Caption: Co-founder of Urban-Think Tank Alfredo Brillembourg (left) and architectural historian and theorist, Beatriz Colomina (right) from Princeton University in the United States will speak at one of Africa’s first and largest premier urban culture and design festivals, ArchitectureZA 2015 (AZA2015). The event is proudly hosted by the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) set to take place in Johannesburg from 24 to 26 September 2015.

This year’s ArchitectureZA 2015 (AZA2015) boasts an impressive line-up of international speakers with a wealth of varied and fascinating contributions to the world of architecture. With captivating speakers from around the world and locally, AZA2015 is set to present the latest trends and newest ideas whilst giving many an opportunity to learn from and network with top international names in in the world of architecture and design. The fifth annual AZA event takes place at The Sheds @ 1 Fox in Newtown, Johannesburg from 24 – 26 September 2015.

Among the international line up is architectural historian and theorist Beatriz Colomina, from Princeton University in the United States. Her work on architecture and media has been published in over 25 languages and her curated exhibition, Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X-197X has toured eleven countries, including exhibitions such as Documenta 12 and The Architectural Association. Colomina and her partner, Mark Wigley will also be directing the highly anticipated Istanbul Design Biennale next year.

Colomina is expected to speak about the new thinking around biology and architecture, particularly the potentials of neuroscience. She is currently working on a book titled X-Ray Architecture which focuses on the impact of medical technologies on architecture.

“The most important transformation in social and cultural life since 2000 has been the arrival of social media and a culture of surveillance. This has enormous consequences for architecture; what is regarded as being private and what is public has been radically transformed,” says Colomina.

The architect’s chief role, according to Colomina, is to make people think about the space they live in. With these latest major social transformations, a designer also has to rethink the way problems are framed. “Everything needs to be rethought in light of the population explosion and information explosion and the way our lives have been transformed with the internet and social media,” says Colomina.

New York born co-founder of Urban-Think Tank (U-TT), Alfredo Brillembourg, is also not to be missed at AZA2015. Brillembourg is no stranger to South Africa, and was a guest speaker at the 2012 Design Indaba. There, Slum Dwellers International introduced him to Ikhayalami, which lead to a partnership in seeking to upgrade informal settlements in Cape Town with a unique double story shack design. This ‘Empower Shack’ collaboration is a perfect fit for U-TT, which has worked extensively in designing social architecture in developing contexts worldwide.

Speaking about the shack design, Brillembourg says, “We thought, that if we could develop a prototype that distributes the living area over two floors, we could then recover double the amount of footprint area currently occupied by the existing shacks. This would provide enough space to develop the urban qualities currently lacking in the densely built urban fabric of the settlements.” One hundred double-story shacks at two sites in Cape Town are expected to be completed by the middle of next year.

Brillembourg’s focus is on serving social needs through well designed, sustainable physical forms: “From our beginnings in Caracas, to our more recent activities in South Africa, Colombia and elsewhere, we have sought to work with communities and partners to reimagine the possibilities of life in the informal city.”

Like a true architectural visionary, Brillembourg wants to push future boundaries in how cities extend upwards. “The big question is if the city is up in the air, towers can take on any shape. Towers no longer have to respect the rationality of the city grid once we are up in the air.”

London based architectural designer, Julia King is another captivating speaker at AZA2015. King has a special focus on sanitation and participatory processes in developing countries. She will share insights from her sanitation and housing projects in India which form part of her PhD ‘Incremental Cities’.

Palestinian architect and writer, Suad Amiry will also speak at the highly anticipated event, sharing insights from her experiences as founder of Riwaq: the Centre for Architectural Conservation which documents and restores architectural heritage sites across the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza.

AZA2015 is not just a conference; there will be master classes, workshops and multitude of public events. It is an opportunity for interested participants from non-design disciplines to share in the future of South Africa’s cities and be part of the regeneration of major urban life, right in the heart of Johannesburg.

AZA2015 is proudly hosted by the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) and sponsored by PPC Ltd. Affiliated partners include: the Gauteng Institute for Architecture (Gifa) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ.) For more information about AZA2015, visit AZA2015 is also on Facebook (