Institutional Transformation – South African Institute of Architecture calls for “many” voices

“The problems of class, race, education and gender are not outside in the world in which architects intervene but they are also internal to our professional and learning institutions.” Tariq Toffa. As Tariq further argues, “the numbers that show the lack of transformation in our profession are not just numbers – we need to look how the lack of representation of different voices impacts on architecture as a discipline, a profession, a practice.”

We consider the transformation of built environment institutions as being key towards the transformation of thinking, teaching and practice – and ultimately the transformation of space. It is in this light that we welcome and celebrate the inauguration of Sikhumbuzo Mtembu as the first African president of the 120-year-old professional institution, the Kwazulu-Natal Institute of Architects (SAIA KZN). The longest serving, vice-president, Mtembu is also one of the youngest presidents to hold this office. Congratulations Sikhumbuzo on this new role, we honour your commitment to bringing growth and change to the architectural profession.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Prof Amira Osman on her inauguration as the Vice President of the South African Institute of Architecture (SAIA). This year, Prof Osman facilitated one of the first of a series of Transformation Webinars hosted by SAIA. The aim of this series is to “…create a platform to initiate discussions around the transformation of our profession… and to start conversations on a difficult, but necessary, and long-neglected topic … Our hope is that this series can kick-start and inspire SAIA to travel a transformative journey”.  Amira hailed this initiative as a “bold and positive move that may help in making the profession more representative, inclusive and thus better align the South African architectural profession with the broader socio-economic conditions of our country”. Read Amira and Tariq Toffa’s Reflections on the SAIA Transformation Webinars 2021.

Photo: Patrick Smith, the outgoing president handing over the 120-year-old Chain of Office to the newly elected president Sikhumbuzo Mtembu, picture taken by ODMedia: Geoff Redman

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