Apart from the exposure to particular experts who I would never normally meet, the chance to mingle with peers over beautifully displayed excess of food is another reason I enjoy a good conference! Its the idea of “learn something” and “live a little” conveniently combined.
The recent SAGGA conference at the Elangeni in Durban was no exception. We were treated to some inspiring architectural innovators, some impressively knowledgeable technical experts and some excellent catering.
There was a lot to take in, so here are a few gems I picked out:
1. It can get very technical
The SA glass industry has become a lot more sophisticated in the last year as have the building codes, which means that specifying glazing is no mean feat. Knowing a little about everything, and knowing where to go for the right advice is key.
2. The value of collaboration and communication
It goes beyond just specifications: glazing engineers can be useful too. They can even become your favourites on the project team, as confessed by Derick Henstra of DHK.
I asked Amandus Sattler, how he handled an office of 60 people and still managed to produce such conceptually and technically thorough buildings, such as the Herz Jesu Kirche in Munich. Would it not just be easier to keep it small and hands-on, ala Glen Murcutt? Not at all, he replied. His experience of ideas is that they are always more useful when shared.
Sharing ideas and vision is not easy and the ability of an architect to communicate their concept and vision to their team is vital, as is the team’s ability to communicate back. Sattler must be a very articulate man, when he speaks German that is. He had us chucking as he mentally wrestled the English language.
Above: Herz Jesu Kirche: Conceptually thorough on so many levels. For more images click here
3. Use the recession to your advantage
Upskilling, entering competitions and playing around are useful ways to spend your time when work is slow. Amandus Sattler would not have built the Herz Jesu Kirche had he not taken the chance with a competition.
Henning Rasmuss, of Paragon Architects, also stressed the importance of having the time to be playful in projects: trying new things, putting ideas out there, and learning new computer rendering skills.
After a full day of presentations there were definitely many reasons to be optimistic about the future of glass in SA. I dare say the glass is clearly half full!
Excuse my corniness!
*SAGGA stands for South African Glass and Glazing Association