16 November 2012

Noero Architects

Jo Noero was the only African exhibitor at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition la Biennale di Venezia, which runs until 25 November 2012 in Venice, Italy.

Renowned architect Sir David Chipperfield, the director of the exhibition, personally invited Noero to exhibit alongside some of the world’s top architects, including Bernard Tschumi, Rem Koolhaas, and Herzog & de Meuron.

Noero’s exhibition was titled Common Ground / Different Worlds. “Common ground is almost always necessary for transformation, translation and expression in art and architecture,” he says.

Jo Noero, Transformation of Red Location, 2012
Jo Noero Transformation of Red Location, 2012, Ink on Paper Digital Post Production Printed on Canvas, 9.4mx3.5m, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality The plan illustrates a new cultural centre in a historic shack settlement, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa-a part of the city which was devastated by Apartheid spatial planning.

 

The exhibition included a 9.4×3.5m hand-drawn plan and a 7.8×3.5m tapestry. Reviewing the Biennale, The Guardian’s Rowan Moore spoke about the return of “patience and care, exemplified by the returning popularity of crafted and handmade objects, such as a very large city plan hand drawn by the South African Jo Noero.”

The hand-drawn plan of Red Location Precinct, a historic shack settlement in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, illustrates a new cultural centre in a part of the city that was devastated by Apartheid spatial planning.

“Culture and its manifestations of production, performance and exchange were selected as the core development ideas for the Precinct. In doing so, new ways of thinking about city making and architecture in South Africa have been opened up,” says Noero. “The drawing examines the various components of the Precinct and traces the movements of people over time. The plan elucidates common ground in city making and architecture, despite the differences in terms of site and context – Red Location is a shack settlement and is largely occupied by very poor people.”

The tapestry was made by a co-operative of 50 women from the Eastern Cape of South Africa. “It is based on and is the same size as Picasso’s Guernica but the theme is different – the Keiskamma Geurnica tackles AIDS/HIV and its impact on South Africa. The work shows that good art can achieve common ground between different cultures. It also shows how an idea can survive translation and become a potent expression in a different context,” Noero says.

The Keiskamma Trust Hamburg Women’s Co-operative Keiskamma After Guernica, 2009, Re-cycled Textiles Hand Stitched
The Keiskamma Trust Hamburg Women’s Co-operative Keiskamma After Guernica, 2009, Re-cycled Textiles Hand Stitched, 7.8mx3.5m, Courtesy Mandela Bay Development Agency The Tapestry was made by a co-operative of 50 women from the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is based on and is the same size as Picasso’s Guernica. The theme is different – the Keiskamma Guernica tackles AIDS/HIV and its impact on South African women.

 

The exhibition finds a connection between the plan drawing and the tapestry. “Architects and artists employ similar strategies and points of reference – the difference between good and bad work lies in an understanding of that which is shared and common and the ability to transform these ideas into forms and spaces which are both useful and satisfying within the community in which the work is located,” says Noero.

Red Location Museum has won a number of architectural awards, including The Lubetkin Prize from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2006 for the best building in the world outside the UK; an Award of Excellence from The Institute of South African Architects in 2008; and The University of Cape Town Creative Award in 2011.

As a spinoff from exhibiting at the Biennale, Noero has been invited to exhibit at MAXXI – The National Museum of the 21st Century Arts - in Rome, Italy. The MAXXI, opened in 2010, was designed by Zaha Hadid and features works by top architects like Carlo Scarpa, Aldo Rossi and Pier Luigi Nervi, as well as South African artists William Kentridge and Marlene Dumas.

You can watch and embed The Red Location Film, directed by Stephen Hitchcock and David Long, at http://vimeo.com/47520365.

About Noero Architects

Noero Architects was formed in Johannesburg in 1984. It was restyled as Noero Wolff Architects from 1999 to May 2012, when it became Noero Architects once more. The practice has offices in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. For more information, visit www.noeroarchitects.com.

