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Department of Architecture

Michael Ramage wins the Wienerberger Brick Award 2012 with Peter Rich and John Ochsendorf for the Mapungubwe Interpretive Centre

International architecture critics and architecture journalists submitted nominations for scores of outstanding buildings constructed using clay products. A total of 50 projects from 28 countries on five continents were shortlisted and the final decision was made by the international jury composed of architects Plamen Bratkov (Bulgaria), Rudolf Finsterwalder (Germany), Hrvoje Hrabak (Croatia), John Foldbjerg Lassen (Denmark) and Zhang Lei (China).

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre: The philosophy of the location

Grand-prize winner and winner of the category “Special Solution with Brick” is South Africa’s Peter Rich, together with Michael Ramage and John Ochsendorf, for the Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa. The architect’s goal was to create a space in which to exhibit the archaeological finds in their original environment of the National Park. The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003.

The Visitor Centre reinterprets ancient vaulting techniques and uses the most sophisticated, scientifically sound construction methods. In collaboration with the University of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the architect analysed Mediterranean domes as a basis for the project. “The low-tech hi-tech balance, together with references to the extraordinary local landscape, creates an architecture with universal and timeless dimensions,” says jury member Hrvoje Hrabak.

Beyond his architectural activities, Peter Rich researched extensively the settlements of the Ndebele, Bantwane and Tswana peoples: “I look at their rooms and create something with a philosophy that is rooted to the sense of the location.” Peter Rich Architects took special care to involve the local population in the realisation of the project. For the construction of the new complex, which mainly consists of vaulted pavilions of various sizes, the architects opted for the use of handmade bricks and tiles produced by local workers from clay soil, cement and water.

Wienerberger Brick Award Winners 2012

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