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Making place for petty crimes : an exploration into the use of boundaries as a vehicle for generating an appropriate response to the complexities of urban courts

By Louiza Rademan


Boundaries form a critical part of any architectural process. During my years of study I was continuously confronted with the word 'boundary; and the function thereof. Where do we find it in architecture and the cities we live in? Martin Heidegger notes that a boundary is not that at which something stops, but as recognized by the Greek, the boundary is that from which something begins its existence. Boundaries either invite or exclude. We all follow the lines created by architecture in our everyday life, and our movement through places are regulated by them. Whether the boundary is between public or private, open or enclosed spaces, it should be seen as a starting point for the journey. What is the role of boundaries in law architecture and at what point does it invite or exclude the public on the journey. To address the question, the terms 'superiority' and 'exclusivity' in law buildings will be explored through investigating the appearance of traditional law courts. What impression the architecture left behind and the boundaries they've established. The architecture of courthouses originated from past movements which resemble cathedral like structures. These courthouses were designed with power to create a sovereign atmosphere over the entire city and establishing fear amongst the people for the law. The grand columns on a court's front facade created the impression of looking up towards the king and then to God. The characteristics of these courthouses are universal, which create court typologies that can be located anywhere in the world. In South Africa, where the principle of 'moving forward' guides a diverse society through history, it is important that the architecture of law buildings is not 'left behind: Our current courthouses represent the past, and have left the majority with a pessimistic perception of law and justice. The transformation which South African law went through establishes that the law should not be a fixed rule, but that it needs it to be an interchangeable law that transforms according to the needs of society. The intention of this project is to define a new court typology that bridges the gap between the elitism of the past and a unified future, which allows for an appropriate response to the complexities of Urban Courts. An investigation into the spatial structure which traditional law courts have adopted will elucidate the issue of hierarchy in traditional courts and inform possible interventions for facilitating an accessible arrangement of space. How should the hierarchy of space be reorganized so that they are not reflective of a system that individuals can't relate to? Making of boundaries will be investigated in an attempt to understand how the thresholds of law courts can empower people to cross the 'imagined' line. The question which then manifests itself is: Can the built environment play a role in transcending these boundaries that constrict us as a society? Traditional Courts convey a clear and strong boundary between the public and the private, the accessible and the inaccessible. It draws a line between that which belongs to others and that which is of ourselves

Topics: Architecture
Publisher: School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:

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