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Department of Architecture

Mapungubwe National Park Interpretation Centre by Michael Ramage, Peter Rich and John Ochsendorf has been shortlisted for the Aga Kahn Award for Architecture

The Mapungubwe Interpretive Centre in South Africa uses novel design and construc­tion techniques to allow local materials and labour to be used in production. The pro­ject is developed for labour-intensive construction to enable poverty relief and skills transfer into the surrounding area. Form-finding based on equilibrium thrust line analy­sis allows the design of thin unreinforced masonry shells that act in pure compression. Digital models let us translate advanced geometry into simple guides for construc­tion. Traditional tile vaulting, using locally- made, pressed soil-cement tiles, allows the complex shapes to be built by newly trained workers without extensive formwork. A hands-on programme of design and construction suggests a new way to jointly man­age architecture and development programs. This merging of novel structural geom­etry with traditional materials and craft has resulted in a new interpretation centre for a trans-frontier national park in South Africa.

Click here for more information on the Aga Kahn Award shortlist.