Architects: MMA Architects, Mashabane Rose and GAPP Architects
FREEDOM PARK PHASE 1 Pretora, Tshwane 2001 -2003
The inception of the freedom Park garden of Remembrance followed an exhaustive consultation process with various political formations, faith-based groups, traditional healers, artists and historians. This phase consisted of developing a framework for the development of the site, initial infrastructure, a visitor’s centre and the Isivivane, symbolic resting place for South Africa’s fallen heroes. The architectural and landscape challenge was to interpret and provide for the management of death and bereavement based on indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) at the level of the state. The Isivivane consists of an outdoor memorial and contemplative space where the bereaved can pay homage to those who died in struggle in various places around the country and beyond. Boulders from each province of the country were used as leitmotifs or touchstones for the inter-faith prayers that took place around the country as part of national reconciliation as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for symbolic reparations. These boulders which symbolically house the spirits of the departed were then imported to site and formed the basis of the memorial space along with other symbolic elements such as water, the wild olive tree and rocks and boulders.
Freedom Park phase 1a: Iskhumbuto The next phase of the Freedom Park consisted of the development of Isikhumbuto, which consists of various additional elements that complete the garden of remembrance. These elements were designed to reinforce the idea of the whole hill as the “monument,” a contemporary reinterpretation of indigenous memorialisation. The architectural challenge was to create a “non-monumental” monument that speaks to the triumph of the human spirit over conflict with itself and with nature. The elements consist of “the Reeds” that symbolically connect this life with the afterlife, the “wall of Remembrance” with the names of the fallen heroes, the sanctuary and amphitheatre with the eternal flame, “Moshate” hospitality space for visiting dignitaries and Hall of Leaders, honoring the leaders who contributed to Freedom. This phase also consisted of various other contemplative places, arranged around the site to take advantage of the views and choreograph the historical narratives developed for the site.
Freedom Park: Phase 2 Freedom Park Museum //HAPO (meaning ‘The Dream’) and the Pan African Archive are housed together as a centre of knowledge capturing South African history from 3.6 billion years ago to the present day. Its primary objectives are to create a deeper understanding of South Africa and its people, to create new knowledge of South African history, culture, and spirituality, and to place the country’s entire history in a context whose integrity will be respected nationally and internationally.
Designed by GAPP Architects + Urban Designers, Mashabane Rose Associates and MMA Architects under the collaborative office OCA, the building is located within a garden of healing and remembrance overlooking the city of Pretoria: Freedom Park. The vision of //HAPO as a series of abstract boulders resonates with several traditional African ideas of healing, pays homage to the rocky African landscape and reflects the spirit of traditional, indigenous knowledge systems. The hard landscaped surfaces, which surround the building, have been gently shaped to echo the boulder forms of the building and to extend the boulder theme into the landscape.
Cracks and fissures of natural boulders changing over thousands of years are mimicked in the design of the windows with their deep-set openings and complex irregular shapes, permitting just enough natural light to reinforce the sense of a dimly lit cave. Internally the interconnecting boulders expand and contract providing exhibition spaces which lean and fold through the large volumes and compressed spaces alluding to the mountainous shelters of traditional healers live and Khoisan.
Clad in copper, the material’s malleability has provided the opportunity for complex surfacing and furthermore allows the building skin to transform over time, slowly merging within the hillside. Copper is also particularly significant as an abundant material used to trade in Africa over thousands of years.