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Books on South African architecture. A tribute to Nelson Mandela

[.en] Last December, Book of the month‘s theme was South African architecture, a small exhibition with the aim of paying our own tribute to Nelson Mandela. Madiba, as he was known in the country which he presided from 1994 to 1999, was the architect of the South African reconciliation, leaving behind the dark history of the Apartheid.

The chosen book is titled “Blank: architecture, apartheid and after” a compilation of essays which seek to present the complexities of the built environment and the deep structures of divisive spatial planning in South Africa. This division of space was essential for the preservation of racial segregation as is described by Lisa Findley in “Red & Gold: A Tale of Two Apartheid Museums”:

“From the window of an airplane it’s all too plain that apartheid has been deeply written into the South African landscape. Even the smallest town appears as two distinct towns. One features” a spacious grid of tree-lined streets and comfortable houses surrounded by lawns. The other, its shrivelled twin, some distance away but connected by a well-traveled road, consists of a much tighter grid of dirt roads lined with shacks. Trees are a rarity, lawns non-existent. This doubling pattern appears no matter the size of the population: here, the white town; over there, the black township.”

Also featured in this exhibition are: “Contemporary architecture: South Africa”, “Fast forward Johannesburg: new architecture and urban planning in South Africa” and “Cape Town: architecture & design”. This bibliographic exhibition can be seen in the Ground Floor of this library.

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