COMMERCIAL FLOORING | United Arab Emirates
  Architects' support: Creative activity in a Township

With "AIT-Charity" the publishing company of the architectural magazine AIT initiated a completely new project. Together with the comprehensive support of the Armstrong company the Charity Campaign 2008 in South Africa has made possible.

Although apartheid in South Africa is a thing of the past, the effects of racial segregation still has a terrible presence throughout the country. In 24 months the world will be the guests of the nation to celebrate the World Football Cup, where, football fans will inevitably also be affected. In the past few years some townships have advanced and developed into residential districts with a growing economic purchasing power, but this has unfortunately been the minority. Huge areas still count among the most terrible mass camps in the world.

Cape Town architect Caren Smuts counts among those people, who have with their projects of participatory building worked on fundamental improvements in the townships for many years. AIT-readers are familiar with her buildings from various publications. Her community centres in Luanga and Njanga have become bridgeheads of culture, education, and social responsibility. Here street children are occupied and young people are qualified, old and disabled people improve their abilities and steps are taken against gang crimes in the slums.

For many years AIT and their readers have been guests in these facilities. Now the opportunity presented itself to return the favour.

Ten renowned international architects, all of them focusing in the field of social housing and healthcare, accepted the invitation of AIT and Armstrong to join them in South Africa. At the beginning of April they worked for two days in the Guga S`Thebe cultural centre in the Luanga Township on the outskirts of Cape Town. During this time they created a series of large-scale prints together with children and youths from the township, working with special DLW Linoleum. For the children of the "Gum Boot Dance" dance group, this collaboration with European architects was the highlight of their holiday. For the architects the stay in the township was a reminder that architecture has always had a social, even world-improving approach. Whilst they are building high-tech clinics for hundreds of millions of Euros in Spain or Scandinavia, in Germany or the Netherlands, Luanga lacks the basic necessities - although dramatic improvements of living conditions can be realised with only a few Euros.

The international group of architects AIT and Armstrong have supported their helpers from the "Gum Boot Dance" children's group on site. How the charity campaign will be continued, what linocuts have actually been created, and how AIT-readers and Armstrong clients can support the project with individual contributions, will regularly be the subjects of upcoming issues of the Armstrong-newsletter.