Page 20

AfrikaUK

With the Dordabis Community Spine the South African architects 20  Droomer & Christensen are attempting to activate public space in a village where social life traditionally takes place in less firmly established spaces. As a dynamic backbone in the landscape the ‘spine’ underscores the many functions that the fence has in the traditional Namibian village: it creates connections, it is a pathway, a boundary and a place for activities. The Dordabis Community Spine began as a sculpture in the landscape that slowly developed into a cultural gathering-place. An amphitheatre and stage have been established, and a number of market stalls are on the drawing board THE FENCE In many rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa, fences mark the outer and inner boundaries of a village that is made up of a number of households. The fence divides and unites. It divides between village insiders and outsiders, who are sometimes enemies, and it unites the village residents as a collective. Inside the village, the space might be further subdivided with fences around each household and even within the household where it creates divisions between co-wives or between different generations. While the village fences often trace a concave line, the huts within the fence are circular. By contrast, fences in urban areas mark straight lines and separate rectangular and square areas with rectangular houses within. Differing greatly in size and diameter, the fence defines an enclosure that contains a varied number of households. In many rural areas, households within the fence are imagined as being related by kinship, whereas, in reality, members of the community come from many different clans. Construction materials vary greatly. In Karamoja in northern Uganda, the fence surrounding the settlement is constructed of rather thick pieces of wood that are all weaved together and have the height of a grown up man. The fence is effectively a fortress, which serves the purpose of keeping enemies out of the compound. Likewise, each household has its own fence that demarcates its boundaries in relation to other households just as it serves to keep enemies out. Effectively, this makes the interior of a compound a labyrinth of narrow and fenced off parts that one has to navigate when entering the compound. Some of these parts are deliberately constructed as dead ends in order to confuse an enemy that succeeds in entering the compound. Similarly, all openings into the village as well as between households are extremely narrow, which forces visitors and, indeed, enemies to crawl when entering.   Morten Nielsen DROOMER & CHRISTENSEN /  NAMIBIA: DORDABIS COMMUNITY SPINE, NAMIBIA, 2014


AfrikaUK
To see the actual publication please follow the link above