Apartheid Museum


Apartheid Museum

View Project

The Apartheid Museum has been highly acclaimed, despite its somewhat controversial raison d’etre. The scheme is both complex embodiment of the horrors of South Africa’s apartheid past, and commemoration of its post-1994 constitutional achievements and the struggle fought to reach these. Its fluid interplay with surrounding landscape as well as its apparently paradoxical suggestions of restriction and free flow, engagement and disengagement, mark it as one of the most significant architectural works of the first ten years of democracy.

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.

share this project



Gold Reef City, Johannesburg


Akani Egoli

/ photo gallery
/ related projects