Description of the Exhibition by Jo Noero

Common ground is almost always necessary for transformation, translation and expression in art and architecture. The Tapestry was made by a co-operative of 50 women from the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is based on and is the same size as Picasso’s Guernica. The theme is different – the Keiskamma Geurnica tackles AIDS/HIV and its impact on South Africa. The work shows that good art can achieve common ground between different cultures. It also shows how an idea can survive translation and become a potent expression in a different context. The hand drawn plan of Red Location Precinct, a historic shack settlement, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, illustrates a new cultural centre in a part of the city which was devastated by Apartheid spatial planning. Culture and its manifestations of production, performance and exchange were selected as the core development ideas for the Precinct, in doing so new ways of thinking about city making and architecture in South Africa have been opened up. The drawing examines the various components of the Precinct and traces the movements of people over time. The plan elucidates common ground in city making and architecture despite the differences in terms of site and context-Red location is a shack settlement and is largely occupied by very poor people. A connection is found between the plan drawing and the tapestry. Architects and artists employ similar strategies and points of reference-the difference between good and bad work lies in an understanding of that which is shared and common and the ability to transform these ideas into forms and spaces which are both useful and satisfying within the community in which the work is located.

Description of the Exhibition by La Biennale di Venezia

(Caption at Venice Architecture Biennale)

“South African Architect Jo Noero’s work has always been sensitive to the divided and contested urban conditions of his country’s cities, and his installation here reflects thus through two powerful artworks. One is a 9m-long hand drawing, depicting at 1:100 the Red Location Precinct in Port Elizabeth, a project that proposes common ground in a city torn apart by the urbanistic consequences of apartheid. Next to it is the artwork Keiskamma Guernica, a tapestry made by fifty women from the Hamburg Women’s Co-operative from the Eastern Cape. These two meticulous, labour-intensive works are contrasting and complementary pieces of evidence of an urban condition where common ground is not easily achieved.”

La Biennale di Venezia

Description of Red Location Precinct

Red Location was the first settled, black township of Port Elizabeth. It derives its name from a series of corrugated iron barrack buildings, which are rusted a deep red colour. These were part of a Boer concentration camp in Uitenhage and moved in 1900 to Red Location, where the first urban black families settled. It became a site of struggle during the years of Apartheid. Many prominent political and cultural leaders were either born or lived in Red Location.

The precinct offers up a series of spaces which make a radical departure from the usual city development, which is commonly associated with shopping centres and factories. In choosing culture as the starting point, the project has opened up new ways of thinking about city making and architecture in South Africa. Culture is an aspect of life which ideally includes all peoples. It is the intention of the Red Location Precinct to create spaces which are common and enjoyed by all, where people can gain access to cultural exchange, education and employment.

The project commenced in 1994 with a proposal to develop the area as a cultural precinct mooted by Mr Govan Mbeki and Mr Raymond Mhlaba who had both lived in Red Location for many years. An architectural competition was held in 1998 and the final buildings, which will be completed in 2022 which provides a total of 28 years to complete the Red Location Precinct.

Links

More building specific information about Red Location Precinct 

More information

Interview with Jo Noero at Biennale

Film on Red Location Precinct

Architectural Credits

  • Architects – Museum: Noero Wolff Architects (Jo Noero [Principal] and Heinrich Wolff) in association with John Blair Architect
  • Art Gallery, Library and Archive: Noero Wolff Architects (Jo Noero [Principle] and Robert McGiven) in association with John Blair Architect
  • Note: Noero Wolff Architects has been dissolved. The future work for Red Location will be carried out by Noero Architects.
  • Civil and Structural Engineers – Goba in association with de Villiers and Hulme
  • Quantity Surveyors – Bahm, Tayob, Kahn and Matunda
  • Mechanical and Electrical Engineers – Clinkscales [Eastern Cape]
  • Heritage consultant – Dr Steven Townsend
  • Contractor – SBT [Eastern Cape]

Exhibition Credits

  • Title: COMMON GROUND/DIFFERENT WORLDS
  • Principals-Noero Architects, The Keiskamma Trust Hamburg Women’s Co-Operative
  • Collaborators-Aaron Factor, David Long
  • Sponsors-Mandela Bay Development Agency
Share on Facebook Share
Other News
Pick of the Congress
23 July 2014

Pick of the Congress