Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Hochschule Wismar, Wismar, Germany
From Wismar University
Alena Engel (Architecture)
Jana Meier (Architecture)
Mara Biebow (Communication Design and Media)
Uta Scheibe (Civil Engineering)
From Nelson Mandela University
Dumisani Qwabe (Human Settlements)
Kelsey Bruce (Human Settlement)
Lelethu Buso (Development Studies) Likhona Nqunga (Development Studies)
Sibusiso Dyantyi (Electrical Engineering)
Sinethemba Mncono (Electrical Engineering)
Prof. Janet Cherry
Prof. Sijekula Mbanga
Prof. Silke Flaßnöcker
Germany meets South Africa
The winter semester (GER) respectively summer semester (ZA) 2019/20 was a special one for the collaboration between the University of Applied Science Wismar and the project partners in Port Elizabeth (PE), South Africa. A three-year exchange programme supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Collaboration and Development was launched. The first group of Wismar students started their semester in South Africa in September 2019.
The exchange oughts to create a bond between Wismar University and Nelson Mandela University (Port Elizabeth, ZA). It also connects students with different academic, national, and cultural backgrounds. The overall goal is a cross-disciplinary exploration of new methods and approaches to development and green architecture.
The participants of the first exchange semester came from the fields of architecture, civil engineering, communication design, development studies, electrical engineering, and human settlements.
Life and Studies
The international and cross-disciplinary team participated in seminars, lectures, and workshops on various topics like basics of development studies, structures of (informal) settlements and upgrading approaches, participatory design, urban development, and action research approaches. They got to know methods of development research and experimentally conducted them in class. Field trips to different townships and participation in symposia completed the academic exchange to South Africa.
During the whole semester, the student team in South Africa was in close contact with a team of architecture students in Germany. The latter helped the local team with research, innovative ideas, construction drawings, and mental support during stressful times.
Side by side with the academic courses, the preparation for the self-built project at the end of the exchange semester started. Donated packaging material from the auto industry needed to be dismantled, sorted, and stored for the final building project. Furthermore, workshop spaces had to be prepared, procedures and workflows were practised and optimised. The students have been introduced to the handling of various (electrical) tools as well.
In preparation for the self-built project, they also visited the township where the project ought to be implemented. They met Khululekile „Khusta" Moko, the beneficial, and got to know him, his family, the neighbourhood in Walmer Township, and the local living conditions. These excursions and the visits to other Township-residents added to the theoretical background from the studies.
The highlight and final of the exchange was the self-built project in February (Joint Action Project JAP 2020) together with the team from Germany. But there were some smaller projects before that contributed directly or indirectly to the JAP. For example, the team developed and built a new pushcart for Khusta and conducted a lot of research about Walmer Township, the local ecological, economical, and social situation, and recycling in South Africa. They also took part in participatory workshops to create the layout for the project in February and outlined the future steps for follow-up projects.
Besides studying, conducting projects, and preparational tasks the student team also had time to explore the country. Self-organised long weekend trips to Cape Town, the Drakensberg, Jeffreys Bay, and St Francis Bay offered time to get to know other places and new people. The Addo Elephant National Park just an hour away from PE was a destination, just like the beautiful beaches around the city and Cape Recife for swimming, hiking, and relaxing.
Braais (the South African barbecue) and beach parties were as well part of the leisure time as a „Feierabendbier" (after-work beer) in one of the many bars and restaurants.
This exchange is a two-way exchange, which means that the South African students who participated in the project ought to come to Germany and spend a few weeks doing workshops, participating in seminars and excursions, and exploring Germany. The re-visit was planned for June 2020. Workshops have been developed, field and leisure trips planned, and everyone in Germany and South Africa was looking forward to the exchange.
Unfortunately, the Corona pandemic forced the project team to cancel the trip for the time being. The team is still in touch and still hopes that the re-visit can take place somehow in 2021. Fingers are crossed.