The museum, located adjacent to Gold Reef City in south west Johannesburg, was the result of the social component conditional upon the award of a casino licence.
The museum consists of a largely single-storied, flat-roofed, L-shaped, linear complex which is partly buried in the surrounding landscape. Access is via a ramp on the south which leads up to the roof and then permits the penetration of the body of the building via a lift and stairs. There are ten display spaces which provide 5 000m2 of exhibition space, as well as 500m2 of administration and archive space. An additional building on the east of the site holds a bookshop, coffee shop and security office. A grouping of concrete columns, each representing one of the principles of the Constitution, signals the entrance and are the only elements that protrude above the virtually hidden building/landscape.
The building’s materiality is prominent and unique, including rock-filled gabion walls, dry-stacked stone walls, raw plaster, off-shutter concrete, and slim red face-brick. Indigenous landscaping by Patrick Watson – which plays with contrasting grasses, and gravel/ concrete planks – works to envelope the building into its topography. Reflecting ponds at the eastern fringes of the complex deliver a sense of solemn contemplation.