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The government plans to track down unauthorised Internet-users

first_img May 6, 2020 Find out more Organisation CubaAmericas Help by sharing this information Reporters Without Borders has protested vigorously against a plan by the Cuban authorities to crack down on unauthorised Internet-users by placing a total ban on use of the regular telephone network to get online. They have called on Etecsa, Cuba’s sole telecoms operator “to deploy every technical means to detect and block Internet access” to unauthorised users. Since Internet use in Cuba is banned for the majority of the population, Cubans are forced to use illegal connections. October 12, 2018 Find out more News Reporters Without Borders has protested vigorously against a plan by the Cuban authorities to crack down on unauthorised Internet-users by placing a total ban on use of the regular telephone network to get online. They have called on Etecsa, Cuba’s sole telecoms operator “to deploy every technical means to detect and block Internet access” to unauthorised users. Since Internet use in Cuba is banned for the majority of the population, Cubans are forced to use illegal connections.”We are extremely worried by this new decree which is aimed at tracking down ‘informaticos’, Cubans who managed to get Internet access despite an official ban,” said Robert Ménard, secretary general of the international press freedom organisation. “The Internet is one of the few means of getting around the ever present censorship of news and information in this country,”he said.”Since they are unable to monitor the Internet as easily as the newspapers, the government has simply chosen to ban access to the Internet for almost the entire population. Very few countries go as far as this to control the Net,” he added.From 24 January, it will officially forbidden to use the regular telephone network, billed in pesos, to connect to the Internet, except for those specifically allowed to do so by “the person in charge of a body or of a central administration organisation”. The change will not affect foreign companies and organisations that use another network, billed in dollars, for Net access.The decree in fact changes nothing for most ordinary Cubans in that a ban on Internet access is already in place for most of them. The chief objective is to remind them that only people with specific permission can use this media. Many “informaticos” used personal computers, bought on the black market, to connect to the Internet, by pirating normal telephone lines. Under the new law the authorities will track these people down with the help of the sole public provider Etecsa.Cubans can still use cybercafés to get online, but at two euros for quarter of an hour, it is beyond the financial means of almost everyone. RSF_en News RSF and Fundamedios welcome US asylum ruling in favor of Cuban journalist Serafin Moran Santiago to go further News New press freedom predators elected to UN Human Rights Council October 15, 2020 Find out more CubaAmericas Cuba and its Decree Law 370: annihilating freedom of expression on the Internet January 14, 2004 – Updated on January 20, 2016 The government plans to track down unauthorised Internet-users Follow the news on Cuba Receive email alerts Newslast_img read more

Stakes are rising as Jon Paul Pérez takes the reins at Miami’s Related

first_imgShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Jon Paul PérezIt took about three months for Jon Paul Pérez to persuade his father to invest in the luxury apartment tower Wynwood 25 back in 2017.The eldest son of Related Group founder and Miami “condo king” Jorge Pérez said last year that he negotiated the partnership with developer East End Capital “from soup to nuts.”East End was looking for a strong partner with construction expertise, and it found that in Related.Wynwood 25’s nearly 290 rental units and retail space were completed last year, marking the first major apartment project to be completed since the trendy neighborhood was rezoned about five years ago. Jon Paul, who recently turned 36, has led Related’s charge in Wynwood, as well as its push into newer technology and amenities. Last month, he became the company’s president, formalizing a succession plan that has been in the works for more than a decade. Jorge, the firm’s 71-year-old billionaire chair and CEO, has been stepping back over the years to focus more on his art collection and philanthropy. Now, Jon Paul — who will remain surrounded by a group of longtime advisers — must step up to the plate during the pandemic, which has devastated local hotel, retail and restaurant owners while pointing up a greater need for affordable housing.In short videos to his firm’s employees that began in March, he has reassured them that they will get through the months ahead, even reminding them to avoid using the office microwave and encouraging them to bring hot food in a thermos.And as long as he can prove that Related is safe in his hands, Jon Paul stands