18 August 2011 - On the 5th of August 2011, a multi-million rand development was launched in Howick at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site where former president Nelson Mandela was arrested exactly 49 years ago.
Currently, there is only a plaque to mark this site, yet it will soon play host to the establishment of a museum, multipurpose theatre and amphitheater, tourism and supporting educational and cultural facilities to be situated on this site.
Global engineering, management and specialist technical services group, Aurecon, in co-operation with Boogertman & Partners, were contracted by the uMngeni municipality (with the assistance of the KZN Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta)) to complete architectural design for the development last year. This included ‘packaging’ the development in terms of land usage and concept design.
“Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the vision for this village is the way in which its many parts form a cohesive whole. The gardens are integral to the concept and are envisaged to be the ‘glue’ that will knit the complex together,” commented Aurecon project manager Marietjie van Zyl.
The most prominent aspect of the village will be the heritage museum, positioned in close proximity to the monument with a viewing platform that hovers towards it. The educational aspects of the scheme are found in the next immediate zone away from the monument in the form of a multipurpose space to be used as an educational venue. An amphitheatre links the museum and this space, whilst the hotel complex is positioned furthest away from the monument. Retail and restaurant facilities are also found in this zone, all arranged around a court that integrates the spaces together.
The parking is separated from the courts by a small level difference, thus separating vehicular from pedestrian traffic, whilst the hotel complex is nestled into the existing wooded area, away from the commercial aspect of the project, providing much-needed privacy.
One of the many challenges this project poses is that the site was obtained before the necessary feasibility studies were carried out. A wetlands delineation, conducted by Terratest (Pty) Ltd, has revealed that the site harbours permanent wetland conditions and a 20 m wetland buffer which will affect both the planning and layout of the development. In addition, although geological surveys concluded that the site is suitable for the proposed development, measures need to be taken to address certain constraints associated with existing geological conditions.
“Despite these constraints, an official Environmental Assessment Study revealed that all statutory approvals could be complied with, and the development will go ahead as planned,” comments Jako Strydom, Aurecon urban and regional planner. He adds that Aurecon are proud to have provided strategic input into this historic project. “The development will not only serve as a monument to our past, but also the future that arose from this respected leader’s journey,” he concludes.