CIfA 2019 Award for Architecture: !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre – KLG Architects


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The !Khwa Ttu San Heritage Museum is one building within a collection of buildings on a hill looking towards the west coastline. In a somewhat ironic play on time, this newest building within this complex, in both its purpose and design, speaks to a time long before the conception of the older “Cape Dutch” buildings.

As one drives up the hill from the west coast national road, within a game reserve, one encounters a Cape Dutch werf, surrounded by beautifully restored and repurposed lime-washed white walled langhuise. Around the corner, and hidden from immediate view, one begins a journey back down the slopes, and encounters this modern building which is essentially a space that comes from the natural landscape and consists in essence of a floor and a roof. The curved glass wall which encloses this space ensures one is always connected to the view to the sea, and the hard rocky “wall” to the rear provides a sense of protection, of refuge and prospect.

The siting of the building, slightly removed from the colonial settlement above it, allows one to immerse more fully into a homage to the original inhabitants of this landscape.

Surrounding indigenous vegetation comes up to and into the space, and also covers the roof of it.

This subtle and respectful, and essentially modern building provides a place of dignity and cultural restitution for the San peoples of Southern Africa.

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