to inherit one of South Florida’s largest and most influential development firms, one that Related Companies founder Stephen Ross has had a stake in since the start.The development firm, which is rumored to have built one in four Miami condos, now has about 12,000 rental and condo units planned for next year. That includes at least half a dozen projects in a neighborhood that has seen property values explode in recent years.Wynwood 25On the condo front, Related is often the first to launch sales, the first to offer incentives when the market is saturated and the first to cancel a project when sales are lackluster. The company was also hit hard during the last recession, after many buyers walked away from their deposits.Jorge has spoken about the importance of making “very cold” decisions about specific projects, and Jon Paul takes a similar approach, relying heavily on his financial background.But while Jon Paul is expected to eventually take over entirely, it’s clear that his father still calls the shots for now, as he continues to run some company meetings. At the same time, all major investments must be approved by the Pérez family.Matt Allen, Related’s executive vice president and COO, said late last year that the day Jorge is not at the company “is the day we put him in his grave.”Like father, like son?Jon Paul, also known as J.P., could be described as quieter than his dad, an outspoken art collector who has not shied away from rebuking President Donald Trump and his policies.Jorge’s eldest son is just as exacting of people, though less aggressive than his father, according to those who know him well.“He’s quiet and pensive, and when he speaks he has something intelligent to say,” said developer Gil Dezer, who partnered with Jon Paul on the high-end Residences by Armani Casa in Sunny Isles Beach. “He doesn’t go out and give opinions to people he doesn’t necessarily know, which is smart.”Dezer also said that Related runs like a “great machine” and would be successful regardless, adding that Jon Paul will lead the company “very well.”Related — which Jorge founded in 1979 with Ross — has been active in developing luxury condos, affordable and market-rate housing, mixed-use projects and office buildings. The firm has also expanded throughout Florida, doubling down on Tampa, as well as the Southwestern U.S., and has projects in Latin America, where Jorge was born.And Related isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Construction has continued on its existing projects, and this fall Related launched sales at Solemar, a luxury condo tower planned for Pompano Beach. This month, the company also closed with Dezer Development on a site in Hillsboro Beach where the two firms plan to build luxury condos.Succession is likely one of the most important decisions a founder makes, said Ezra Katz, founder and CEO of Aztec Group, an investment and merchant banking firm based in Miami’s Coconut Grove. The earlier a plan is set into motion, the better, and to “think you’re invincible and immortal is not an option,” he noted.“It’s a touchy subject. It’s not a good idea to demand it. It has to be a natural process,” Katz said. “I can cite many situations where the children of the family members didn’t want to be part of the family business.” Though Jon Paul differs from his father in some ways, he isn’t less direct, decisive or demanding than Jorge, said Related Vice Chair Adolfo Henriques. He’s been described as a “firecracker,” and he and his father are both Type-A personalities, said Henriques, adding that Jon Paul is open to other opinions but has his own and is far from soft-spoken.Both Jon Paul and his father declined to be interviewed for this story, due to timing.Jon Paul’s work life and home life started on the same page. He and his younger brother Nicholas, now a vice president at Related, would often visit sales centers and properties on weekends with their dad.“Both Jon Paul and Nick have been intimately involved in [the business] their entire lives,” Henriques said. “It’s just kind of intrinsic. It’s built into how they think.”Jon Paul got his start in 2008, working for Related Companies President Bruce Beal just before the financial crisis hit. After graduating from the University of Miami, he left his hometown to work for Related Companies in Manhattan. Getting outside experience was a requirement if he were to come back and work for Related Group. “I was Jorge’s son but I was not treated like that in New York,” Jon Paul told The Real Deal in a 2014 interview. “That was the best thing for me.” As Jon Paul takes more control over the company, especially during a pandemic, the people he surrounds himself with will be crucial to his success, according to observers on the outside.