, and documentation, led by Ilze Wolff and Heinrich Wolff. Wolff Architects work collaboratively with a group of highly skilled, committed and engaged architects, creative practitioners, and administrators in their office in Cape Town. Both principals have taught and lectured internationally including Switzerland, Germany, Italy, USA, Canada, Japan, and India and continue to do so. The work of the practice has also been included at various international exhibitions including the Venice Architecture Biennale, Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, the Chicago Architectural Biennale, the São Paulo Biennale, and the South American Architecture Biennale.


Jardim Edite Social Housing Complex
Designed by MMBB Architects together with H+F Architects, the social housing project Jardim Edite was built on the site of a former slum to rehouse its dwellers. As part of a larger urban operation, the site was considered privileged due to its location in São Paulo’s most significant area of recent growth, the financial and service sector. The design articulated the verticalization of the housing program with a foundation made up of three public facilities that serve the neighborhood: a catering school, healthcare clinic, and daycare center. Jardim Edite challenges the struggle of designing social housing in Brazil by revisiting the modern tradition and building a mixed use development on a reduced budget that is well integrated in the core of the city.

Marta Moreira, MMBB
Marta Moreira graduated from the School of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of São Paulo (FAU/USP) in 1987. In 1991 she co-founded MMBB Architects, which is responsible for several projects in Brazil and abroad. In 1995 the office established a partnership with Paulo Mendes da Rocha, with whom Moreira and her partners developed a number of projects. Moreira also extend her activities into the academic sphere since 1992. Currently, beyond her role at MMBB, she serves as professor of design at the Escola da Cidade School of Architecture in São Paulo, Brazil.

Co-Organized by Columbia GSAPP, Studio-X Johannesburg, and Studio-X Rio De Janeiro.