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swati sopotela


contemplating identity in culture and the architectural expression in south africa

This dissertation is inspired by the apparent lack of representation of South African Nguni tribes in the architectural expression and identity found in the city of Cape Town. By investigating and interrogating the traditional ideas of design of the Nguni peoples of South Africa, the design dissertation seeks ways in which Nguni identity can be celebrated in contemporary Cape Town architecture.

This study is concerned with the ways in which vernacular architecture contributes towards sustainable building technologies and how they could assist in the modern urban environment. The study will focus on the four Nguni tribes namely the Xhosa, Zulu, Ndebele, and the Swati examining their tribal and traditional methods of spatial orientation and meaning, the process of craftsmanship and their architectural artisanship.

The design proposal forms the outcome of studied ‘Nguni’ cultures, creating an architectural typology which best depicts a modern and a proudly South African identity architecture.

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