MASHABANE ROSE ASSOCIATES – architects & urban designers | HECTOR PIETERSON MUSEUM

HECTOR PIETERSON MUSEUM

SOWETO

HPM7
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THE SITE FOR THIS PROJECT WAS AT A POINT OF CONVERGENCE OF A ROAD SYSTEM AND THE HISTORIC MARCHES THAT TOOK PLACE IN JUNE 1976 WHEN STUDENTS SET OUT FOR ORLANDO STADIUM.

WITH THE CLOSURE OF ONE ROAD, WE WERE ABLE TO FORM A BUILDING FRONTED BY A PUBLIC OPEN SPACE IN THE CENTRE OF ORLANDO WEST THAT IS UNFENCED AND TODAY IS STILL UNDAMAGED BY VANDALISM. IT IS HEAVILY USED BY LOCALS CRISS-CROSSING IT ON THEIR WAY TO WORK AND TRANSPORT POINTS, AND VISITORS WANDERING AROUND THE COMMEMORATIVE SPACE.

HAVING LEARNED FROM EXTENSIVE RESEARCH INTO THE EVENTS OF JUNE 16, THE MOVEMENT OF STUDENTS ALONG THE ROADS AND THE CLASH WITH POLICE THAT LEAD TO THE DEATH OF HECTOR PIETERSON, WE WERE ABLE TO DEVELOP THE BUILDING AS A DEVICE TO UNPACK THE EVENT ITSELF BY FRAMING PORTIONS OF IT WITH WINDOWS AND VIEWPORTS TO CLEARLY ARTICULATE SPATIALLY WHAT OCCURRED. THE BUILDING SLOWLY RAMPS UP OVER THREE METRES TO SECOND-FLOOR LEVEL: IT FRAMES VIEWS AND WRITES TEXT ON THE GLASS THAT REFERS TO THE SIGNIFICANT MOMENTS OF THAT FATEFUL DAY. THE EFFECT IS POPULAR WITH VISITORS WHO HAVE AN ELEVATED VIEW OF SOWETO.

THE OLD ‘RED BRICK AND SHEETING’ HOUSES BUILT IN 1948 THAT SURROUND THE BUILDING ARE USED AS A FINISH ON THE INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF THE BUILDING. THE SUBTITLES ON THE BLACK AND WHITE FILMS WERE ALSO DONE IN RED, AS WERE SEVERAL OTHER ARCHITECTURAL ELEMENTS.

THE USE OF THE RED BRICK IS PARTICULARLY NOTEWORTHY WHEN SEEN IN THE AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH, WHERE THE SCHEME APPEARS TO FIT EASILY INTO THE TEXTURE OF ORLANDO WEST. INDEED, FROM MANY DISTANT VANTAGE POINTS, THE MEMORIAL SITS QUIETLY AND COMFORTABLY IN ITS SURROUNDINGS.

THE BUILDING IS IMAGINED AS A LARGE BLOCK OF SCULPTED BRICK. THE PUBLIC SPACE IS EDGED WITH A LINE OF BLACK-SLATE WALLS TO SCREEN THE ROAD ACTIVITY AND CALM THE COMMEMORATIVE SPACE DOWN. A WATER FEATURE ENHANCES THE ORIGINAL MEMORIAL STONE, WHICH IS REPRESENTED, LIFTED AND HELD, MUCH LIKE THE LIFELESS BODY OF HECTOR IN THE WELL-KNOWN PHOTOGRAPH. ETCHED QUOTES IN GRANITE-TOPPED BENCHES COMPLETE THE NARRATIVE ELEMENTS OF THE PROJECT.

THE CENTRAL VOID OR COURTYARD OF THE BUILDING IS FILLED WITH THE NAMES OF THE APPROXIMATELY 700 STUDENTS WHO DIED AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THE UPRISING, ETCHED ON BRICK-SIZE BLOCKS. SCHOOL GROUPS WANDER THROUGH THESE NAMES, LOOKING FOR THE ONES THEY REMEMBER AND LOCATING THE MORE FAMOUS NAMES.

THE RED-BRICK INTERIOR ARCHITECTURAL DETAILS MAKE USE OF BENT STEEL-PLATE BALUSTRADE PANELS AND ANGLE-IRON FRAMES BOLTED TOGETHER, COBRA-WAXED TO A DULL FINISH AS A HARSH REMINDER OF THE WEAPONS USED TO CONFRONT THE SCHOOL CHILDREN. BLUE POLICE LIGHTS RECALL THE VEHICLES AND A BRIDGE IS BUILT TO TAKE THE VISITOR UP TO A WINDOW THAT FRAMES THE POLICE STATION ACROSS THE VALLEY, MARKING THE POINT FROM WHICH THE POLICE LAUNCHED THEIR OFFENSIVE.

RATED AS THE #3 MUSEUM TO SEE IN GAUTENG BY TRIPADVISOR

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