Provoking Technophilia: The Umfundisi Tech Centre & Portable Fundi Labs

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This thesis stemmed from the idea that we as a society find it harder and harder to understand even the everyday technologies around us. It is argued that despite the seemingly limitless opportunities for self-learning in the ‘information age’, an interest for the technological is still not fostered within our society. This dissertation is inspired by Cedric Price’s proposal that, “[...]every town should have a space at its disposal where the latest discoveries of engineering and science can provoke an environment for pleasure and discovery[...]”. 1 It started with the search for a spatial models through which people could learn about and experience the essence of technology. The initial research looked at different ways people have learned about technology 1 Stanley Matthews, From Agit-Prop to Free Space: The Architecture of Cedric Price (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2007), 66. throughout history, focusing particular on examples where education could successfully be combined with leisure or recreational activities. It was important that the model proposed, not only taught people, but also inspired a sense of marvel and wonder through engagement with technology . Based on principles gleaned from the research a project was proposed which would manifest itself in two different, but interrelated architectural explorations. The first is a sort of ‘headquarters’ or ‘mothership’ for a new model of the education of technology. It finds itself in the Woodstock industrial area, and would serve as a resource to the greater Cape Town. The second is a prototype for mobile, rail-based workshops that would be developed and manufactured within the headquarters. These units would act as ‘satellites’, spreading the spirit of this movement across the country to areas where the resources for such education may not exist.

Includes bibliographical references.