ArchitectureZA 2018 (#AZA18), Africa’s premier urban cultural festival focused on architecture, will be held at 012central in the Pretoria inner city from 3-5 May 2018. Presented and hosted by the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) and co-hosted by the University of Pretoria (UP) and the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), this three-day festival comprises two days of conference presentations and one day of tours and masterclasses.

Under the theme WeTheCity: Memory & Resilience, the #AZA18 programme will focus on issues of design and practice concerning environmental potential, cultural heritage and human settlement. South African architectural, urban and cultural producers will share experiences and perspectives with cutting-edge international practices from around the world. The programme will include keynote presentations, parallel sessions, student design sessions, films, awards and exhibitions. Architectural and built environment professionals and stakeholders, members of the public, students, designers and artists, economists and urban thinkers are encouraged to attend.

The acceleration in global urbanization – exacerbated by climate change – dramatically shapes the cities in which we live. As a result new opportunities are being created toward compact cities, improved energy consumption, economic and social dynamism, market creation, human development and climate change adaptation. Different scenarios of change are envisaged as to how we live, engage, interact, and survive either as individuals, or as part of a collective within the urban environment.

Cities not only need to be sustainable, but also become more adaptive and diverse so as to be more resilient in the face of such new scenarios. The theme for the AZA 18 considers these scenarios collectively under the heading WeTheCity: Memory and Resilience. The term ‘resilience’ is the ability of a system to absorb, or recover, from certain disturbances without losing its functional identity, while memory refers to the significance of phenomena that hold on to properties that matter to and for a place – it is about objecting to the loss of meaning.

It is against the above background that the role of professional architects is changing, implied by the wording of WeTheCity. The latter is a proclamation, but also a provocation, implying a call for participatory action into how we shape our cities collectively.

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