18:00 SAST

18:00  SAST


Making... A Difference 2022

Making is bound up in economics, culture, and politics. A brick in Alex is not the same brick in Sandton. Making is a lens through which we confront broader societal issues and learn. The process of making architecture is complex, large-scale, drawn-out, and collaborative and perhaps, therefore, architects tend to forget that we are “makers”. Unit 17 experiments with emergent methods and materials. We encourage brave, imaginative leaps into future tectonic possibilities, we tease out subtle twists in traditional techniques and forgotten technologies, we borrow and adapt from other making disciplines, we learn through making.

Creative dialogue, exchanging ideas, asking “What if?”, courageous listening are all powerful tools for social transformation. Architects have a unique ability to imagine and communicate realities beyond the constraints of the present. We are society’s imagination engine. We are skilled collaborators, good at navigating the complex conversations of multiple stakeholders, reconciling the big picture with the details. Taking a walk around our city, we notice that there is an epidemic of homogenisation in our built environment. Many building products previously manufactured in South Africa are no longer available. As the specifiers of materials, as influencers, architects must shoulder the blame. The market is Darwinian – specify it or it will die. This year Unit 17 is joining forces with some of the biggest players in the South African materials industry for a deep-dive R&D collab.

There’s also a depressing proliferation of ‘To Let’ signs in the city. We urgently need to rethink how we inhabit our seemingly redundant stockpile of commercial real estate. This year we are teaming up with property developers Growthpoint for site specific design research at several distressed properties. If you can look at the same building block in multiple ways, if you’re not scared to get your hands dirty, and if you’re up for a challenge; if you need to be Making... a difference then Unit 17 is for you!

Gregory Katz
Unit Leader
Gregory Katz is an architect. He studied at UCT and Columbia University in New York City after which he worked for Zvi Hecker (Tel Aviv and Berlin) and Studio Daniel Libeskind (Los Angeles). He founded Gregory Katz Architecture in 2006 through which he explores materials and construction methods sometimes in new and unexpected ways.
Jaco Jonker
Unit Tutor
Jaco Jonker is a GSA graduate, architect, and generative designer. In 2018, he started his own practice Starfield Architects and works with generative design and manufacturing software, 3D printing, CNC machining, and AI-assisted design algorithms in his projects using locally made and sustainably sourced materials and processes.

Senzo Mamba
Unit Assistant
Senzo Mamba is a GSA graduate and researcher. His Master’s thesis received the Regional Corobrik Student Award. He is interested in material alchemy and advanced construction technology and strives to emulate the improvised composition of elements found in music genres such as Jazz in his work.


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