“Small is big” is the slogan of Cool Capital, the DIY guerilla platform that endorses a citizen led initiative that strengthens communities and promotes pride in Pretoria. The platform works as a starting point and guiding structure for preconceived projects that will brighten up the community. Often someone may have a great idea but lack a way to go about making it a reality. This is where Cool Capital steps in to help.

In 2012, Pieter Mathews, partner at Mathews and Associates Architects in Pretoria, attended the Architecture Venice Biennial, an international architecture exhibit that invites artists from the best countries to present their work every two years. It was at the Canadian pavilion that Mathews saw a poster encouraging citizens to take active control over their city. As a result Mathews decided to bring this initiative back to Pretoria and in 2014 he started Cool Capital. According to Jana Kruger, junior architect at Mathews and Associates, Cool Capital intends to show citizens the value of art in South Africa because there is currently a lack of influence in the creative community.

In August 2014 Information Design students at UP created the “Stop in the name of love” project in collaboration with Cool Capital. Students constructed a rollout zebra crossing that was then applied on a road in need of a pedestrian passage. Once the crossing was rolled out, students in reflective shirts would stop traffic with signs that read “stop in the name of love, before you break our bones” while pedestrians were free to cross. The project encouraged a sense of privilege and acknowledgement among the pedestrians.

Universities, high schools and groups with a cause are encouraged to submit their ideas on Cool Capital’s website and the platform will then get in contact with them in order to plan how to make their idea a reality. All mediums of art and design that promote positive social and environmental change are accepted and can include dance, murals and film. The platform’s goal is to create a structure that encourages communication and produces results that bring about excitement and local change.

Cool Capital has become so successful that their platform has been introduced into certain curriculums, such as that of second year architecture students at UP who have been designing beehives or “Honey Houses” as part of their practical work. This project allows students to construct a challenging model while being made aware of the importance of bees and their ecosystems.

The 2016 Architecture Venice Biennial invited Cool Capital to attend this year’s exhibition. The exhibition will run from September to October. The biennial will exhibit a range of art movements and pieces that have inspired the community of Pretoria. The pavilion will also give South Africa a chance to showcase the best up and coming artists whether they are professionals or amateurs.

Cool Capital invites everyone to share or join in because every idea, no matter how small, has a big impact that’s necessary in generating social change.

Photo: Kim Morrow

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