Archive: Issue No. 121, September 2007

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The DaimlerChrysler South African Architecture Exhibition opens in Johannesburg
by Michael Smith

This month sees a triumphant moment for SA architect Heinrich Wolff, of Cape Town-based Noero Wolff Architects, as an exhibition of his work celebrating his 2007 win of the 2007 DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Architecture opens in Johannesburg. Wolff joins a name-dropper's dream list of creative South Africans recognised by the awards in the past seven years, a group including photographer Guy Tillim, sculptor Jane Alexander and jazz musician Themba Mkhize. The yearly award, which is made in a different discipline of contemporary culture each time, aims to 'offer support to talented and innovative artists from South Africa and help raise the profile of these artists at national and international level, with winners invited to present their bodies of work overseas.'

The Johannesburg showing (at the University of Johannesburg Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture) is only the first of a three-city run on home soil: the exhibition moves to Durban on November 9, and to Cape Town on January 27, 2008. The exhibition then moves abroad to Germany for a final showing at the University of Bayreuth at the end of April 2008.

A monographic catalogue devoted to Heinrich Wolff, and a separate publication featuring the eight nominees - Wolff, Archilab, Heather Dodd, Andy Horn, Ndabo Langa, Henning Rassmuss and Chris Wilkinson, accompany the exhibition.

Wollf (37) became a partner in Noero Wolff architects in 1998. Over the past nine years he has been involved in teaching design, construction and theory at various universities, and focuses on the themes of Third World architecture, material culture, architecture and landscape, and multiple outcomes. His architectural work includes residential, commercial, low-cost housing, educational and health facilities. Says Wolff about his architectural practice, 'I grew up on the privileged side of an unfair society and I feel compelled to contribute in effort and in ideas to the physical and intellectual reconstruction of the country. For me this means purposefully engaging in projects that go across boundaries of race, income group, received or constructed culture or historical categories. It would be unsatisfactory to think that great architectural opportunity would lie only with wealthy clients or international commissions where South African social-economic realities do not exist.'

The exhibition closes on October 19.