CAPLA Abroad

South Africa
CAPLA Abroad
  • Apply Now
Dates, Deadlines, and Costs
TermApp DeadlineStart DateEnd DateCost
SummerFebruary 813 May 20199 June 2019Budget
Program Information
  • GPA
  • 2.5
  • Language of Instruction
  • English
  • Foreign Language Requirement
  • No
  • Class Eligibility
  • Graduate, Junior, Senior, Sophomore
  • Program Open To
  • UA and Non-UA Students
  • Credit Type
  • UA Direct Credit
  • Level of Study
  • Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Housing Options
  • Varies
  • Program Type
  • UA Faculty-led
Program Overview

A Month-long tour through South Africa studying how we experience architecture through art, music, photography, craft and culture.

Program Information

The teaching program will explore how experiences of architecture are

created,      [when we design]


received,    [when we visit what is already designed]

by articulating the two realms through which these experiences are derived from:

the primordial    [the real around our bodies that we feel: matter, space and light]


the fictional         [the story in our minds that we read: rational deduction through signs]


The teaching program will be taught through two courses, a ‘creation of’ and a ‘receiving of’ course that will each focus on the two realms that we experience architecture through:

ARC 496c/596c, Practice Elective: Creating Experience in Architecture

[creation of] phenomena

A practical hands-on course that will require students to create physical artifacts, land art installations, urban interventions and other hands-on projects while continuously articulating that which is influenced by the fictional, and that which is influenced by the primordial.

ARC 496b/5976b, History Elective: Receiving Experience in Architecture

[receiving of] phenomena

A theoretical course that will require students to heighten their awareness of phenomena through the fictional and primordial realms. The course will mainly focus on architecture but also include visual art, theater, music and other cultural fields.


Both courses will delve deeper into the subject outline by investigating the following four topics:

Humans are central to architecture

Without us, architecture would not exist. Not only because there would be nobody to create it, but neither would there be anybody to inhabit it. Our experience of architecture, puts architecture into existence. Buildings are therefore only a channel in architecture, not an end result in themselves. Through buildings, space is created and through space sensory signals are translated into experiences within us.

Areas of investigation:

- What happens to architecture when humans disappear?

- Which design decisions are made for the building, which are made for the experiencing self?

- What is the ‘first and foremost’ reason for any building or object that is designed.

Architectural experience exist in two realms

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre by Peter Rich

The one group of signals work through our bodies. These signals are objective and relate to our primordial selves, like shelter, warmth and natural light. Another group of signals are fictional and only works through the mind. These signals are created by a subjective, cultural story-screen based on the historical exposure of each individual creating “style”, “meaning” or “modern”.

Areas of investigation:

- Where does this divide originate from?

- How are each of these methods defined. What are they? What are examples of each?

- How is the ‘story-screen’ influenced by culture?

- Is the primordial experience the true experience? Is this what constitutes a timeless design?

- Is one realm better or more relevant than the other?

- What is pre-programmed and what is derived from our individual lives?

The building is not one thing

We do not experience the building, we experience a visit to the building. Each visit is made up of a series of events: the approach, the threshold, the look into the atrium, etc. As an event does not solely rely on space, but also time, it is unique, subjective and can never be replicated or repeated.

Areas of investigation:

- What are the place-specific conditions of an event? The viewer’s story screen, background, companions etc.

- What are time-specific conditions of an event. Time of day, building age, etc.

- If the building is not one thing, why do we draw it like that (elevations, birds eye views of 3D models etc.)? Should we rather not design and draw each event?

- If the event is unique and singular, why do we say “you should also see that building” rather than “you should have been there”.

- If the building is experienced through events, what becomes of the role of form in architecture?

- Is the construction of a building also an event? (Heidegger)

Design input is not necessarily equal to experiential output

All factors influencing the viewer’s reception of architecture, also plays a role in the creation of it. Subjective decisions of the architect are assumed to be picked up directly by the viewer but is instead going through a web of interwoven channels that distorts and changes the experiential output of each event.

Areas of investigation:

- By identifying and analysing the two types of experiences, can we have a more direct relation between the design intension and the experiential result?

- If the story-screen is subjective and short-lived, can its use ever be justified in the long-lived arena of architecture?


South Africa will serve as an ideal stage for this program as it relates directly to the theoretical area of investigation through the country’s rich diversity and heritage of people, culture and history. The country’s hands-on approach and excellent collection of buildings further provide a great platform for each of the two courses.

Students will be exposed to a diverse array of experiences through architecture, urbanism and other art forms spanning the entire history of the country. This span reaches from the Indigenous and African Vernacular, through the European Vernacular, Colonial, Modern Apartheid-era and Post-apartheid periods and into a future vision of where the country is heading into the next century.

Within this historical span, works of architects such as Sir Herbert Baker, Gawie Fagan, Hans Hallen and Mashabane Rose, musicians like the late Hugh Masekela, artists like William Kentridge and photographers like Roger Ballen will serve as good examples to help each student articulate experiential values within different creative fields.

Notable architectural works will include The Apartheids Museum, Freedon Park, Hector Peterson Memorial, ‘Die S’ House, The Red Location Museum, Walter Sisulu Square, Witts Art Museum and the recently completed Zeitz Mocaa Museum. Other natural, historical and cultural places of interest can also be visited such as Robben Island and Table Mountain.

The tour could also extend into neighboring countries, notably Mozambique, to see mid-century modern works by Pancho Guedes and Alberto Soeiro.


Content will be posted soon!

<< Return to Search Results