Human library: a knowledge navigation centre for the University of the Free State
Jordaan, Markus Louis
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The current project springs from a tradition of naming a building on the UFS main campus for a former vice chancellor. Here this tradition is used to inform a proposed heritage project for the current vice chancellor, Jonathan Jansen. Historically, these buildings have not necessarily had any relation to the academic or social contribution of the rector it represents. This project argues for greater synergy between the naming and claiming of physical space on campus and the embodiment of the vice chancellor for whom it is traditionally named. The present project illustrates this by embodying the pedagogical ethos of the current vice chancellor in the design of a "human library" which combines his public emphasis on social transformation and the merging of the "human" and "academic project" on campus. Integral to the design is Jansen's identification of nine key elements of the narratives inherent to post-Apartheid pedagogy. His approach to education, with its strong emphasis on social and knowledge transformation, veers away from the tree-like traditional hierarchical knowledge organizational principles and resemble French philosophers' Deleuze and Guattari's idea of the rhizome. Tensegrity, developed by Buckminster Fuller as architectonic principle, is chosen to map the web-like rhizome onto a physical representation of the human library on campus. An analysis of micro and macro contexts, both physical and metaphysical is made. Precedents and case studies are used to illustrate the theoretical engagement with Deleuze and Guattari as well as Jansen's Knowledge in the Blood (2009). This in turn defines the design brief and accommodation schedule.
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