Langa Theatre Rebuild

Cape Town (South Africa) 2021

University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa

Peter Behrens School of Arts, HS Duesseldorf (PBSA), Germany

In 2016, the Langa Theatre building was completed as an extension to the existing Guga S’Thebe Cultural Centre. The project was originally designed and built by students and staff from the Peter Behrens School of Arts, HS Düsseldorf (PBSA); RWTH Aachen University; Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta; and the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa.

In September 2020, part of the theatre was damaged by a fire that left the ceilings of the main theatre space and the sound studio completely destroyed. In 2021, under the direction of Clint Abrahams, UCT students were tasked with designing and prototyping ideas for a new acoustic ceiling and light diffusers to improve upon the previous design. Social distancing measures led to weekly online meetings where students presented their ideas to PBSA and UCT staff, as well as local experts, to solicit feedback. Shortlisted design work was then prototyped at a 1:1 scale.

The design by Kaylyn Carelse, Jason Ford, Tehsil Jogie, and Eryn Le Fleur’s group was selected from 10 group projects. The group’s ceiling design comprised 144 unique triangles painted and upholstered in traditional shweshwe fabric, arranged in a pattern resembling an abstract township scene. The design by David Dlamini, Anna Hauff, Shanay Meintjes, Karin Reeves, and Sibongakonke Shezi was selected and developed into a light diffuser. The group proposed a metal wire triangulated frame wrapped in fabric to soften the sharp LED theatre lighting.

The ceiling framework was crafted by young people from the nearby Macassar community and the metal frames for the light diffusers were made by a local welder. On-site workshops were conducted where newly enrolled second-year technology students upholstered and painted the ceiling panels, while Langa crafters created fabric coverings for the light diffuser framework. A local builder was tasked with installing the ceiling panels and light diffusers in time for the 2023 Langa Centenary celebrations.

Client: City of Cape Town and the Langa Arts and Culture community. 

Collaborators: imagine structure GmbH, CS Studio Architects, Our Workshop Stakeholders
Community contractors: Danny Kleinsmith, September Wilson, Studiolight
Sponsorship and support: Sto Foundation

Lead Tutor: Clint Abrahams (UCT)
Tutors: Jane Boardman Smith, Micheal Du Toit, Christos Simos, John Coetzee, Shafiek Matthews, Alma Ruiz, (UCT). Judith Reitz, Thomas Georg Schaplik, (PBSA)

Students: University of Cape Town BAS Technology Year 2 students 

Research question:  How can we envision the rebuilding of local spaces through innovative acoustic and lighting design tailored for theatre venues?


+, 11-50, Architectural Technology, Cape Town Univ., Commissioned, Curricular, Months, Permanent, South Africa, Sponsorship, Students with tutor, Undergraduate, University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf