The role of architecture in the democratisation of South Africa in disadvantaged communities : a design of a civic centre for Mpumalanga Township.
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In the field of architecture the socio-cultural factors have been deterministic in the formation of place, conditions within them and consequently, social relations. Sociologists, anthropologists and environmentalist have advocated that buildings are essentially social and cultural products - King (1980), Rapoport (1969; 1976; 1977) and Bartuska & Young (1994). Architecture that addresses the human socio-cultural factors has been advocated to make a significant contribution to human life; it fosters a sense of belonging, well being and involvement. South Africa has endured years of colonisation and apartheid ruling, this has also reflected on its built environment. It was planned and designed to communicate and reinforce the dominance of the ruling regime which thus transformed the local populace by incorporating them into their political, economic and social value systems. The political shift of 1994 has however (from apartheid to a democratic ruling state) facilitated a renewed interest in acknowledging peoples differences, their unique characteristics and celebrating the diverse nature of a heterogeneous society. The democratisation of South Africa has brought about a major shift in the social and cultural context of the society which in turn has affected the built environment and architecture. It is in this context that this study explores the nature of the transformation, its ideals and principles so to inform the making of environments that help uplift the populace and to integrate our multicultural society while simultaneously celebrating, facilitating and accommodating the diverse cultures of the groups within it. Thus as professionals involved in the design of the built environment, there is an urgent need to identify and understand the socio-culture of society due to the political shift in South Africa in order to orientate in the right direction towards playing a role in the democritisation of South Africa. Hence the topic: The role of architecture in the democritisation of South Africa.