Theatre of the Blind

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CONTEXT
The Theatre of the Blind is situated within the ruin of Fort Wonderboompoort, Pretoria, South Africa.
The ruin elicits the notion of dereliction and decay, giving rise to the notion of a conflict we are so increasingly involved with, from wars fought to gain land or peace, to the war on terror, the war against pollution etc. We are a world in conflict. This gave rise to the idea of creating a theatre for the blind passenger, us as human beings. The theatre is situated within and around the decay, accting as both a perpetrator and victim of conflict.
The ruin sits on the edge of a dense CBD, forgotten and left behind. It has become consumed by time since its demolition during WWII.

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Site investigation

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Site Timeline corresponding with events of conflict

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Site material palette

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‘To interact with the world on a phenomenal level is to discover the instabilities of self in the world’
From and architectural implementation perspective the proposal for the architecture is to act as a diametrical theatre. A theatre being a place for reproduction, performance, imagery and simulation. It begins to address the hollow imagery of contemporary society. The theatrical museum challenges the conventions of the spectator’s ‘pre-eminintly’ visual experience which is achieved as the performance exists in a site not constructed to support the act of passive watching. The non-theatre site becoms theatrical with physical
presence of the audience, transforming the site from place [location] into space [act]. In essence a museum of conflict is proposed, in opposition to the mortification of history, rather history becomes a narrative for future and present society.
Choreographing space. This draws upon the surrealist notions of fragmentation and the rearrangement of elements in order to raise questions about the nature of reality. When space is choreographed [theatre] – it
becomes an exploration into the overlaps of space, movement and performance. The user/audience [museum] is transformed into a performer [theatre]. Space & movement become one
continuous experience which oscillates between static and dynamic states. A dialogue is
established in which the audience is assimilated as active participants in space, establishing a theatre of conflict.

Design exploration sketches

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Conceptual diagram indicating the response to site and manifestation of architectural intent

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 Diagrams indicating programmatic response and its spatial relationship with the architecture

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ABOVE: Diagram indicates an extension to programme, leading to possible spatial scenarios in order to achieve or reject the hypothesis
BELOW: This diagram illustrates three heritage response in terms of what is regarded as significant , being, cultural heritage, the site forming part of the development of various cultures over time, social & aesthetic value through its ruination and social connection and lastly historical value due to the ruin’s role in the founding and safegaurding of the city of Pretoria.

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Ground Floor Plan

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FIrst Spatial Encounter: Spaces on ground floor, within the ruin/fortress correspond to the notion of victim, with the spaces weighing down on the ruined fortress from above corresponding to perpetrator spaces.

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Second Spatial Encounter: The same spatial language is applied in the conflict archive, where personal artifacts are left behind in the journey, a personal narrative of conflict is developed through the journey and document, and ultimately stored to act as a present and future reminder of ruin and its role.

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Third Spatial Encounter: Tunnel of reflection allows for users to interact with the surrounding nature reserve, the tunnel leads out and down the mountain, seperating into various paths of exploration that narrate the story of place.

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Upon ending the journey, a personal account of the journey of conflict and the theatre of the blind is documented and stored. The user descends into the rampart, which has manifested itself in built form. Where the user entered the fortress on floating platforms and forced stairways with focussed views, one could not access the open plain that lay at the feet of the fortress. The end of the journey allows one to walk onto this plain in reflection, one begins to see the ruination for what it is, along with the new sprouting from the old, but that simultaneously opresses the old and weak, as it is with conflict.

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Views from the plain

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Diagram above illustrates natural daylighting levels. The intention is to not make use of any artificial lighting, allowing for time to govern time of use.

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Source: https://www.behance.net/gallery/18954751/Theatre-of-the-Blind by https://www.behance.net/justin_coetzee is licensed under cc by-nc (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/deed.en_US)