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InCommon Exhibition Cabinets
Shifting the social and spatial narrative towards inclusion


The Possibilities of Collective Space

Project Type - Exhibition

Client - Boogertman + Partners Architects

Curator - Nisha van der Hoven

Collaborators - Alexandra Gascoigne, Bob van Bebber, Boogertman + Partners Architects, Dr Britt Baillie, 

Glenda Venn, Justus van der Hoven, 

Marcus van der Hoven, Sally Gaule

Completed - 2020

Location - School of Architecture and Planning,

WITS University, Johannesburg, South Africa

The Possibilities of Collective Space was a concept explored through the InCommon Exhibition  held at the Wits School of Architecture and Planning in February 2020.  The exhibition talks to a need to shift our approach to the dominant social and spatial narratives to that of inclusion, community and participation. In architecture, the notion of ‘the common’ implies space as a collective and non-exclusive resource with shared and equal benefits rather than individual or private ownership.


Designing for the collective presents both possibilities and challenges.  For the exhibition, finding common ground between design, culture and context raised six critical questions about what makes cities safe, liveable, vibrant and playful.


Where do you draw the line?

Where is the new public platform?

What is the new narrative?

How can you design play?

How does art move you?

How can we design in nature?


While the questions invite people to reflect, connect and engage in a series of installations that challenge the urban, digital, knowledge and environmental aspects of the commons, the InCommon Exhibition itself brought together practice, academia and public in a shared experiential way.  

The exhibition was designed as a testing ground for new ideas, to demonstrate work from different disciplines, people, and practices.  For each question, there are displays of artworks, everyday objects and technological devices to trigger connections, and explore the common ground between selected projects in an inclusive shared space through a mixed palette of materials and media.   

InCommon Exhibition Sketch by Hoven


By using the front of the John Moffat building we hoped to create a storefront to engage the exhibition with the broader campus to invite conversation and prompt new dialogues about architecture and collective and public space in African cities.


Colour and Re-use

The colour palette for the exhibition was determined by the reuse of powder coating colours from previous projects creating a found palette of six colours.  In order to reduce the level of waste and consumption often encountered in exhibition design, we repurposed existing materials, utilised found objects and printed on fabric to be able to reuse materials for the intended roaming exhibition.  


The range of participation on the exhibition was extensive and involved working with many other disciplines.  Takk furniture helped develop the design of the six cabinets that could be flexible enough to accommodate a variety of materials and objects and robust enough to be disassembled, flat packed and relocated.  



One of the found objects included an existing office table that was refurbished to receive a hand drawn amalgamated cityscape.  The table represents the common ground of the exhibition - the platform unifying people and projects. A layer of digital interaction invites participants to engage with an AR app to identify specific sites and projects on the table that are explained in the cabinets.  Six question cards invite visitors to respond to the questions.  Each day, responses were captured and shared as part of the exhibition and expanding catalogue. 

Cognitive Map and Video Display

A collated wall display of cognitive maps printed on fabric captures the FuturePart research teams process and engagement with respondents in the city.  The maps portray the perceptions of the case study area, demonstrating patterns and telling stories of specific journeys.  Video overlays were edited to capture the walking interviews and provide a rich visual lens into respondents’ physical and subconscious navigation of the city.

Opening Night Web.jpg
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Cognitive Maps.jpg
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