“It’s going to be critical for Jon Paul not to let the real estate industry blow smoke up his ass because if he buys into that, it will be a disaster,” said condo market consultant Peter Zalewski, who has consulted for Jon Paul. “He needs the Matt Allens of the world and others who are going to give him straight talk and not fall for the real estate hyperbole and bullshit the industry is renowned for in Miami,” Zalewski added. (Allen has worked for the firm since 1999.)His generationJon Paul is part of a younger breed of real estate developers, many of whom he’s partnered with in recent years. That group includes the junior Dezer, Terra Group’s David Martin and Brett Mufson of Fontainebleau Development.Many of them, like Jon Paul, cut their teeth during the last recession.“Jon Paul has been able to take real estate friendships and convert them into successful joint venture partnerships,” said Scott Wadler, managing director in the Miami office of Berkadia, a capital markets advisory firm co-owned by Berkshire Hathaway and Jefferies Financial Group.Wadler, a friend of Jon Paul’s, is listing Related and Block Capital’s Domio Wynwood, an apartment-hotel hybrid that hit the market a few months ago. Inside Related, Jon Paul is busy looking for the hustlers who have the drive to succeed and wear multiple hats.“He’s very focused on finding the stars who are going to bring in business and development opportunities,” Wadler noted.Though he isn’t politically outspoken like his father, a longtime Democrat, Jon Paul is finding his own place in South Florida. He’s a member of the Wynwood Business Improvement District board and sits on the Urban Land Institute’s Southeast Florida/Caribbean advisory board.Albert Garcia, the BID’s chair, said Jon Paul’s approach to developing in the neighborhood — which included a massive mural on the northeast side of Wynwood 25 by artist El Mac — alleviated “a lot of the anxiety” that surrounded Related’s expansion plans in the neighborhood.Armani Casa in Sunny Isles Beach“I think he understands the role that individual projects play,” Garcia said. “This is not going to become Brickell, this is not going to become Miami Beach.”The new guardThe pandemic disrupted many things, but not Jorge Pérez’s succession plan.“Jorge had a timespan during which he just wanted Jon Paul to experience things a little differently,” said Henriques, who advises on Related’s executive team, which Jon Paul has been a part of for years.Jon Paul worked under former condo development president Carlos Rosso, who recently left the company after working for Jorge for 18 years, and briefly for Jon Paul. For Rosso, it was time to move on, though he will continue to work with the company on specific projects.Henriques said that Jon Paul got his start at Related Group working under the division heads as one of their employees. “Transitioning from being an employee to being the boss requires changes in behavior, changes in relationships. The pandemic helped to cement some of those changes,” he said.It’s important to give the next leader in a family firm the chance to make mistakes, own up to them and learn from them, said Katz of Aztec Group. How he or she relates to administrative staff and other company executives is also key.“A lot of people simply don’t know how to stand up and say, ‘It’s on me,’” Katz noted. “To lead a company is a totally different ballgame. Some do it well and some don’t.” TagsRelatedcenter_img Share via Shortlinklast_img read more

University salutatorian reflects on time at Notre Dame

first_imgWhen she was first accepted to Notre Dame, class of 2018 salutatorian Harisa Spahić wasn’t sure she wanted to come to the University. During the spring of her senior year of high school, the self-described “townie”, who was born in Germany to a Bosnian family and lived in Idaho before her family relocated to northern Indiana, was harboring some doubts about Notre Dame — namely its proximity to her home.“I didn’t want to go to a school that was very close to my home,” Spahić said. “I’m also not Catholic nor religious so I was hesitant about that just because I went to public school. I didn’t know what it was going to be like. So, it was just the unknown. And then also I’m not the biggest fan of football.”Still, Spahić eventually decided to come to Notre Dame. Four years later, she will graduate with a 4.0 cumulative GPA, having completed a major in biochemistry and minors in anthropology and science, technology and values. She will also graduate as an early inductee into Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, a Marshall Scholar finalist, a four year member of the Dean’s List and a recipient of the 2018 Daniel and Anne Crossen Pre-Medical Student Award.Spahić said her decision to come was largely due to her participation in the QuestBridge program, a scholarship program for low-income students, coupled with a visit to campus.“I came on that spring visit weekend in the spring, and I think it was being able to actually experience academic, social and spiritual life on campus that really kind of took away a lot of that mystery and unknown,” she said. “I found out that Notre Dame is a fantastic place, and I do want to go there and I do fit in.”Spahić said her decision to pursue a degree in biochemistry was a result of her interest in both biology and chemistry, and she chose her two minors because they helped expand her perspective on the sciences.