The GSA remains a new School of architecture that differentiates itself significantly from other South African schools and schools in Africa and the Diaspora in three significant ways.
Firstly, the focused and dedicated commitment to Transformation through the what is referred to as Transformative Pedagogies – a foundational concept of the GSA established by founding GSA Director, Prof Lesley Lokko. ‘Transformative Pedagogies represents a new set of pedagogies conceived of as a set of creative practices in which diversity – of medium, perspective, approach and context – is key’. The GSA sustains a space of teaching, learning and research – a safespace – one in which transformative culture can develop and flourish as our main and fundamental focus as we move to translate the teaching into Transformative Practices
Secondly, through the innovative Unit System – referred to as the Unit System Africa. The Unit System, comprising 9 Units in 2024, provides a unique experience in its move away from the traditional curricular structure that characterises typical architectural educational models with its grounding through year-long engagement in a vertical studio – shared by BArch(Hons) and MArch students – a community of practice and design research built around the specific interests motivations and concerns of the Unit Leaders and the broader transformative thinking encouraged by the school.
Thirdly the GSA is the only independent post-graduate school of architecture in Africa. This independence with its implicit focus on research-driven architectural education is a reflection of the commitment of the GSA to the innovative development of design research as a critical and emergent research orientation. Through a variety of programmes we seek to develop innovative design research strategies in consort with the evolving paradigms of professional architectural education operating within the specific context of Johannesburg, South Africa, Africa, the African Diaspora and global context.
Impact. In its relatively short life, the GSA has had a significant impact on architectural education and research locally, regionally and globally. Through the commitment to transformation, through the active and inclusive policy employed in teaching and learning practices and through the recruitment of young talented students and staff, a culture of innovation and excitement has developed around the School. Our academic programming enhanced by an ambitious and expansive academic and public programme has established the GSA as a nexus for innovative and experimental architectural thinking. Graduates of the GSA are employed by a wide range of practices in South Africa and abroad and are also pursuing successful research and creative practice careers both within architecture and in other adjacent disciplines.