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Everywhere Is Here - Architecture and a Developing Information Society

Part 2 Dissertation 2010
Guy Ailion
University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg | South Africa
'Bit by Bit' Society is slowly moving through an Information Age that is being defined by a global shift towards a need for increased information. We are in an era of digital information, where the ability to access the world’s knowledge from anywhere and by anyone is a reality - but not yet accessible for communities on the other side of the digital divide. This presents a setback for both the sustainable and cultural growth of developing nations.
With technology becoming cheaper and faster this digital divide is more than a lack of hardware - it’s a cultural divide. Nurturing information societies in a developing context needs a bottom-up approach that applies to local cultures and methods of interaction in keeping with global trends of the Information Age.
Today, design is human centered, and although architecture has always imbued a relationship with technology, when designing architecture for developing an information society, an understanding of context and culture becomes paramount to achieving spaces that encourage participation, sustainability, and buildings that break the stigma of information technology. The first sustainable steps to embracing this new era of digital information is providing free access and awareness to the world’s knowledge and to incorporate interfaces and programmed spaces that relate to a specific culture’s needs and habits.
With a renewed approach involving participation, awareness, and immersive environments for both the production and consumption of digital knowledge the contemporary library and public space have the potential for narrowing the cultural divide. The new information platform replaces the traditional spaces of knowledge previously limited to the archetypal library - This is the Open Information Campus, Kliptown, Soweto, 2009.

The Open Information Campus blurs the threshold between a street market and a civic building. The buildings spaces focus peer review and connect multiple programmed spaces through visual lines of site.

By focusing on a practical developing world response,the project is dedicated to developing an informal settlement’s community to become active and participatory Generations X to Z, while promoting sustainable entrepreneurship, self study, and cross-cultural expression out of Africa.

Guy Ailion

Given the digital divide so appropriately identified by this project, it might be expected that little could be done to respond to such a daunting chasm, one in which architecture offers the least likely means of addressing another social dilemma. Instead Guy Ailion has taken up the challenge and developed a building that not only breaches the highly developed media barrier that exists in one of the poorest areas of Johannesburg, namely Kliptown, but does so in a manner that offers public space, youth friendly scenarios and practical approaches to rethinking types, such as the library and civic facility (in an age where the informal is only just beginning to establish a place alongside the private spaces of consumption).

Here all the in-depth research and nuances of web trawling have allowed Guy to bring together these disparate worlds with an architectural thesis that asks the important questions and offers some highly focused and original answers.

Prof. Randall Bird
Professor Hilton Judin
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