African Identity in Post-Apartheid Public Architecture: White Skin, Black Masks, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

African Identity in Post-Apartheid Public Architecture

White Skin, Black Masks, 1st Edition

By Jonathan Alfred Noble


320 pages

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Hardback: 9780754677659
pub: 2011-03-28
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Since the end of Apartheid, there has been a new orientation in South African art and design, turning away from the colonial aesthetics to new types of African expression. This book examines some of the fascinating and impressive works of contemporary public architecture that 'concretise' imaginative dialogues with African landscapes, craft and indigenous traditions. Referring to Frantz Fanon's classic study of colonised subjectivity, 'Black Skin, White Masks', Noble contends that Fanon's metaphors of mask and skin are suggestive for architectural criticism, in the context of post-Apartheid public design. Taking South Africa's first democratic election of 1994 as its starting point, the book focuses on projects that were won in architectural competitions. Such competitions are conceived within ideological debates and studying them allows for an examination of the interrelationships between architecture, politics and culture. The book offers insights into these debates through interviews with key parties concerned - architects, competition jurors, politicians, council and city officials, artists and crafters, as well as people who are involved in the day-to-day life of the buildings in question.


'In this detailed and carefully argued study, Noble shows how a different kind of modern architecture is possible - contemporary in appearance, yet also public, democratic, political and symbolic. An inspiring piece of work.' Iain Borden, University College London, UK 'If the problem of creating a Palestinian state is today's pathological example of man's inhumanity to man, we mustn't forget that only a generation ago the South African apartheid regime was the world's rallying point. Huge transformations have been made in South Africa since then, and Jonathan Noble's remarkable book is one of the first to study the architectural and urban ramifications of the collapse of apartheid. Other scholars will no doubt seek to challenge the interpretations offered in this book - as befits a subject of such importance - but they will be indebted to Noble for having written such a lucidly analytical account.' Murray Fraser, University of Westminster, UK '… the book's careful unpacking of the formal undecidability that results when political ideology becomes entangled with architectural production gives it a relevance and value that transcend its South African setting. Noble offers a well-illustrated, thoughtful account of how cultural 'authenticity', whether manifested through political subjectivity or built environments, is always under construction, fashioned through the interplay of a heterogeneous array of factors, narratives and mechanisms.' Traditional Dwellings & Settlements Review 'One of the book’s chief merits is Noble’s detailed presentation of his original research into the design competitions for each project. Comparing the winning schemes against failed ones, the text provides a rich insight into the values and priorities of the public officials, jury members and architects responsible for the final outcomes. Noble’s exposition also illustrates the detrimental but sometimes fraught efforts to integrate South Africa’s new democratic expectations int

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword; Introduction; Imagination and identification, part 1: the Mpumalanga legislature, Nelspruit; Imagination and identification, part 2: the Northern Cape legislature, Kimberley; 'We the People', part 1: the Constitutional Court of South Africa, at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg; 'We the People', part 2: the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication, Kliptown; Honouring our other 'We': Freedom Park, Pretoria; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Dr Jonathan Alfred Noble, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

About the Series

Ashgate Studies in Architecture

Ashgate Studies in Architecture
The discipline of Architecture is undergoing subtle transformation as design awareness permeates our visually dominated culture. Technological change, the search for sustainability and debates around the value of place and meaning of the architectural gesture are aspects which will affect the cities we inhabit. This series seeks to address such topics, both theoretically and in practice, through the publication of high quality original research, written and visual. Topics to be covered include the following: Architectural history and theory and their relationship to the development of the discipline, building conservation, heritage and creative adaptation. The formal and aesthetic values of architectural design, the diversity of its expression of identity, and its representation in other media. The impact of technological innovation on the materialisation of architecture and the questions surrounding environmental sustainability, experimentation and visionary design The social and psychological context of architectural production, its relationship to occupants, clients and to other creative and professional disciplines, and the political situation in which it is commissioned. Proposals will be welcomed which explore or connect aspects of these themes. Subjects which deal with individual architects, with specific buildings or building types, and the critical interpretation of historical and contemporary architecture from a theoretical or philosophical perspective are particularly encouraged. Architecture's embodiment of technical, social, and aesthetic aspects will also be emphasised.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Regional Planning