Point of View

Heather Dodd is a partner at Savage + Dodd Architects based in Johannesburg. Savage + Dodd Architects believe in the power of design in restorative spatial justice and urban resilience. This is reflected in the scope of projects undertaken in the Practice which includes social housing and large scale adaptive re-use of existing buildings.

VE day 1945 : Commemoration in the time of Corona. 8 May 2020

On the 75th Anniversary of VE Day which will be commemorated on Friday 8th May, we will not be able to be together. Instead, we are in the midst of a global pandemic that forces us to observe physical distancing or lockdowns.

It will be a long time before we can imagine having a street party.

Those who lived through the Second World War undoubtedly remember where they were when they heard Neville Chamberlain’s announcement of the declaration of war against Germany. I wonder if we will remember sitting on our couches, listening to our President announcing that a National State of Disaster had been declared and that the country would be entering a 21 day lockdown period.

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The VE Day Party at the Holmesdale School Reigate. The author’s Mother, Uncle and their friends, Betty and Basil are in the photograph. In conversation with the author, Betty shared her insights on what it felt like then and compares it to what it feels like now during the Corona pandemic.

Multi-Functional Buildings as the engines of a resilient city  22 April 2020 

In 2019 I was privileged to be a Judge in the ‘Production Energy & Recycling’ Category at World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Amsterdam. It was a particularly interesting category containing a range of building typologies from wineries to power stations. Especially interesting were buildings that engaged in overlapping and multiple functionalities both in terms of processes working towards environmental circularity but also in terms of positioning the building in relation to the potential circularity of city processes. What can buildings offer the city and what does the city offer the building? An example amongst the finalists was the Helsinki Datacenter by Parviainen Architects located in the centre of Helsinki, Finland.

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Telia Helsinski Data Centre, Parviainen Architects, 2019 WAF Finalist in the ‘Production, Energy and Recycling’ category. Image Mika Huisman / Decopic

COVID-19: Distancing and Social Learning ? 18 April 2020 

With COVID-19 we have quickly been thrust into a new world in which we have previously only partially been engaging with. As schools have been closed, online or remote learning has now become the norm in varying modes for school children globally, at least those of those lucky enough to have access to electricity, a computer or smart device and a stable data connection and of course a quiet space to study in. (Data is a human right ?)

With this comes a series of very interesting questions and observations around the concepts of the nature of space and our homes, around teaching and learning and the role of social learning.

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             Concept sketch for student lounge. Sol Plaatje University. Kimberley

COVID-19 and the concept of “Urban Triage” 9 April 2020 

The concept of ‘Triage’ in medical terms refers to “the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties.”

Could we apply this term to thinking in urban terms to repurpose elements of the city strategically to fight the COVID 19 Virus ? At this point social or more explicitly physical distancing in large dense urban areas is forcing us into ‘lockdown’ scenarios, which must be supported by support logistics that keep our frontline supplies and essential services running.

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Johannesburg Municipal cleaning teams use the opportunity of the COVID19 lockdown to clean the MTN Taxi Rank, one of the busiest and most often littered and dirty taxi ranks in the city.