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Exploring the artistic and cultural expression in architecture: towards an art and performance center in Durban.

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Artistic and cultural expression roots itself in the existence of human beings. Expression and Memories, experiences and culture define the way space and architecture is perceived. In a complex society with historical disparagement, expression is crucial in Durban’s search for an authentic city image. Inhabitants do not feel connected or apart of the city in which they belong. Art expression is evident throughout the city and is strongly connected to cultures and how meaning is derived. Unfortunately, cultural and artistic promotion within the city is lacking and the few spaces which facilitate expression are not celebrated and accommodated within the city. The urban fabric has been affected by past regimes. These have imposed architectural and spatial responses which has resulted in a depersonalised and unfamiliar city with an image which is being developed with a globalised criterion. Architecture is a crucial factor in the image of the city, arguably it is the main contribution to the image encapsulating culture and identity. Additionally, architecture houses and provides shelter for inhabitants, thus architecture responds to the needs and desires of society which inevitably considers the complexity of culture. Symbolism and artistic and cultural expression are essential notions which contribute to the design of contextually relevant and inclusive architecture. These concepts are discussed further within the dissertation due to its significance in identity and connection through the association of signifiers. This dissertation explores artistic and cultural expression through architecture in Durban which generates a contextual image. The study will explore research involving concepts and discourse around culture, symbolism and expressionism. Furthermore, precedented architectural responses will be identified to portray the conceptual and theoretical capabilities of form and space. Literature, precedent studies and case studies are analysed to identify criteria, approaches, principles and recommendations for the outcome of the study, which is a proposed Art and Performance Center in the city of Durban.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.