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UIA2014 & de Volkskrant

Last week the UIA2014 congress took place in Durban -South Africa, titled ’Otherwhere’. It brought architects and educators together from all over the world. It was the first time it took place on the African continent and for many participants it was indeed the first time, hence perhaps the title. Due to its location, it was well visited by African representatives and in the programme the continent was reflected appropriately. There was attention for the specific conditions and context, for which the presentation of Francis Kéré was spot on. Perhaps the high speed presentation of Rahul Mehrotra was most inspiring, with a waterfall of examples that show how important a critical position of the architect is in projects that are pushing boundaries and create broad ownership. And most important: not to be afraid to revisit projects, analyse successes and be honest about failures. The presentation of Toyo Ito came as a shock and from out-of-space, after days of discussing how to operate as architect in a world in which resources are scarce, communication with and involvement of users and communities are the basis of a project. It was obvious that the feeling that architects have something to offer to a better future is back, but this was not clear from the projects that Ito showed.