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Magazine Hill : a weathered continuum

Part 2 Dissertation 2012
Clifford Gouws
University of Pretoria Pretoria South Africa
This dissertation for the professional master’s degree in architecture deals with the reclamation and commemoration of an abandoned military site called Magazine Hill, Pretoria, South Africa. The historic terrain has lost its relevance in contemporary society, due to its intended haunting purposes of ammunition production. The project explores an architectural intervention that commemorates the past while embracing the future.
This dissertation is rooted within a process of unification, a personal struggle to understand the fragile relationship that exists between architecture and time. The project focuses on architecture’s potential to adapt according to the passage of time, through the process of aging and weathering. This study is founded in the aim to re-establish a connection between the continuum of time and architecture.
The project places contemporary commemorative architecture under the limelight, criticising the static notion of heritage commemoration through the typologies of museums and memorials. These typologies often evolve into static monuments, where the relevance to contemporary society can be questioned. The architectural response of this dissertation is thus focused on commemoration through everyday use.

The proposed historical site (Magazine Hill) forms a comprehensive construct of different layers of time and influence. This mysterious, abandoned and isolated site consists of two ammunition magazines, five bomb shelters and ammunition factories, all structures that represent an era of unrest in South Africa. In 1945 a mysterious explosion of the Central Magazine scarred the face of Magazine Hill, leading the activities on the site to an early death, trapping architecture in time and abandonment.

The proposed programme forms part of the conceptual premise of mediation, unifying different opposites inherent in both Magazine Hill and the South African context. A brass foundry is proposed to recycle the spent ammunition shells of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), thereby introducing brass artists as a public interface to Magazine Hill. Where ammunition was once produced, ammunition is now reduced. This programme could form mediation between the public and the military; exposing different layers of the past by reinstating a connection between architecture and time.

The full dissertation is available on http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-11302011-195515/ , and an accompanying short film on YouTube: Maga

Clifford Gouws

Tutor(s)
Jacques Laubscher
Mr Rudolf Van Rensburg
2012
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