“I like biochemistry because … it gets the right level of what I like. So, it worked out for me,” she said. “Anthropology I picked because it was interesting. I took one anthropology class in my freshman year and I really liked it, so I just picked up the minor because it was easy and those have also been some of my favorite classes. It really kind of directed my interest in medicine.“And the science, technology and values was primarily because of the interesting classes they offer and the perspective on science it offers … I think a lot of scientists sometimes get too dead set in their ways, and science is absolute, but when you actually start looking at science and the history of it and everything it’s not as absolute.”Beyond the classroom, Spahić has been involved in two research labs — the Cancer Neurocognitive Translational Research Lab (CNTRL) and the Clark research lab. In addition to a job in the admissions office, she has also volunteered with a range of organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, the Center for Hospice Care, Social Justice in American Medicine Club and the Notre Dame chapter of Timmy Global Health.Through her various activities, Spahić has traveled throughout the world. She went to Copenhagen to present research from the CNTRL and traveled to Ecuador to volunteer in a health clinic with Timmy Global Health. In addition, she participated in academic study abroad programs in Ireland and Greece.Spahić said her engagement was sparked by a desire to interact with the world beyond Notre Dame.“Notre Dame can be a bit of a bubble sometimes,” she said. “I think leaving the bubble was very important, especially because academics and things like that are so ingrained, but with community service and other outreach opportunities, getting to know other people that don’t necessarily go to Notre Dame, so exposing myself to people with different ways of thinking, backgrounds, was really important and what I wanted to do,”Spahić said the key to balancing her many activities with her academics was prioritization. She also used yoga to help her de-stress during busy periods and said balance was important to healthy life.“The thing I’ve taken most away from Notre Dame is having a balance of things,” she said. “And I think that comes into like academics, spiritually and socially, but then also family. So, having a great life doesn’t mean just being the best student you could possibly be, the best athlete you could possibly be, being the best anything you could possibly be — it’s just being the best person you could possibly be.”In the fall, Spahić will enroll at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. She is interested in studying women’s health, and currently plans to become an OBGYN.In offering advice for the community she is preparing to leave, she said students should have some direction but be willing to change their plans.“Something I like to tell prospective students is draw your plan in pencil. Just so you have a plan, like it’s always good to have direction in life,” she said. “But always be open to new opportunities. So that’s the pencil part, be willing to erase thing and make a new plan. I think that was very important in my experience during Notre Dame.”I didn’t expect to study abroad in all of the places I did, I didn’t expect to do all the research I did, I didn’t expect to join all the clubs I did. But it was just as the opportunities arose and my interests were piqued, I chose to do those. Definitely having flexibility with that regard would be my biggest piece of advice.”Tags: 2018 Commencement, class of 2018, Commencement 2018, Commencement Issue 2018, health, medical school, Medicine, salutatorian, sciencelast_img read more

Under-18s: Defeats for Chelsea and QPR, Fulham draw

first_imgChelsea’s Under-18s lost 5-4 at Norwich on Saturday after being 3-1 up at half-time.Martell Taylor-Crossdale scored twice for the visitors and Charlie Brown also found the net, but it was not enough for the young Blues.England Under-19 striker Taylor-Crossdale put them ahead after being set up by Conor Gallagher.After Norwich equalised, an own goal restored Chelsea’s lead and Taylor-Crossdale doubled their advantage after being found by Reece James’ cross.But the Canaries hit back in the second half, scoring four times before Brown pulled a goal back late on.Meanwhile, QPR’s Under-18s were thrashed 6-0 by Leeds United and Fulham’s drew 2-2 at Swansea City.See also:Clarke-Salter plays as Blues youngsters beat SpursChelsea Under-23s v Tottenham: three stand-out performersFollow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Planetary Youth Continues After Cassini

