Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review of UIA 2014 Durban - Day 3

Today marks my third day at the conference and my last day there.  It has been an amazing experience and they have had some fantastic speakers.

The keynote by Toyo Ito

Below are some of the highlights from Day 3:
The day started off with a keynote by Sindile Nganyama and he reminded us of the following: 'Whose heritage are we willing to embrace?' he also added 'What kind of society do we need to create for our children and our children's children.

Wang Shu showed us Beijing and Shanghai and told us that 'In China we do everything very fast.'  He started an architecture school with 1 teacher.  That teacher was him.  Now he has 600 students and 40 teachers.  He feels that maybe in China they have done too much construction.  'I spend a lot of my time in the conservation of villages.' said Shu.  'I like doing experiments in different areas,' said Shu.

Gerardo Salinas showed us Mexico City and informed us that Mexican people will always find a way to make things work.  'Before we start a project we look at what is the potential of the project,' said Salinas. He brought up a good point, 'How can you provide a mixed-use area instead of just office space?'  One of his buildings even features a facade that can be used for other purposes such as crossfit or offices.

After the keynotes I popped into a workshop by Mikhail Peppas who posed an interesting question, 'What makes up the identity of a city?'  He went on to ask, 'What is the identity of Durban?'

You see some amazing things at this conference, I walked by the Student Lounge and happened to see Cameron Sinclair giving a master class to eager students.

Later in the day we were treated to an interactive dance show with a able bodied dancer and a wheel chair bound dancer.  Quite wonderful to watch.

Next there was a presentation on Disasters and the highlights included:

  • An earthquake doesn't take into account where you live.
  • People become affected psychologically by disasters.
  • The fact that people who live on streets and on subways can also be seen as disasters.
  • Occupy Wall Street is another kind of disaster.
  • There is even a conference for disasters.  You can find out more at
  • Disasters can happen everywhere.
  • We were also reminded that South Africa had an earthquake only yesterday. 
The final keynote was the great architect Toyo Ito. 
He has many awards and honours and one can see why.  
I shall forever remember him saying 'Next' everytime he wanted the slide moved to the next one. 
Here are the highlights from his keynote:
  • 'There is no grid system in nature.'
  • He showed us one of his designs that features tubes and each tube has a different use.
  • Toyo Ito gave us a glimpse of a library he designed where the seats are by the huge windows thereby using natural light to the maximum.
  • His latest project is a Opera House.
  • 'The structure is complicated, like the human body.' revealed Ito.
  • He even designed a roof garden on top of the opera building where they can even have smaller concerts.
  • He reminded the architects of the future to be flexible, to save energy and to use natural energy.
  • Toyo Ito received a round of applause for almost all of the designs he showed us.
You can see why he has all those awards. 

The conference concludes tomorrow.
There are still many other events in line with the conference around the city for the month of August.
For more details visit their website:

Article by +Fred Felton 

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