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SANS SOUCI

In the absence of a budget and local capacity to re-build the famous Sans Souci Cinema in Soweto, Johannesburg, the content rather than the container was realised.


The cinema began in 1948, was destroyed in a fire in 1994 and subsequently pillaged for building materials resulting in an evocative ruin used as an informal public space by the local youth. Our brief from the Kliptown Our Town Trust was to re-imagine the Sans Souci as a cultural public space.

Through a series of workshops and events the remains of the cinema were animated as a space of cultural event and meaning over a period of several years. A film festival, dance outreach project and several performances were held during this time. These events employed the ruin as an urban armature and were curated together with the community.

Through our practice as architects in a need-based context in which resources are scarce we have had to discover, for ourselves, the value in the directness and immediacy of informality. By harnessing informal processes we are finding new ways in which to make positive and interactive public spaces. Rather than abandoning our clients in the light of limited budgets we have pooled human resources through combined networks in order to realise our mandate of creating a public space for cultural programme.

Carried out in collaboration with Lindsay Bremner

26’10 project team: Anne Graupner, Thorsten Deckler, Gavin Armstrong, Kiran Paras, Nicola Wessels, Rogan Rich, Robert Rich, Sue Groenewald

Bauwelt Prize 2010
Featured in Contemporary Architecture South Africa, Ines Tolic, Motta Architectura, 24 ORE Cultura srl, Milan, 2010
Featured in Domus March 2008
Featured in Daimler Chrysler Award Catalogue and traveling exhibition 2007
Featured in Architecture South Africa May/ June 2006
Featured in Architecture South Africa March/ April 2006
Winner of a South African Institute of Architecture Project Award 2006

Photographed by Louis Vorster