South Africa

Design-led architecture studio The Maak encourages turning waste to creative wonder

Design-led architecture studio The Maak encourages turning waste to creative wonder
Cape Town - A local architecture studio working with local communities is using waste materials to build sculptures in open and unused spaces to showcase their art and skills.

The Maak is a design-led architecture studio in Woodstock with a focus on public buildings and public space that works with low-income areas by encouraging people to use their spaces creatively.

Every year the studio facilitates an experimental “Design and Make” programme called Follies in the Veld (FITV). During the course they collaborate with other “makers”, “thinkers” and “doers” to collectively design and build a large-scale Folly, which is a temporary spatial installation.

Max Melvill from The Maak said they specialised in public buildings to leverage architecture for the most amount of positive social impact. They primarily work in developing communities.

As part of their broader agenda to help make quality design more accessible and inclusive in South Africa, The Maak moved this year’s programme to Langa to build a Folly out of juice and milk boxes.

“Each year we choose a specific site and a specific material as starting points for the build, and this year we chose the open public space next to the Pass Museum in Langa, and worked with Tetra Pak (old juice cartons). Last year we built on a farm in Bot River called Porcupine Hills and worked primarily with glass.

“In this way FITV is becoming a unique open and progressive platform that aims to help facilitate unique creative exchange, skills transfer, and connection,” Melvill said.

“Most low-income areas have access to open public land, but these spaces often lack any meaningful activation. Even though our outcomes are temporary we are hoping to attract positive attention around how to better address our public spaces as community assets versus static no-man’s lands,” he said.

Heath Nash of Our Workshop in Guga S’thebe said the point of this year’s Folly in Langa, which brought together 10 Langa residents and about 10 people from outside to co-create something in two days, was about collaboration.

“It’s the first large-scale temporary public sculpture made by Langa residents for Langa. Through this, skills were exchanged and we expanded the possibilities of public space with the community.

“Our workshop uses ‘waste’ to make more valuable things all the time. We had very little budget for the project, too, so we managed to get the materials donated.”

Nash said their workshop was a space for hope and connection to be generated.

He said these built structures brought a different feel to spaces and encouraged people to use their spaces, especially in townships to showcase their art and skills.


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Cape Argus