Freedom of Expression Forum: principles of protest reinterpreted as place
Van Niekerk, Nilene
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The focus of this dissertation stems from the interest of objectifying a non-architectural contemporary problem in South Africa by means of symbolic representation, so that the conceived may become the perceived. This dissertation questions whether there is an analogy between architecture and linguistics and attempts to determine to what extent architecture can communicate through the process of signification. It was within this framework of addressing a contemporary problem that the intimidation of journalists by the controversial Secrecy Bill became an insightful investigation of a significant contemprary problem in South Africa. Although freedom of expression and freedom of the press are generally protected practices in South Africa's constitution, the persistent role of the government to protect state information is a substantial threat to citizen's constitutional right of freedom of expression. This investigation gave form to an institutional architectural intervention that creates a meaningful symbolic place that provides protection to journalists, and become a pivotal point where classified information can be sent to and archived, as well as establishing a public space that encourages communication, all in the name of fostering the right of freedom of expression. Thus the proposed architectural intervention realised into a Freedom of Expression Forum. By placing the Freedom of Expression Forum within the direct vicinity of the Constitutional Court, the architectural language took on the form of protest, becoming a symbolic way of emphasising, contradicting and commenting on the existing beacons of freedom at Constitutional Hill. It is through this attempt to preserve the symbolic freedom of the Constitutional Court that the proposed dissertation argues the need for the objectification of the problem through a physical architectural intervention that constantly reminds the journalists, who are challenging the threat, and those who are threatening the freedom of expression, of the importance of this fundamental right.