As a ramped narrative journey space the project
slowly unfolds the events of June 16 1976 and reveals the unique
history of the surrounding area with some of the interpretive
narrative being written on the windows that frame significant
historical sites (the police station, the shooting site, the
final rallying space - Orlando stadium)
The museums red brick repeats the brick of the
houses of the area striking a deep relationship with history
12 year-old Hector Pieterson was the first of
hundreds of students to be killed by the police in the student
uprising against Bantu education in 1976. Sam Nzimas famously
iconic photograph of the events raised headlines throughout
the world and remains symbolic of the tragedy and bravery of
the youth uprising.
The Hector Pieterson commemorative memorial
(which is 600m away from the actual shooting site) established
a physical marker in the form of an engraved red granite stone,
not only to memorialize the many students who died, but also
to symbolize the courage of youth in changing the perceptions
of adults that Apartheid was an overwhelming problem.
Red brick was used for the museum, to match
the red brick houses from the early fifties surrounding the
square. Within the building, the exhibit route follows a ramping
loop around a stark central courtyard, in which all the names
of the students who died are memorialised in granite slabs in
a gravel bed.
The museum is situated in the heart of where
the uprisings took place and the narrative is punctuated by
windows that allow visitors to see the actual buildings or streets
where the events unfolded. Text on the glass aid the narrative
and visitors are confronted with historical photographic footage
juxtaposed with the contemporary view of Soweto outside, orientating
the visitors in time and spatial context.
A ‘flame-line’ of grass slices through
the memorial landscape from the museum towards the location
where 12 year old Hector Pieterson was gunned down.