Following on from our report last year, we are excited to bring you the news that creative consultant Andi Norton has officially signed on as the project manager for public art in Techno Park. Norton, who is the managing director of the Stellenbosch-based consultancy Imagine Inc., brings a wealth of experience to her role and has a number of exciting plans for art projects in the Park.
“What we have in mind is art with a purpose,” says Norton. “It’s not just about making Techno Park look pretty – it’s about focusing on things that will bring real enhancements to this environment in which people work, study, stay and play every day.”
A strong advocate of the merits of design thinking, Norton is committed to using her creative resources to come up with solutions to some of the real problems Techno Parkers face in their physical environment. The first project she is working on is geared towards improving the experience of pedestrian commuters – the many people who walk into the Park for work on a daily basis.
“If you look at the stretch of field between the R44 and the main Techno Park precincts, you can see what urban architects call ‘desire lines’ – the lines where people’s feet lead them to walk naturally, where they have trod out paths over the years,” says Norton. “However, these paths are far from ideal – they are uneven and narrow; muddy during the winter rains and dusty during the hot summer months.”
Working with ceramic artist Lee-Anne van Wyk, Norton is planning a series of strategic art constructions that will enhance the dignity and practical comfort of the pedestrian experience. These include a focal area at the beginning of the path – a so-called “hello & goodbye” space for those entering and leaving the park – as well as a communal space – complete with bench and drinking fountain – encircling the current natural crossroads in the path.
Norton is coy to share too many details about the various Techno Park art projects she is working on, mainly because for many of them the finer points are still being finalised. One project she is quite excited to talk about, however, involves the planned creation of a public transport shelter next to the R44 entrance – currently the dropping off and collection point for many of the taxis and lifts bringing commuters to the Park.
“At the moment there is no shelter for commuters who travel by public transport. Safety is a concern, especially for women who have to wait in the dark, and during the winter there isn’t anywhere to shelter from the rain and cold.” says Norton. She mentions that they have been working with internationally-renowned land artist Strijdom van der Merwe, as well as Techno Park-based architects Dekker Papendorf, elevating the project from a “bus stop” to a work of functional art. In addition, they are working to bring Isabelo Smart Benches to the space, providing pedestrian and public transport commuters with free Wi-Fi and device recharging facilities.
“We are pushing the envelope – we really are thinking beyond mere structure and focusing on the commuter’s entire experience,” says Norton, expressing her commitment to bringing a new dimension to our understanding of what public art could mean in Techno Park.
We will bring you updates about these exciting new art projects as they become available – be sure to check in regularly. In the meantime, next time you’re sitting in traffic along Techno Avenue and wondering how long it will be before the unmoving mass of cars in front of you begins to budge, think about the ways in which the pedestrian experience is being enhanced – you may just be tempted to leave your car at home and attempt an alternative commute!