first_img(Visited 384 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 The data gathering phase is over, but the data mining phase will continue for years. This entry also shares some news about other solar system objects showing youthfulness.Cassini lived long past its expiration date, gathering unprecedented data at Saturn for 13 years, and some Jupiter science en route. Spacecraft die, but data can live indefinitely. We can expect more surprises from the Saturn system as researchers mine the 635 gb of science data. Already, some 4,000 papers have been published. Here are some recent tidbits:Iapetus from Cassini (JPL PIA06166, 12/31/04)Formation of the bulge of Iapetus through long-wavelength folding of the lithosphere (Icarus). The closeups of an equatorial mountain range 12 miles high circling Iapetus continue to baffle physicists. Was it a collapsed ring? Did the moon rotate real fast long ago? Kay and Dombard have a new theory in this paper: a tectonic process rather than a rotational process. “A lithosphere with latitudinally variable thickness folds during an epoch of global contraction,” they propose. Their model requires a 30-degree temperature difference between the poles and the equator driven by decay of short-lived radioisotopes. Any unique structure, though, prompts philosophical questions about why it happened here and nowhere else.Close-up of equatorial ridge from Cassini (JPL, PIA08372, 9/10/07)Testing models for the formation of the equatorial ridge on Iapetus via crater counting (Icarus). In this paper, Dombard and two other colleagues try to establish a date for the formation of the equatorial ridge on Iapetus. After measuring 7,748 craters, they decided the ridge is young! This will ‘impact’ theories of formation of the mountain range. Guess which theory seems favored now? Spike Psarris would chuckle: another lucky impact brought in to rescue billions of years.Comparison of the crater size-frequency distributions show that the crater distribution on the ridge appears to be depleted in craters larger than 16 km with an abruptly enhanced crater population less than 16 km in diameter up to saturation. One possible interpretation is that the ridge is a relatively younger surface with an enhanced small impactor population. Finally, the compiled results are used to examine each ridge formation hypothesis. Based on these results, a model of ridge formation via a tidally disrupted sub-satellite appears most consistent with our interpretation of a younger ridge with an enhanced small impactor population.Electrical and chemical coupling between Saturn and its rings (Swedish Institute of Space Physics). Electric rings? That’s cool. Using data from the Langmuir probe (part of the Radio and Plasma Wave Spectrometer instrument), Swedish scientists called the first results “surprising.” They have found that “there is a strong coupling, both chemically and electrically, between the atmosphere of Saturn and its rings.” Jan-Erik Wahlund said, “It is as though the small ice particles in the D-ring suck up electrons from the ionosphere.” Could that interaction continue for billions of years?Enceladus’s crust as a non-uniform thin shell: I. tidal deformations (Icarus). Mikael Beyeuthe is starting a series of papers trying to explain the geyser activity on Enceladus. “The geologic activity at Enceladus’s south pole remains unexplained, though tidal deformations are probably the ultimate cause,” he begins. What other force is there? He constructs a model of thin crustal shells to try to keep the geysers going. “The combination of crustal thinning and convection below the poles can amplify south polar stresses by a factor of 10, but it cannot explain the apparent time lag between the maximum plume brightness and the opening of tiger stripes.” Next he plans to explore the effect of non-uniform crust on tidal dissipation. He will probably find some way to keep the heat on, because as every planetary scientists knows in advance, this moon has to be 4.5 billion years old.Other Planetary NewsBright Areas on Ceres Suggest Geologic Activity (JPL News). For those who expected this old asteroid to be cold and dead, “Ceres is surprisingly active.” In fact, Carol Raymond, deputy principal investigator of the Dawn mission, thinks it could still be active. “Geological processes created these bright areas and may still be changing the face of Ceres today,” she says. When cryovolcanoes can’t suffice, impacts can come in to rescue theories.Global radar map of Venus (JPL)Lava-filled blocks on Venus may indicate geological activity (Phys.org). The presence of grooves and grabens on Venus is causing a re-think about geological activity on Venus:For planetary scientists, Venus’s geologic heartbeat flat-lined around 700 million years ago.Now, a global view of some well-known deformation features on Venus’s surface may indicate it’s capable of crustal motion, and that motion might even be happening today, scientists reported Monday at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in New Orleans.Formation, stratification, and mixing of the cores of Earth and Venus (Icarus). This is the paper that makes habitable planets far more rare, as we reported 12/13/17. Venus differs profoundly from Earth, not having