Umkhumbane Museum wins Grand Prix

This year the Africa Architecture Awards Grand Prix was awarded to Choromanski Architects for the new Umkhumbane Museum in Durban. 

The award aims to recognise and reward worthy projects from around the continent and to create a broader awareness of the issues and opportunities inherent in the built environment through dialogue, analysis and critique.

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.

Umkhumbane Museum wins Grand Prix 1

 

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.

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