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Matola Raid Monument and Interpretative Centre
Maputo, Mozambique


2017SAIA MP Award for Architecture
2018SAIA Award of Merit


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25°58'22.80" S 32°28'08.87" E

Award of Merit Citation

It would seem that there is one universal truism and that is that the path to nationhood is partially written in the blood of those who had to give up their lives to achieve it. South Africa is no stranger to such traumatic events.

This project commemorates the South African Force's raid into Mozambique on 31 January 1981. This attack was made on three strategically targeted houses used by Umkhonto we Sizwe. Thirteen people died in the raid.

The Matola area is west of the CBD of Maputo. Topographically it is reasonably flat and featureless. The site exits off a traffic circle and a portion of land next to it. The traffic circle has six roads focusing on it, and this gives the site a high degree of visual prominence. The three homes where the attacks took place are within the area, but not close to the site of the monument.

The Matola Monument is placed on the traffic circle. The architects have placed three obelisks that are orientated in the directions of the three houses. Also, on the site are a further set of obelisks that commemorate the Front Line State of the time. On the adjacent site, the architects placed the interpretation centre. This elliptically shaped building houses an exhibition area on the ground floor and a community facility on the first floor. This first floor is reached by means of a ramp and a staircase.

The streets surrounding the monument and the interpretation centre have been paved. This assists with experiencing the development as a whole and has also created a well-defined urban space.

The development has been well received by the community. The area that started life only as a traffic circle, before the monument was constructed, has now been appropriated by the community. It is now a space where the community feels at home and where children can play safely. The first floor of the interpretation centre is an internet facility that serves the schools in the area as well as a space where the community leaders can meet. The development has had an appositive effect on the area in that some development and upgrading has followed.

The coastal and humid climate made great demands on the architects. The building also had to be robust to minimise the upkeep over the longer term.

The architects, like most architects in instances like this, used geometry and materials to represent the actual event. They also used huge artworks and light to great effect in the design. The colours used for the artworks are strong and bold and in keeping with the artistic traditions of the region. There is a wonderful dynamic quality to the architecture of the monument and interpretation centre. The architects understood that the built forms that they have created would be experienced by means of movement, either on foot or by car. This they have done extremely well to create a memorable experience.

Writings about this entry

South African Institute of Architects . 2018. Awards : South African Institute of Architects. Awards for Excellence, Awards of Merit, Regional Awards for Architecture 2017/2018. Cape Town: Picasso for SAIA. pg 72, 73 ill