Sound Incubator: South African Music Library; Improv and Live Performance at the gateway to Alexandra, Johannesburg

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University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Sound is not just an abstract concept; it is an instrument of expression in South Africa. It serves as a means to praise or protest, to unite or disperse, to energize or to mourn. Sound is not confined to a vacuum; rather, it exists within the realm of physical space and unfolds over time. In this regard, sound and architecture share an intrinsic connection as they both occupy and shape the spaces they inhabit. This thesis embarks on a journey to unravel the intricate interplay between sound and architecture within the dynamic context of Johannesburg, South Africa. The focal point of this exploration is the ‘Sound Incubator,’ a speculative architectural intervention designed to facilitate live performances. Its purpose is to foster artistic talent by deliberately intersecting diverse artists, thereby igniting creativity and safeguarding cultural heritage. My investigation commences with South African music and live performance, recognizing their immense cultural, social, and economic potential while acknowledging the scarcity of suitable venues for these experiences. I then delve into the essential architectural considerations, encompassing acoustics, psycho-acoustics, psychogeography, the symbiotic relationship between music and architecture, and the role of improvisation as a means of creation and learning. Amidst the intricate tapestry of Alexandra township in Johannesburg, a community shaped by ongoing political struggles and rapid urbanisation, we find a resourceful, rhythmical, and diverse population deeply committed to the arts. The current and historic soundscape of Alexandra, which exists in an improvised state of survival – provides the ideal context for the Sound Incubator.
A research report proposal submitted to the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional). School of Architecture & Planning. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Sound, South Africa, Intrinsic connection, Johannesburg, South Incubator, Acoustics, Psycho-acoustics, Psychogeography, Alexandra Township, South African Music