Voortrekker Monument Museum

Designing for a grade 1 national heritage site

Planning on the project started in 2010 when the client charged MEG to create a multi-cultural museum spanning across the centuries of South African settlement development. Specifically focusing on materials, mud, grass, wood, textiles, glass etc. MEG set out to realise this vision, however, the eventual end product went through many metamorphoses during the 8 year project time line.

The initial brief was to create a humble portal frame shed to house the exhibition, however, managerial changes in the Voortrekker Monument’s structures in 2013 changed the expectation of what this museum, building and exhibition should reflect. The approval of the development funds in 2013 and the management shuffle triggered a redesign from the humble portal frame shed to something more monumental. Subsequently, the required budget for the new design tripled from a project fee of R8 million to R24 million, which had to be re-submitted to the Nation Lottery Fund for approval. The NLF declined the application for the increased funds, sending the entire team back to the drawing board.

A third management shuffle in 2016 requested the building revert to the previous concept’s humble roots of the shed concept while still incorporating some of the elements of the second grand concept.

By now the approved R8 million budget has depreciated to a current value going to tender of R5.7 million. It was decided that the old Cultural Hall be used as the base of the museum and to develop a stone and timber kraal around the existing structure. The desired intent of the architecture was to remain humble in its context while still maintaining an individual presence on the Voortrekker Monument grounds


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