Port of Translation
The Agency of Language in Space-Making
Unit Leader: Jiaxin Yan Gong
Unit Assistant: Ruth Manda
Unit Assistant: Thandeka Mnguni
Rogue Roots: Magic of Port and Passage
Corobrik 2nd Runner Up
This body of work seeks to shift the problematic hegemony of English as the dominant language in which Architecture is taught, practiced, and understood in the context of South Africa. The Illustrated Glossary of Southern African Architectural Terms by Franco Frescura provides a dense index of indigenous architectural genius that has actively been excluded from our evolution of space-making purely because the associated rituals and choreographies do not exist in English thought and experience. Language is a major instrument in this work, and as such, domestic architecture is explored through the Nguni language isiZulu. Memory is written into being through mediums such as poetry, photography, mapping, and performance. This research is important in recognising the parallel changes between architecture and language, especially in a time when we are surging towards a future that seeks to (re)define how our spaces serve us. Port of Translation proposes that architectural design should be inclusive of one’s home language. It is through this that it begins, not only performing differently, but it also offers itself as a dynamic archive of the African identity and history. Language defines our built and lived experiences.