The KwaThema Project

Wits BAS(Hons) Project

with Robyn Arnot, Catherine de Souza,
Khulas Mhlanga and Gareth Russel
2007

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KwaThema is a township on the outskirts of Ekurhuleni to the east of Johannesburg. The township was one of the first planned modernist townships in South Africa. Through research conducted by Hannah Le Roux, KwaThema was identified as an important site for extended architectural investigation as its evolution is of significant relevance to the post-apartheid narrative.

My group identified a ruined apartheid beer hall as a site for collaborative community intervention. The beer hall is an iconic structure in the community as it was burned down during the 1976 student uprisings. In researching the structure and history of the building, we continuously came across children who were playing on the dangerous ruin. This provided the impetus for our intervention. We planned and built a series of architectural alterations to the structure with community members that commemorated its history and created a social asset for local youth.

The project was featured on the cover of Modern Architecture in Africa by Antoni Folkers.