Pieter-Ernst Mare from alive architecture interviewed exclusively by Safintra Roofing

24 Nov
1. How did you come up with the concept of an Art Gallery dedicated exclusively to architecture?

 My drive for alive architecture gallery came from a dream to create a space that could become a forum for architects to portray and exhibit works that never made it off the drawing table or out of the office – works that nevertheless inspired creative ideas and juices but were never recognised for what they were.

Our goal now is to become the first permanent architecture gallery creating a platform for architects, landscape architects, interior architects  and students to show their work in a public space and share their design ideas with other like-minded individuals visiting the gallery. Visitors to the gallery include: industry professionals, students, industry developers, industry media and home owners seeking professionals and new ideas in the building industry.

 In October 2011, we had more than 1000 visitors visiting the gallery over a 5-day period. This far surpassed our greatest expectations!

The industry and the public responded well to the exhibition and we have been inundated with requests from professionals and students to participate in future architectural exhibitions. We are currently working on securing a permanent space for the alive architecture gallery which will host exciting local and international architecture exhibitions in 2012.

2. What is the nature of the material displayed?

 The first exhibition showcased works from Johannesburg-based architects that have not been published. The works included plans, sections, elevations, 3-ds, vignettes, doodles, models, photography and digital projections. This has now evolved and we are working on some really exciting exhibitions for 2012.

3. How often do you have exhibitions?

We are working on securing a permanent gallery space, once we have that, we will have a new exhibition every month.

 4. How would individuals wanting to exhibit go about approaching Alive Architecture?

 We send out invitations with the theme/concept for the month to everyone we have recorded on our database.  We further encourage the people we send the invite to, to resend it to their database which in turn causes the invite to go viral. Interested parties can also follow our twitter or face book group, or they can keep an eye on the website . Interested parties are more than welcome to contact me on ideas for exhibitions. Ideally we would like the participation from all designers to help grow the gallery.

alive architecture has appointed a board of advisors that will enable the initiative to continue growing into the future. The following professionals are guiding alive architecture to become a self-sustainable entity:

Edna Peres                          (Professional Architect)

Hugh Fraser                        (Professional Architect)

Karlien Thomashoff         (Professional Architect)

Ronelle Pienaar                 (Professional Graphic Designer)

Simon Cretney                   (Professional Architect)

Thorsten Deckler             (Professional Architect)

5. Is it limited to Gauteng architects?

No, definitely not. As soon as we open the new space it will be open for all – we are currently investigating international exhibitions so it is very much open ended at this stage. We only limited the first show to JHB just so we could have a hand on what we were dealing with…

 6. How is the organization funded and how can corporates get involved in assisting with funding?

alive architecture is a non-profit entity that has relied on a handful of sponsors up to now – namely Lupini Architects, Lemon Décor, GSA and a few private individuals but unfortunately now due to the nature of the animal which we have created, it is necessary to approach industry leaders for assistance.

alive architecture will always keep its admission free to the public, professionals and students that would like to showcase their work at no cost. For this to happen we are offering corporates packages to support us: R2000.00 (Bronze), R5000.00 (Silver), R10 000.00 (Gold) or more (Platinum). Our drive is to raise at least R10,000 per month which would enable us to pay rent, our electricity and water usage and offer materials to architects and designers that cannot afford the cost to display their works for the general public and their peers to review.  We are also welcoming corporates to sponsor materials like paint etc.

 Sponsor benefits would include the following based on the sponsorship package “bought”:

– a permanent A2 Perspex sponsorship-logo and graphic made which would then be on prominent display within the exhibition space

–  sponsorship-logo on all posters and advertising of new exhibitions

–  sponsorship-logo as part of our email signature and other communication documentation

–  company name mentioned and thanked at all formal openings

–  sponsors may install own branding material at opening of exhibitions at the discretion of the curator

–  sponsorship-logo and links on the alive architecture website

–  @mentions on social media (twitter and facebook)

–  sponsorship-logo and mentions on the monthly alive newsletter

–  alive architecture will gladly host any competitions that the sponsor would like to exhibit

–  company brochures and cards would be freely available in gallery

7. It’s no secret that you are a fellow “blogger”….please tell me how you got into that and who you blog  for?

 Haha…never thought of myself as a real blogger-blogger….but ja I do blog. Not as much as I should though. I only really dipped my toes into the blogging world recently when I was offered a space for the VISI magazine. I try to keep it to architecture, but sometimes wander away from my objective…

8. I’ve found in my “internet research travels” that sadly the majority of South African Architects             haven’t caught on to the magic of using the web as a marketing platform and their exposure is  limited to websites only. Why do you think that is and do you see it changing?

For alive architecture gallery I created a twitter account with the idea of building up a twitter network with local architects but its seems that not a lot of architects are really actively tweeting. I had requests from viewers at the gallery to get architects alive on twitter so that they can follow them, ask them questions etc., but there are very few studios online as well. I think companies still rely on advertising through hard media by mentions in articles etc.. The reality is that potential clients do not just call a telephone number they see at the bottom of an article in a glossy magazine – most of them log onto the company’s website and send mail

9. We recently had the SA Blog Awards where Architecture and Design themed blogs didn’t feature much at all. Can I have your opinion on that?

The industry is in an apathetic stage at the moment which I think is partly due to the current economic situation – guys just don’t have the time or the energy to devote to a blog site – and also due to the fact that architects and designers are just too caught up in their own worlds to see that blogging is actually quite cool and a hell of a way to get your ideas and concepts “out there”!

Des Strydom for Safintra Roofing deseres@safintra.co.za

Also see: http://alive.withtank.com/

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