Source: Leo za1, Under Creative Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Freedom_Park-332.jpg
//Hapo is the new museum in Freedom Park in Pretoria. The park has been given a huge makeover in the last few years, //Hapo being park of this makeover. Freedom Park sits on the South side of Pretoria’s CBD. The park lies between the railway towards the south of the country and Pretoria Main road. Between these two large transport arteries, the park sits as an oasis of rest. The park is more than just a park, it is a memorial to the people who fought for freedom and a fairer and democratic South Africa. The park was opened in 2004, this included the Garden of Remembrance, were opened by the then president Thabo Mbeki.
//Hapo Museum was the second phase of the large upgrade given to the park. The first phase being the Garden of Remembrance, which was completed in 2008. //Hapo Museum was completed in 2013. The Museum was designed by 3 different architectural firms namely, Mashabane Rose Associates, GAPP Architects and Urban Designers and MMA Architects. These three firms were tasked with designing a museum that would showcase the history of the country and continent.
The building sits at the bottom of ‘Koppie’ hill, on the north side, closest to the city. The museum acts as the entrance to the Freedom Park and has the most important educational role in the park. The museum is an integral part of Freedom Park. It is the educating agent in the park and gives visitors the information and background to the purpose of the park. It may also give more context to people’s own personal feelings towards apartheid, feelings they can come to terms with at the Garden of Remembrance which sits of the top of ‘Koppie’ hill in the centre of the park.
To fulfil this educating role the museum’s floor plan is split into 7 epochs of history. Each epoch displays a central theme from an African perspective. The first epoch is Earth, it describes African mythology and legends on the creation of the universe. The second epoch looks at death and the afterlife, with a focus on the concept of ancestors. The third looks at the various civilizations that have sprung up across the continent. Looking at their culture, their technological innovations and their people. The fourth epoch takes us to one of the darkest times in Africa’s history, colonisation. The exhibition looks at how Africa resisted European colonization. The fifth epoch is deeply connected to the fourth epoch. It looks at the economic effects of industrialization and urbanization during colonial times and how people resisted and adapted to these changes in their life. The sixth epoch looks at nationalism in Africa and specifically in South Africa. The seventh looks at how and why South Africa changed from the times of apartheid towards a more democratic and a more just country.
The form of the building is inspired by the various boulders that dot the landscape around the hill. The jagged lines of the facade, that lean in and out, create a building that is unique from every angle. The building can be seen as five distinct forms that are connected either underground or via corridors. These forms are clad in copper plates that cover the exterior. These marron coloured plates enforce the idea of it being a boulder. This is further enforced by the small windows that are set back in the facade. The entire building uses two main materials, the copper plates for the forms that stick out, and marron bricks for the lower parts of the building.
Walking up to the entrance one is lead up various ramps to come to the same level as the entrance. This all gives the feeling of walking up to the mouth of a cave. This idea of a cave becomes very apparent in the interior from the changing heights of the ceiling to the small windows and slanted columns. The various exhibitions use many striking and vivid colours in juxtaposition to the relatively sober interior of the building. The interior is mainly white stucco and similar marron copper plates. From the inside, the windows give light mainly from high up. Shining down on the exhibitions throughout the day. These elements all create a strong cave-like feeling that creates a physical separation between the visitor and the outside world, meaning that the visitor can focus completely on the exhibitions.