AfrikaBurn 2023: 24 to 30 April

CPUT ECP – An AfrikaBurn Experience

(words: Alex Noble | photos: Alex Noble / Ncebazakle Mdelwa / Corbin Raymond)

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), School of Architecture and Interior Design, runs an extended curriculum program called the ECP, for the two disciplines. ECP is a two year first year program assisting students into the university by means of a bridging year. This year, the ECP Architecture and Interior Design class went to AfrikaBurn. The experience was part of their semester work where they were to plan, build and burn a timber structure.
The students ran a two week design process where ideas where visualized and discussed. Six groups developed six concepts into scaled models and sketches. These concepts where presented to the staff and CPUT Industrial Design staff and 4th year students, our collaborating faculty who were also planning on going to the Afrikaburn. The collaboration between the two schools allowed for the older 4th year Industrial Design students to transfer skills in working with timber to the younger ECP students. A single concept was chosen by the students and staff. The idea changed as time moved on from a geodesic dome structure hugging and African pot to a performance stage and bar with a water theme.
The ECP group comprised of 36 students and tree staff members. The 4th year Industrial Design group was 17 students and staff members. The two groups were facilitated by Afrikaburn and Outreach with the cost of the tickets and some of the building materials. The group set themselves three days to build and decorate the structure.
The final design idea was the notion of ‘We Are Water’ a combination of the ECP groups African theme combined with the Industrial Design theme of the trail of their Fiscilla fish and the resource of water. In the day time on the Thursday and Friday the stage was used for small performances and bar for the gifting of flavoured water, celebrating the preciousness of the resource of water. On the Thursday evening the Gugulethu Collective and friends used the stage and bar as a shebeen in the desert gifting Umqombothi and homemade ginger beer.
On the Friday at sunset the structure was to be burnt. The students established an 8m perimeter around the structure, put the bar and wave forms on the stage and burnt the piece in one big hearty burn, the first big burn of the week.
The experience was life changing for the students. They were overwhelmed at the extreme kindness and goodwill of everyone they met at the burn. The sheer scale of the event blew their minds, the tented camps and the chance to witness the large timber sculptures opened up a new sense of appreciation to design. Each of them were virgin burners and pretty much all of them wish to return to experience it again.
A special thanks to AfrikaBurn and Outreach for facilitating this initiative. For the access by means of the community tickets, the help with costs, the 1000L water the gifted the student camp.
A special thanks to Jacqui Woolfson for supporting the project from the beginning and making it happen as well as to Monique Schiess and Loz Tanner for helping preparing the students with information and guidance prior to the event and Monique for providing an exceptional burn site for the project, Eddie & Dylan Burger of DMV for donating and transporting 200 wooden pallets, Paul Fletcher of DMV for initiating and helping getting the pallets to Tankwa, Industrial Design for providing the power tools and fixings for the structure, the staff from the three schools for all their efforts and the to all the students who built and burnt it. ‪
Check out this beautifully-shot video of the Fiscilla expedition for more.

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