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Zanzibar: The Many Meanings of Light

March 31, 2023 Matthew Maganga 0

Light — how we perceive the world around us — is an integral, emotive architectural element. Access to light is enhanced and limited in an architectural capacity globally, with architects of expensive tropical dwellings celebrating sunny vistas with expansive glazing, while a wide range of art galleries reject light in its natural form, eliminating it in adherence to the sensitive exhibit requirements of art pieces. Light in an architectural and urban sense is also highly symbolic, evident in the many metropolises of our world, but where this symbolism takes on an interesting dimension is in the archipelago of Zanzibar.

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Utilitarian Creativity: Reinventing and Reading the Silo

March 17, 2023 Matthew Maganga 0

Hulking, imposing, and utilitarian, silos are an enduring urban feature, structures typically used for the storage of materials in bulk. They are important physical elements of the agricultural industry, storing grain, fermented feed, and other foodstuffs. These tall, typically cylindrical forms remain the subject of architectural fascination — from being symbols of technological progress for Modernist architectural figures of the early 20th century, to in contemporary times, instigating inventive approaches to adaptive reuse.

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Architecture of the Cloud: The Data Center Footprint

March 1, 2023 Matthew Maganga 0

In the contemporary context, as has been said a multitude of times, we seem to be living in what is classified as a digital age. A worldwide pandemic has enhanced the popularity of digital avenues to communicate — such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and the multiplatform messaging app WhatsApp is reported to have over 2 billion active users. From an environmental standpoint, we see the migration of businesses to the “cloud” heralded as a sustainability win. In simplified terms and to pick out a specific example, companies can refrain from storing data on external hard drives, opting instead to store their data on online file hosting services.

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The Story of Greenhouses: A Complicated Identity

February 24, 2023 Matthew Maganga 0

The greenhouse is a commonplace architectural typology, a frequent fixture in a host of cities, built to shield plants from the elements — from excess heat or cold or to prolong the growing season of crops. Evidence of the presence of greenhouses in some form stretches as far back as the 1450s during the Korean Joseon dynasty, but it is in the 1700s that the greenhouse was born as a specific architectural form. Glassmaking improved, and thus the largely transparent, wide-span structures we know today were born. Nestled under the intricate iron metalwork of greenhouses are also wider stories — of control and undeserved wealth, and of resistance.

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The Rural vs. The Urban: The Postcolonial City of Dakar in the Film Touki Bouki

January 27, 2023 Matthew Maganga 0

Simultaneously gripping, disconcerting, and chaotic, Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki Bouki is an exhilarating cinematic ride. The 1973 drama — the first full-length film by the Senegalese director — is the fantastical narration of a young couple in Dakar, eager to escape the Senegalese capital for the allure of Paris. It’s a character-driven film in many ways, primarily centered on the couple’s adventures, but it is also a subtle visual examination of the urbanism of post-independence Dakar, where the city and its architecture are essential fixtures in a surreal storyline.

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Sculpting the Earth: Engaging With the “Land” in Land Art

January 13, 2023 Matthew Maganga 0

Artists are frequently inspired by land — be it painter Robert S. Duncanson’s renditions of American landscapes, or William Kentridge’s subversions of colonial-era British paintings depicting African vistas. Some artists, though, have preferred to work directly with the land, creating structures that sit on landscapes, or carving into the land itself. This art style — formally termed as Land Art — gained prominence in 1960s and 70s United States, in the context of the rise of the environmental movement amidst civil rights and antiwar protests, and as artists looked to separate themselves from the art market.

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Colour, Composition, and Scale: Analysing Brutalist Photography

December 26, 2022 Matthew Maganga 0

Sometimes sculptural and expressive, sometimes monolithic and monotonous, the Brutalist architectural style is equal parts diverse and divisive. From its origins as a by-product of the Modernism movement in the 1950s to today, Brutalist buildings, in architectural discourse, remain a popular point of discussion. A likely reason for this endurance is — with their raw concrete textures and dramatic shadows, brutalist buildings commonly photograph really well.

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Living Small: Furniture and Accessibility

December 16, 2022 Matthew Maganga 0

The Youtube channel Never Too Small boasts 2.25 million subscribers — a platform featuring the imaginative manipulation of space in tiny footprints. Videos of micro-apartments, in Paris, London, and beyond, get views in the millions. Clearly, there is a demand for content geared towards living small, as a global housing crisis has precipitated the ever-dwindling availability of affordable, larger-footprint residences in urban areas. Architects, working in this constrained contemporary reality, have been necessitated to make the most out of limited space, configuring sub-40 square-meter floor areas to create a non-claustrophobic spatial experience.

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The Architectural Identity of the State House

December 12, 2022 Matthew Maganga 0

Known as the state house, the presidential palace, and an assortment of other terms — the building that hosts a country’s seat of government is usually quite architecturally striking. Frequently opulent, grand, and sometimes imposing, the state house is intended to function as a visually distinct marker of a nation — an extension of a state’s identity. In the African continent, a landmass that had seen a significant part of it colonized by European nations, this identity of statehood, in an architectural sense, is complex.