a magnetic field, because it was not hit by a large impact that supposedly hit Earth to form the moon. The five scientists “hypothesize that the accretion of Venus is characterized by the absence of such energetic giant impacts and the preservation of its primordial stratifications.” How does that idea fit the other anomaly at Venus of global volcanism that has apparently erased 90% of its earlier history?Explosive volcanism on Mercury: Analysis of vent and deposit morphology and modes of eruption (Icarus). Another volcanic anomaly is Mercury. This planet should long ago have solidified, but it has large volcanic provinces. This trio of scientists, including veteran planetologist James Head, finds another case of surprising youth. “We find evidence for formation into relatively recent mercurian history,” they say.Evidence for youth among the planets and moons in our solar system is everywhere. For planetary scientists who cannot give up their belief in old things, we’ll help them with a new word. For something that looks young but must be old to keep secular materialism alive, call it yold.last_img read more

New freedom for Women’s Jail

first_img11 November 2005The Women’s Jail on Constitution Hill has gone to Sao Paulo in Brazil . in the form of Utopia Nowhere Close, an exhibition of contemporary architecture.The exhibition, the 6th Sao Paulo International Biennale of Architecture and Design, is subtitled “Living in Cities: Reality Architecture Utopia”. It began in October and will run for two months, with some 500 000 visitors expected to attend.Eleven countries are taking part, including Argentina, Israel, Mexico and Portugal.The exhibition is curated by Johannesburg architects sharpCITY. “The exhibition explores how people live in the landscape that now has a different meaning,” says sharpCITY architect Anne Graupner, curator of the exhibition, in reference to post-apartheid South Africa.She says the exhibition explores a number of different aspects of the new South Africa: memory, urban landscape, freedom, education, advancement and suburbia.That’s why the Women’s Jail, among other Johannesburg buildings, was chosen – as an example of how a building is now used in a different period, with a different meaning. The restored and enlarged jail explores every one of these elements – today it is a place of human rights pursuit, lekgotlas and workshops, while at the same time displaying the recollections of the women’s dreadful treatment and torture.Other Johannesburg buildings at the exhibition are the Faraday Market, the Brickfields Housing Estate, the Drill Hall, the Apartheid Museum, the Hector Pietersen Museum, the Constitutional Court, the Metro Mall and the Nelson Mandela Yard Interpretation Centre in Alexandra.All these buildings pay respect to the past but look forward, redefining the landscape in a distinctive way.In all 50 projects, including a day care centre, a high school, several houses, a chapel and a public space project, have been submitted by 43 architectural firms across the country.The Women’s JailThe Women’s Jail, on the western edge of the densely populated Hillbrow, was built in 1909 to house women prisoners and is one of several prisons on Constitution Hill. Its architecture, reminiscent of the stolid structures of the British Edwardian period, sets it apart from the Fort and No 4 prison.Its attractive oval shape in rich red brick with prison cells radiating off it has been restored and turned into a museum, commemorating the thousands of women who were subjected to degrading treatment by the women warders. It is described by one ex-prisoner as “the devil’s place”.The unhappiness of the place is belied by a row of six large palm trees rustling in the breeze outside, with two large palm trees in its entrance. Beds of agapanthus plants nestle below these trees, buds ready to burst. Many women say they never noticed the garden as they entered the prison.It housed both common criminals and ordinary people, the latter often incarcerated with their children after being picked up on the city streets because they couldn’t show police their pass books.New structureA new structure has been built on the west and east wings of the original prison, giving it a northerly perspective. Made of glass and steel, its two wings at right angles to the prison, the building’s architecture and function are in sharp contrast to the prison. It houses the Centre for Gender Equality, the Public Protector and several other human rights organisations.Kate Otten of Kate Otten Architects says all decisions regarding the restoration were carefully made, in consultation with past prisoners, warders and conservationists.The architects’ brief, entitled Reclaiming history, explains the symbolism of the building: “The horror of the prisoners’ experiences, the injustice of apartheid laws and the silencing of protest had to be felt in the remains of structures and amplified through the architecture.