Duduza Resource Centre

Name Duduza Resource Centre
Client Duduza Resource Trust
Location Duduza, East Rand
Status Built, 1990

This centre was one of several designed by the architects in the 1980s. These buildings were funded externally and were managed by the NGO sector in the country. Essentially the purpose of these centres was to provide a place of support for all kinds of people who lived in townships at the time and who were denied access to the most basic services and advice.

The design strategy was to organize all activities along a street which ran through the site and along which a range of social services was offered, with signage that is not dissimilar to that found in shopping strips. The intention was to use a system of movement that was familiar to the people who would be using the center.

The structural order and the use of materials and their jointing is both familiar and didactic. It is familiar since it borrows its language from the adjacent shack settlements. This is a deliberate strategy since it was felt that the shacks represent a potent energy source and it was important to build on this idea. It was felt that by using these systems of order and structure, but in a more sophisticated manner, the labor of these people who had built their own shacks would be honored.

Similarly the manner of joining materials was deliberately didactic. People could both see and understand how the buildings were put together.

It was thought that this would have two-fold benefits. Firstly people could learn about how to build better within the systems that they knew. Secondly the appreciation of the building and its design would become literally transparent and would offer itself up to engagement by people at a very basic level.

These buildings comprised a very unusual typology which grew out of desperate times. In a sense, one could argue that their purposes were made redundant  once liberation had been achieved.

The challenges to adjust the spaces of these centres to meet new needs has not yet been taken up and one wonders whether they will simply become relics representative of a time long gone by when local people felt sufficiently moved to take action into their own hands and rise up against an unjust system.