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Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre, Qunu Village, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

Monday 08 Jun 2009

A lasting legacy

copyright: Stauch Vorster Architects 
Your comments on this project

No. of Comments: 3

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03/02/11 jayuar, lusaka
i'm an architectural student doing similar project for my final year thesis. any tips on where i can access the full set of drawings for this work. i intend to use it for my case studies.thank you.
08/12/10 Peter, PE
As inspiring, vibrant and aesthetically pleasing as one ply no-name brand, and just as easy to poke holes in. As a youth centre? "EPIC FAIL".
To do a Youth Centre one has the opportunity to do something for the community, to create a building as vibrant as the surrounding culture, all i see when I look at this is blocks of brown.
Cant believe it took 3 firms to do this.
Click for more ...
08/12/10 David, Cloete
More sheds. Is this really what the quest for a South African architectural identity has amounted to? An assortment of unexpressive, uninspired boxes topped off with cheap corrugated metal.
And what does that giant roof do?

Award Entry

Stauch Vorster Architects completes rural monument to Mandela 

This group of buildings is sited on a hill inset to the Qunu Village, 1,5km from Nelson Mandela’s rural home. To the north of the site, 50m away, lie the remains of the round clay buildings where he attended primary school. The government department of Arts and Culture commissioned the project as a gift to Nelson Mandela who in turn requested that the building be designed for the enjoyment of all South Africans, particularly children who could stay there and enjoy the peace of rural life that he holds so dear. The chiefs and headmen of the surrounding villages were consulted regarding their vision of the proposed development. All agreed that local vernacular rural architectural language could be drawn from but not copied in any way and should reflect simple buildings of international appeal.

Traditional huts of the area employ a timber branch post and rafter construction so that the house frame is erected before cladding the walls with hand placed clay and thatched roofing. The team of architects (Stauch Vorster, Osmond Lange and Mtetwa & associates) led by Stauch Vorster Architects employed a similar system of construction, but with robust galvanised steel framing with soft formed clay brickwork infill and profiled steel roofing. The site is close to the crest of the Upper Qunu hill, so the building roofs were kept low to prevent the development from being obtrusive and breaking the skyline. North East and West facades employed thick masonry enclosure with the soft south valley facing facades constructed from aluminium framing with glass and timber shiplap infill.

The buildings congregate along an inter village path as a ribbon type of layout. The cultural great space forms the focus of the development surrounded by a tourist restaurant, a small museum to display Mr Mandela’s gifts, a community hall and resource centre and offices. To the west, 6 single and double level buildings with 2 rooms per level are placed along the path, with a dining hall and kitchen and sports hall at the far end. To the east, a craft manufacturing building and a caretaker’s home complete the development.

The Qunu community participated intimately in the construction. The contractor was only allowed to bring 20% skilled labour to the site, the remainder was made up of unskilled local residents (cultural customs dictate that women carry out most manual labour so women made up much of the workforce). In order to leave behind new skills in this rural area, the designers focussed on finishes which could be made on site, i.e. paving flagstones, pebble embedded paving, tinted floors, wattle screens, carved timber steel post inserts, sheet iron light fittings and cupboard door infill, wall mosaics, nursery planting, extensive stone walls (stone was collected by residents within a 30km radius from the site). All of the work involving the community far exceeded the team’s expectations in quality and character and imbued the project with personality and a sense of community ownership. The result is a complex of modest, carefully simple buildings which quietly occupy their place between villages among the rolling Eastern Cape hills.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
Were you involved in this scheme?
Stauch Vorster Architects (Pty) Ltd

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