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Culture Consumption Shift to Mitigate the Climate Emergency


  • Tlhologello Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
  • Luthando Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
  • Francine van Tonder Tshwane University of Technology



Architecture, climate emergency, culture, economy, indigenous


The built form of the South African post-apartheid city continues to perpetuate the paradigm that only one culture is available for consumption. Culture is consumed by South Africans who form part of a nation diverse in culture, and by an international tourist market, seeking the provision of diverse cultural experiences. Yet, most African cultural artifacts are found encased in colonial architecture museums, where the narrative is restricted to the observed, and where the cultures are entombed and thereby unable to reach out and affect the city around it. This places these cultures as either historical records and artifacts, or something foreign to the city, belonging to the fringes of the post-apartheid city, and not as an existing way of living that is held by city dwellers that lacks places that allow them to bear fruit and serve. In this paper, the authors argue that there is an opportunity to provide built form interventions that will accommodate the many cultures alive and active within South Africa. These cultures may be represented in built form, as a facilitator for first-hand experience, and may then further establish a market for cultural consumption and contemporary tourism that is more authentic. To do so, secondary data is presented on the current social and economic melee of how culture is consumed as a value-add good product in the post-apartheid city. Furthermore, two cultural architectural interventions are presented as case studies. A conceptual framework is constructed, showcasing the lessons learned, as well as expanding the conversation around culture, consumption, and climate – as well as how responsible tourism may support positive responses to each. By introducing the climate emergency, architecture’s complicity in driving consumption is further exposed. An argument is presented whereby existing architectural interventions in the post-apartheid city are shown to fall short in their attempts to transform the city away from the colonial capitalist linear economy consumption practices that degrade the environment. The paper concludes with a vision for future architectural interventions that better succeed in providing space and place for diverse cultural inclusion, thoughtful consumption patterns and climate change mitigation. There is a market for the consumption of culture as an experience. An indigenous circular economy of locally produced, and locally consumed culture is an alternative to current human consumption patterns that damage the environment.

Author Biographies

Tlhologello, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

Tlhologello Sesana is a co founder of Sesana Sesana Studio a start-up which specializes in architectural incantations. She holds an MArch Architecture from Tshwane University of Technology, Department of Architecture and Industrial Design, where she now is a Lecturer.

Luthando, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

Luthando Thomas holds a MArch Architecture from Tshwane University of Technology. He is a Candidate Architect and works as a professional fiction writer, storyteller, and researcher. Luthando has a socialist disposition, and regards himself as non binary. He puts above all else a dedication to progressing Africa and it's people.