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mpho sephelane

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re[covering] place: african ways of seeing, making, and thinking as a call to rethink and remake places in cities

By using the Basotho blanket as a point of entry, this dissertation investigates issues of recovery and preservation of traditional African knowledge systems, and how they can be translated into the making of contemporary space. The blanket revealed an interesting cross pollinating of cultures and an ability to embody the tangible and intangible infrastructures that shape the identity of the Basotho people. The project proposes the use of the Basotho blanket, as symbolic artefact of cultural preservation and continuum through architecture. This is explored through its connections to traditional practices such as litema practice, communal relatedness and connection to nature in the creation of symbolic form and space. These aspects, together with ideas of the production of social space, Bernard Tschumi’s reinterpretation of these ideas architecturally, filmic montage, and Francis Kere’s work in rural and urban contexts are investigated as an means to develop a framework of lessons to apply in the making of the project. Finally, the tangible and intangible associations of the blanket, translated into an architecture that engenders a revival of traditional practices through tectonic agency, relatedness to context and creation of communal linkages in Maseru, Lesotho.

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