This museum presents a narrative of the Apartheid era that is expressed not only through a series of exhibition spaces, but also through the archetypes employed in the assembly of this project.
Discretely set behind an artificially-created earth mound in the context of Gold Reef City, a theme park in Johannesburg, one finds a series of inanimate, undulating concrete walls, gabion-filled rusted cages, dry stacked rock walls and seven off-shutter concrete columns that represent the seven pillars of the constitution.
Lindsay Bremner has this to say about the project:
After ascending the entrance ramp, and descending into the museum again, one feels Matshikiza’s (2001) ‘claustrophobic panic’. The gratuitous ascent and descent this involves invoke a sense of manipulation and control, of being distanced from the world around one and entering a secret, restricted realm where everything is unknown and unpredictable. (Bremner 2002:39).
Careful attention was put into interactive elements in the landscaping. A playful interface with patrons is created on arrival, a juxtaposition with the ‘heaviness’ of the atmosphere on entering the museum and the harsh architectural language which one is confronted with, visually.
As Roodt* Architects, our role within the larger consortium of this project, was to engage in the project team discussions during the design phase and to provide technical input and assistance during the documentation phase of the project.
The success of this project may amongst others, be attributed to an architecture that balances the expression of fusion and separation, darkness and light, the past and the present, openness and enclosure, hapticity and movement.
Bremner, L. J. (2002) The Shape of Memory: The Apartheid Museum at Gold Reef City. South African Architecture Journal. (November/December) p. 34-43.
* In joint venture with : GAPP Architects and Urban Designers, Mashabane Rose Associates, Bannie Britz Architect and Urban Designer, Linda Mvusi Architecture and Design.