“It was not only architectural history that was at stake here but the history of human beings, their lives distorted within these spaces.”The development has been sensitively handled. Some structures were demolished – later additions of no architectural or cultural significance. This helped restore the significance of the original buildings and courtyards.The demolitions revealed secrets of the prison’s history. On removing a layer of bricks, a partially disintegrated security grille was revealed, put there as a vault to store weapons for a later occupant, the Civil Cooperation Bureau. This was a much-hated body notorious for torture and murder of political activists in the 1980s (the prison was closed in 1982). In recognition of this layer of history, a glass door was placed in the grille, a comfortable juxtaposition of the old and the new.Several former prisoners have objected to the demolitions and restorations. But there’s a subtle memory trick at play here.“People’s memories are quite unclear,” says Otten. “Architects’ visual memories are trained.” Prisoners can’t always accurately remember the details of what was in the prison when they spent time within its walls. In fact, less was demolished than what was agreed to by the South African Heritage Resources Agency.The prison was restored in other ways – the walls were painted a “bland white”, damp problems were dealt with, and the roof was painted. A wall with peeling paint and damp patches was left untouched. It was a case of “maintenance, not sanitising” the building, says Otten.Part of the permanent exhibition in the jail is a huge pyramid of floor brushes, testimony to the hours the women spent on their hands and knees, scrubbing floors.The Women’s Jail was probably the cleanest prison in the country. Ex-prisoners recall spending their days cleaning and washing everything in sight: the walls, the floors, clothes, even the male prisoners’ clothes sent over from No 4.Transparent harshnessThe new buildings have a transparent harshness about them – the mostly glass walls reflect the light and offer intense views of the Women’s Jail; the buildings’ angular shape and metal finishes symbolise the cruelty of the place.Visitors will in fact not easily notice the entrance to the two new structures, seamlessly interwoven with the old building. “The new buildings touch the old building lightly,” says the brief. “They do not seek to imitate the existing buildings – both the new and the old are expressed individually.”The two new structures are three storeys, the first two fronted by a row of pillars the exact height of the prison, the third storey on the same level as the prison’s roof.In another embrace of the old and new, the awaiting trial building has been retained and incorporated into the new east wing, its red brick a catchy contrast to the glass and steel around it.A glass-covered walkway and wall bisects the old exercise yard, once a grey tiled area but now a lush grassy patch, a welcome relief to the hard surfaces around it. It was previously fenced with corrugated iron, several small iron shacks erected on its eastern side. These were gone before the architects started working on the site, but the rectangular shape of a hut is demarcated by a red metal frame on the lawn, complete with two buckets: one for drinking and washing, the other for ablutions. Up to four women were crammed into this suffocating space.‘Keeping the pain at bay’During the six months she spent as a political prisoner in the jail in 1976, sociologist and activist Fatima Meer produced drawings that are a valuable record of life there. But it had another purpose. “The art work I did in prison was perhaps a way of keeping the pain at bay.”The works, naive in their detailed execution, capture the humiliation of women crowded into small spaces, utterly at the mercy of the warders. Meer meticulously records every brick in a wall, an indication of hours in isolation but perhaps also of her need to capture every detail of the torturous experience.Joyce Piliso-Seroke, chairperson of the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE), a major tenant in the new buildings, has lived there before – in 1976 she spent time in solitary confinement. Now she walks through the prison on her way to work every day, on her way to her “beautiful office” where she enjoys a “beautiful view”.“My colleagues and staff of the CGE marvel at my composure and excitement about having our headquarters based at the jail. I tell them that coming here represents my final step in achieving closure.“My being here represents the triumph of our nation over a system that once denied people their humanity and dignity. My being here only emphasises that our sacrifices and struggle for human rights were not in vain.”The 6th Sao Paulo International Biennale of Architecture and Design runs from 22 October to 11 December. The exhibition will be shown in Cape Town at the Design Indaba 2006, and should then travel around the country, depending on sponsorship. For more details, visit the sharpCITY website.Source: City of Johannesburglast_img read more