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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

HEINRICH WOLFF (article first published : 2007-11-9)

After a successful showing in Berlin, Germany, the works of winner Heinrich Wolff and fellow nominees of the 2007 DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Architecture return to South Africa for an exhibition which will be presented in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

The DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Architecture is the seventh Arts Award bestowed by DaimlerChrysler. Since 2000, the company has sponsored different art disciplines and recognised artists within the fields of contemporary art: (Kay Hassan), jazz (Themba Mkhize), sculpture (Jane Alexander), choreography (Sbo Ndaba), creative photography (Guy Tillim) and poetry (Gabeba Baderoon).

The award offers support to talented and innovative artists from South Africa and helps raise the profile of these artists at national and international level with winners invited to present their bodies of work overseas.

Heinrich Wolff won the 2007 DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Architecture earlier this year. He became a partner in the Cape Town-based architectural firm, Noero Wolff Architects, in 1998. Over the past nine years, he has been involved in teaching design, construction and theory at various universities, and focuses on the themes: Third World architecture, material culture, architecture and landscape, and multiple outcomes. His architectural work includes residential, commercial, low-cost housing, educational and health facilities.

“I grew up on the privileged side of an unfair society and I feel compelled to contribute in effort and in ideas to the physical and intellectual reconstruction of the country,” he says. “For me this means purposefully engaging in projects that go across boundaries of race, income group, received or constructed culture or historical categories. It would be unsatisfactory to think that great architectural opportunity would lie only with wealthy clients or international commissions where South African social-economic realities do not exist.”

He adds: “All too often, architecture produced in South Africa desperately subscribes to international expressions without sharing the context that brings that work into being. It is one thing to participate in international debate; it is a different thing to deny your own reality. If architectural ideas do not have equal currency for the poor like it has for the rich, then those ideas lack substance in our context.”

A monographic catalogue devoted to Heinrich Wolff and a separate publication featuring the eight nominees – Wolff, Archilab, Heather Dodd, Andy Horn, Ndabo Langa, Henning Rassmuss and Chris Wilkinson, accompany the exhibition.

DaimlerChrysler South African Architecture exhibition runs at the Durban Art Gallery from November: 9 to January 13, 2008. Thereafter, it will move to the South African National Gallery in Cape Town before returning to Germany for a final showing at 4 Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Germany, from April 25 to August 31 2008.




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