Choromanski Architects - South Africa
Drawings, plans, elevations
Situated 7 km from Durban’s CBD, Cato Manor experiences various complex challenges facing former townships – many of which are continuations of the systemic injustice of South Africa’s past. As one of the world’s largest forced removal sites, Umkhumbane is iconically remembered for being the most vibrant and diverse community in Durban during a time characterised by separation. Numerous accounts of this community express its richness, injustice, violence, protest, pain and beauty. Most powerfully, the stories of everyday realities: local nicknames, means of getting ‘forbidden liquor’ and friendships across racial lines tell of the strength of people to momentarily live outside the limits of political machines and the abstract city created by apartheid. eThekwini Municipality identified Cato Manor as an ideal location to develop the “uMkhumbane Museum ”, to preserve the rich cultural and political history and stimulate innovation. It provides the opportunity for contemporary culture and powerful heritage to converge, serving as a tool for social, economic and ecological regeneration. As part of a broader urban strategy, the site seeks to activate and network various cultural nodes within the community of Cato Manor through community involvement, local artists and leaders. The site at the confluence of two major arterials is crossed by the uMkhumbane River and included in the Durban Metropolitan Open Space System. It is in close proximity to residential areas, businesses and on the University of KwaZulu-Natal land. It is also significant as it was chosen by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini for the reinternment his mother Queen Thomozile Jezangani Ka Ndwandwe Zulu. The Queen lived in Mayville as a domestic worker in her later life and was recently found in a mass grave in Mayville. She became a muse to the Museum, and her contrasting life story is now honoured in traditional Zulu ceremony and contemporary architectural expression. The master plan includes the following: This node uses the idea of communal space to connect diverse people through open access to public services, by decentralizing cultural nodes. • a cultural park and public square; • galleries for permanent collection on forced removals, focusing on the struggle by women and children and temporary collections; • dedicated space for community exhibitions; • gathering areas for oral, performance, installation exhibits; • social gathering areas for functions, eg. book launches, festivals (film, writers, poetry, dance, music) • concession areas including traders market stalls, • theatre as multipurpose space, • children’ innovative facilities, • tour routes through the community and surroundings areas, extending the innovative entrepreneur spirit from the “uMkhumbane Museum Site ” through Cato Manor and Surrounding areas The urban strategy aims to use technology and public space innovatively to access, network and enhance the culture, serving as a tool for community members to leverage in the co-creation of today’s Umkhumbane Culture. The stories of Umkhumbane in the 1940s were example of diversity and community during apartheid. Cato Manor today could provide much needed stories of regeneration and redress in South Africa.