"Kinshasa", metamorph of midnight: the everyday as public performance

Luzolo, Merry El'kipuni Popol
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As a former colonial city, Kinshasa today has developed into a giant metropolis where grand visions, failed realisations and adaptation based on survival seems to succeed and sometimes overlay each other in a complex and heterogeneous urban fabric. Where the colonial planning attempted to create clear zones of separation between the white city and the indigenous suburbs, the post-colonial politics of urbanization have taken a different shift. The spectral ambitions of the leaders on one side and the random occupation of space by city dwellers on the other have resulted in a struggle of power to define and re-appropriate public space in an attempt to create the proper city. Situated on Avenue Bar. Jacques, in an area where the physical and mental tensions that marks the edge of la Ville and la Cité are still perceptible, I propose a performance hub for the everyday. Here staged events just like the spontaneous, and sometimes theatrical, appropriation of space by daily activities will constitute performances. By creating a new synergy between conventionally opposed notions such as formal and informal, old and new, and staged and ambient, this project is an exploration of a model of space-making that breaks away from the authoritarian approach that has punctuated (continues to do so) the shaping of the urban landscape of Kinshasa. Informants for the design derive from patterns and elements that characterize the resilient ways in which the city’s life recreates itself on a daily basis. The urban framework proposes to bridge the Central Market and the City Centre in a soft, egalitarian way where the transformation in the urban character across this area is no longer so harsh. Through themes such as temporality, hybridity and adaptability, this project attempts to form an argument to what Kinshasa’s architecture should lend itself to by blurring the distinction between what is still considered centre and periphery.
This document is submitted in partial fulfilment for the degree: Master of Architecture [Professional] at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, in the year 2015
Luzolo, Merry El'kipuni Popol (2016) "Kinshasa", metamorph of midnight: the everyday as public performance, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, < http://wiredspace.wits.ac.za/handle/10539/22186>