Moruleng Cultural Precinct
Office 24/7 Architecture - South Africa
Drawings, plans, elevations
The brief for the project was to renovate the existing museum, restore the adjacent old Dutch Reformed Mission Church, and to develop a precinct. The vision for the precinct was that it should generate conversations and debates about cultural values, beliefs, knowledge systems and practices as they inform Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela identity and shape possible futures.
This project highlights Office 24-7 ‘s practice of constantly seeking new ways of working: collaborating across disciplines, working across fields and across scales in the frame of heritage, exhibition and museum design and development.
The exhibition is split between two key areas. The first considers culture and belief from the inside out, using highly visual and tactile installations that are introduced by a multi-screen video installation, explaining how creation stories, traditional beliefs and healing systems
Central to the exhibition is a curved, scalloped wall that mimics ancient stone walling, whilst acting as a backdrop for a multi-screen installation. This installation alone has over two thousand unique parts.
The entire installation in Room 1 pays homage to rural women, female energy and their power and influence. The second room of the museum looks at Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela history from the outside in, drawing on a variety of written rather than oral sources, and using the lens of traditional museum views.
Visitors make their way past the stonewalled structures and through the landscaped terrain to a restored Dutch Reformed Mission Church, built in 1889. A new ramp was constructed to deal with level changes. It was made of dark brick to reflect that it is a contemporary insertion, and a shadow detail was used to separate it from the original structure. Throughout the precinct a deliberate effort has been made to enable visitors to distinguish between the old and the new elements on the site.
The raked amphitheatre kgotla has been carved into the landscape with a latticed pergola structure providing shading. The pergola design is a contemporary reinterpretation of the lekgapo patterning traditionally used on floors and walls, but using lathes and steel. When the sun is overhead, beautiful shadow patterns are cast on the ground.
Landscaping was used to establish a unifying framework and to enforce and enhance new relationships between the heritage buildings on the site. Our intention was to look at the history through a broad lens, and as such the landscaping overlays and reconfigures the ground by utilising traditional stone walls, reconstructing the pattern of a nearby Iron Age Tswana settlement.
The precinct draws visitors in and inspires them to engage with the history and culture of a unique traditional community. It talks to issues of localised identity in a global framework, and as you move between interior and exterior spaces, between age-old beliefs and traditions and present-day realities.