Salvokp, South Africa
Client: Freedom Park Trust
Architects: GAPP Architects/ Urban Designers, MMA Architects, Mashabane Rose
Landscape Architects: NBGM Landscape Architecture Joint Venture (Newton Landscape Architects, GREENinc and Gallery Momo)
Driven by the necessity for the diverse people of South Africa and the world to understand and appreciate the country’s struggle for liberation, The Freedom Park was born as a national and international icon of humanity and freedom.
The Freedom Park, with its Garden of Remembrance, is located on a 52-hectare site on Salvokop Hill at the entrance into Tshwane (Pretoria) from Johannesburg.
The uphill climbs and winding roads serve a very symbolic purpose at The Freedom Park: it stands as a testimony to the arduous road that South Africans had to travel to reach their destination of humanity and freedom.
Documentation issued by the Freedom Park Trust highlights the significance of high ground, rock, hills and mountains in African culture. “Essentially, the rock is our home… in the mountains African people listened to the voice of silence. Mountains and hills served as a seat of governance for many of the royal kraals. Mountains were considered sacred by some groups who used to go there to pray for rain, or to bury kings in the caves… believing that the ancestors reside there… a step to the heavens and to our humanity.”
The entire site – a natural indigenous garden – constitutes the Garden of Remembrance. It is intended to become “a national symbol for reparation, a symbol of healing, a symbol of cleansing, a place where the spirits of those who lost their lives for freedom can rest.”
The conceptual design for the Garden evolved as an iterative process between the design team – including the landscape architects and architects – and an advisory panel established by Freedom Park Trust. The panel included traditional healers, artists and academics specialising in African culture and indigenous knowledge systems, who provided information and guidance on cultural matters.
The Garden of Remembrance creates the context in which the various elements will be built and anticipates further development in the future, as South Africa’s story unfolds.
The Elements of the Park:
Situated on the eastern side of the hill is Isivivane – a sanctuary, the resting place for the spirits of those who died in the struggles for humanity and freedom. The concept of Isivivane is derived from the word ‘viva’, which means ‘to come together in a group’.
This consists of five areas:
Gallery of Leaders
Wall of Names
On the crest of Salvokop, subtly blending into the curves of the hill, nestles Sikhumbuto – The Freedom Park’s major memorial element. It stands as a testimony to the various conflicts that have shaped the South Africa of today and commemorates those who have sacrificed their lives for humanity and freedom.
The concept of Sikhumbuto is drawn from siSwati nomenclature and signifies a place of remembrance for those who have died and also a place for invoking their assistance in current and future affairs.
A high-level hospitality suite, which will be used for presidential and diplomatic functions, currently being used as a temporary exhibition space.
Mveledzo is a spiral path, which links all the elements of The Freedom Park together. It has been designed in such a way that visitors are taken on a contemplative journey in the serenity of the natural landscape as they walk between Isivivane and Sikhumbuto.
Uitspanplek is a peaceful place where families can spend the day together or where visitors to the Park can relax after a tour. The tranquility of this area, with its panoramic view over the city, makes for an ideal reflective space.
Earmarked for completion in late 2009, two of The Freedom Park’s elements, namely Isivivane and Sikhumbuto, have been opened for public visitation during 2007.
As time goes by, The Park will play a primary role in healing South Africa’s wounds by uniting her diverse people towards reconciliation and nation building.
*Winner: World Architecture Festival Awards 2008 – Nature Category