theMAAK, a design-lead architecture studio based in Woodstock, Cape Town, focuses on public buildings and public space-making. In order to leverage architecture for the most amount of positive social impact, they primarily work in low-income areas or developing communities with the aim to help deliver “World-class architecture for those that need it the most”.
The design-lead architecture studio believes that more inclusive, purposeful, and beautiful public infrastructure should spread across the full range
of our cities and not just in the more affluent areas. They have the ability to provide better resources in South African communities whilst providing opportunities for us all to better connect and learn across our many social, cultural, and racial boundaries. Their annual Design & Make programme ‘Follies in the Veld’, is just one of the ways in which they are making this dream a reality.
Every year, theMAAK facilitates an experimental Design & Make programme called Follies in the Veld (FITV). During the fast-paced two-week course they collaborate with other makers, thinkers and do-ers to collectively design and build a large scale temporary spatial installation, also called a Folly. Each year, a specific site is used as the departure point for the hands-on creative programme. This year, an open public space next to the Old Pass Museum in Langa was chosen as the site, and the full project team worked with Tetra Pak (juice/milk carton) to build this year’s Folly.
Langa-based creative collective OurWorkshop and Cape Town-based artist and educator Amy Rusch were included as co-facilitators of the FITV 2019 course. While working with the MAAK, there was an overarching theme of ‘working with waste materials’, hence the decision to use TetraPak as the primary building resource.
As part of MAAK’s broader social agenda ‘to help make quality designs more accessible/ inclusive in SA’, this year’s FITV programme was hosted in Langa (a low-income area in Cape Town), with half of the workshop’s participants being creatives from the local community. Together with a range of other collaborators, the mixed crowd brought together during this year’s programme created a unique platform for like-minded people of different skills, backgrounds, class, and races to exchange, share, and learn together.
The process and outcomes of this year’s programme will illustrate a more proactive approach and understanding of what ‘waste’ is with the idea of empowering, educating, and promoting dialogue with others around the topic. This is something that this is especially relevant in low-income areas where creatives might not have access to either the capital or infrastructure required to work.
A clear priority of this year’s course was to help foster a more dynamic ‘culture of use’ for public spaces in developing communities. Most low-income areas have access to open public land, however, the same spaces often lack any meaningful activation. Even though the outcomes of this year’s FITV are temporary, the project team hopes that the final build will prompt positive attention towards how to better address our public spaces and embrace them as the community assets that they can be.
The swooping Tetra-Pak canopies that were built this year actively reflect this attitude and the programme’s final folly has already been positively received and engaged with by the broader public and Langa community.
This year was the first sojourn of FITV into an urban/ public arena, this is something the MAAK hopes to expand on in years to come and are looking forward to seeing how they can harness the creative and collaborative energy of the programme to design and build more social impact.
Perhaps a new public theatre venue, an outdoor cinema, or an open space for learning? In this light, they are always looking for new and interesting people and/or organisations to engage with. All those who are interested and have great ideas can get in touch with the MAAK via email@example.com.