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AfrikaUK

Peter Rich Architects / South Africa ALEXANDRA INTERPRETATION CENTRE, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, 2000 The Interpretation Centre celebrates Nelson Mandela in the township that was his first home in Johannesburg, when he moved to the city from the Eastern Cape in the 1940s. The new Interpretation Centre is a three-floor structure for mixed use, conceived as a bridge spanning the lively, noisy streets of Alexandra. The programme includes an exhibition space, a jazz archive for the rich musical history born here, a library, training facilities, shops and restaurants. Through the design the building also generates two urban squares, places that can be taken over as the residents wish, envisaged for both organized events like film shows and the informality of street life. On a sunny day you might find someone getting a haircut or having a birthday party, or both, in the same place. Respect for the immediate surroundings and people of Alexandra played a major role in the construction of this project. The centre takes over elements from the context through the collagelike qualities of the facade, the juxtapositions of spaces and the labyrinth-like circulation. In parallel with this, a large part of the budget is focused on the impact on residents through initiatives that develop training and skills, the building-up of a heritage team, and widespread retail opportunities. The Interpretation Centre is a platform where the people of Alexandra can address new opportunities while cherishing their own culture. 186  NEW COMMUNITIES


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