Romancing the earth

Whelan, Deborah (2008) Romancing the earth. In: Terra 2008, 1-5 February 2008, Bamako, Mali.

Full text not available from this repository.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


In a post-Apartheid South Africa, the perpetuation and preservation of any architectural history that existed prior to 1994 can be tricky, let alone those buildings constructed from earth. Emotional and political baggage, whether real or imagined, exists. This, together within a larger social and organizational dis-functionalism, creates challenges that have to be met and engaged with at every level.

From a broader perspective, the future of built heritage in most developing countries is inextricably tied to development, or creating the perception of development. In the case study of Georgetown, Edendale, a project with which I have been involved with for the past seven years, this approach is explored. Besides interrogating the larger picture of the connections between local social groups, municipal structures and the greater world of the funder, the real needs and world views of the people that occupy these buildings, and means of overcoming embedded prejudices, is also a critical discourse.

These challenges can be monumental in the eyes of a professional working in contemporary South Africa. Survival, which most of the communities involved are barely managing, does not inculcate enthusiasm, nor deeper investigation of one’s surroundings- it is only through work opportunity that this can be partially overcome, with a variety of other projects that feed off an initial point creating a network and web of possibilities.

Ultimately, I hope to challenge all developing countries, who tend to have a ‘sit back and wait’ attitude, to take control of their own situations from a social and technical point of view.

There is also the hope that wealthy nations can begin to focus more on social issues, and the realities of living in earthen structures in developing countries. This sensitive approach to conservation using developmental techniques is critical in creating a capacity as the main promoter of sustainability.

Keywords:earthen architecture, conservation, development
Subjects:L Social studies > L600 Anthropology
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K190 Architecture not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:29010
Deposited On:06 Oct 2017 12:06

Repository Staff Only: item control page