Urban-Think Tank & Theatre4Change
Text by Janielle Williams
Photos by Russell Smith Photography, Jansen & Neels Kleynhans (NK Photo)
Alfredo Brillembourg and Rebecca Looringh-van Beeck of Urban-Think Tank took a break from last-minute preparations for the play Holy Contract to talk about the interdisciplinary design practice’s recent collaboration with Theatre4Change.
Since 1998, Urban-Think Tank (U-TT) has conducted research and pursued concrete design projects addressing a wide range of subjects wherever they are concerned with contemporary architecture and urbanism, in sites spanning from Venezuela to Brazil, Bosnia & Herzegovina and India.
Founded by Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner in Caracas, Venezuela, one of U-TT’s most notable initial projects was a cable car system that facilitated travel between the barrio San Agustín and central Caracas. Before then, the city’s mountains and highways formed a physical border between the informal settlement and the wealthier city centre, where there was greater access to employment, day-care, supermarkets, libraries, hospitals and other essential services.
Since then, U-TT has sought to recognise and resolve a universal phenomenon: the divisive power that economic imbalance has in shaping societies and infrastructures. For the last three years, the practice has been working in the Khayelitsha township of Cape Town, South Africa, on the ‘Empower Shack’ housing project. Engaging deeply with the local community, part of the team has more recently been collaborating with non-profit group Theatre4Change to bring us an experimental theatre production inspired by the late American singer Gil-Scott Heron.
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