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For Us

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For Us, (1963) the title taken from the writings of Aldo van Eyck, had contributions from Peter SMITHSON and Pancho GUEDES, was a production by a group of Wits architectural students under the leadership of Ivor PRINSLOO intended to challenge their teachers, demanding "Where are you taking us, what has happened to the dynamics and integrity of the thirties? What has happened to the social content of our architecture?" The group did not merely criticise. They produced work, a manifesto (see below), an exhibition of scaffolding holding on its clips not only the manifesto, but also images of the South African Modern Movement, of the forgotten and ignored PABST (whom the group traced not long before he died), a host of fascinating and powerful images collected from the mining properties of the Witwatersrand and of their own work, all reproduced in this magazine. For Us was a challenge, not merely to the pedagogy of the School, but to the whole architectural establishment, important enough to attract the attention and debate of the major remaining players of the Modern Movement in Johannesburg - Norman HANSON, Gordon McINTOSH and Bernard COOKE as well as John FASSLER, director of the School and his deputy, Duncan HOWIE. It had a dramatic effect on Wits and shifted it out of a roughly New Empiricist orientation to one related closely to the writings and work of Team Ten.

Manifesto
Students of architecture, Witwatersrand. September, 1962.

We decline to accept architecture as the complacent perpetuation of standards and concepts that are no longer valid. Shining: ultimate certainties, tidy circumscribed schools of thought, smug bodies of self-contained beliefs, exclusive systems of personal dissolution, hot-housed academic precepts, we reject as the meaningless paraphernalia of an approach to design that has become trite, automatic, inauthentic and deprived of the dignity that comes from realising the urgency of circumstance and occasion. By not taking into account man's fundamental requirements, demands and expectations, contemporary architecture betrays its roots, and forces us to come to terms with the implications of its original message. This exhibition is an expression of our search for a way in which we can, with conviction, face a situation deprived of a centre and a living purpose. In the buildings presented in this exhibition we find the evidence of a way of building that has not lost contact with the basic facts and mysteries of daily life. From them we gain the courage to consciously reflect this reality, and to confront man who lives from day to day with a truer picture of his present condition. For this we must be capable, above all, of a lucidity unafraid of controlling what the imagination might discover. Adequacy of means, relevance of purpose, pertinacity of decision, are the implements with which we propose to shatter the senseless vocabulary that has grown among us — in order to study grammar anew.

Essays:

Student Exhibition 19622
Western Native Township
by E. W. N. Mallows
8
A tale of two Cities and the story of a Community
by Julian Beinart
15
Beyond Visibility
by Aldo van Eyck
20
Four Sites and the whosing of Sakes
by A. d' Alpoim Guedes
24
The Hen on her Egg
by W. B. Pabst
28
Towards a 20th Century Architecture
by Ivor Prinsloo
32