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Author:Martinson, William
Title:The Bhunga Building Nelson Mandela Museum Mthatha : Proposed Museum Upgrade : Heritage Impact Assessment
Place:East London
Publisher:Osmond Lange Architects for Impendulo Design Architects

SAIA Award of Merit - 2012


The Heritage Impact Assessment of the Bhunga Building in Mthatha sets out clearly the objectives of the detailed research, namely the need to assess the cultural significance of the building. This in turn allows for the formulation of development and management guidelines for the future changes planned for the building.

The report demonstrates thorough research. It succinctly summarises the requirements of the National Heritage Resources Act, a summary which can be used as a guide by others working in the field. The basic principles of the legislative framework are well understood. International best practice as set out in the Burra Charter is also applied through the study.

The time lines setting out the 83 year history of the construction, function and alteration of the building are described. The report is well illustrated.

The research report is a model for other similar Heritage Impact Assessments and is already being used in a web site to this end.

The report receives an award for adding to the wealth of architectural knowledge.

Award of Merit Citation

It is a pleasure to read an unpretentious humbling heritage impact assessment that is thorough on detail of content and in how it satisfies procedures stipulated by the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999 and the Burra Charter. The author's refined literary skills give the impact assessment's advocational and educational focus the power and thrust befitting of the illustrious history of the building and the new commemorative, iconic functional purpose of the building.

The systematic unpacking of the building's conception and architectural make up, serve as a flawless foundation upon which the heritage assessment is able to build its statement of significance, out of which recommendations can be extracted that would continue to uphold the legacy of this building. The reader is tempted to exclaim that the author attempts to bring to the fore that from the very founding of the building, it was anointed if not blessed to culminate in being the stage upon which the mesmerising account of an individual as special and stately as Nelson Mandela would be exhibited for generations to come.

Exceptionally few Housing Industry Associations (HIA) evoke the level of captivating and intoxicating quality a reader experiences as he/she is drawn not only to be informed on the value of the building, but to be pleasantly entertained by the sequential narration of the social history that brought about the building. This narration is given great impetus by the depth of very high profiled and socially significant biographies of the key individuals, groups, communities, organisations and state organs, all of which further promulgate the extent of the building's heritage significance.

As the HIA draws towards conclusion, it maintains its elaborate identification of the National Hot Rod Association's (NHRA) stipulations, conclusively ironing out the requirements of the NHRA, leading to succinctly articulated recommendations at the end of the document. The most interesting observation of this HIA, is that throughout the document, it does not conflate the independent legacies of the building and that of Mandela; for example, the HIA successfully avoids the Nelson Mandela legacy downplaying the building's stature as a timeless iconic landmark of Mthatha.

Buildings linked to this book

Bhunga Building - Chamber and offices of United Transkeian Territories General Council, 1928, Mthatha (Umtata), Eastern Cape. pp All