Iziko Slave Lodge – Urban Intervention #004: Drawing blood

Writing Architecture at the Old Slave Lodge

by MICHAEL LEWIS: Master of Architecture (Professional) Thesis, 2010

The project aims to open up this restrictive space, to create a new space in the city for people’s actions, events, memories and stories.

 The project is sited at the Old Slave Lodge in central Cape Town (formerly the SA Cultural History Museum). It proposes an alteration to this 17th century building that consists of a process of demolition, excavation, and rebuilding which informs a new space of display for the museum. Sitting alongside the existing remnants of the old apartheid-era displays and the Slavery at the Cape exhibition, this new space serves as an empty container for both the physical artefacts found on site during the excavation and for the external narratives of violence projected onto the site through the process of drawing and writing.

 This project explores narrative and its relation to architecture as way of understanding and projecting people’s actions in space. It does this through a process of excavating the conditions of hidden, latent or suppressed violence so much a part of the post-apartheid urban landscape.

Informed by a process of experimentation with operative drawing techniques, model-making, and reading of contemporary narratives based in Cape Town and other South African cities, the project draws on a variety of sources to weave together an architectural proposal that is based as much in the realm of narrative as it is in the physical. It seeks out a way of working that is located critically between the architect’s intuition, the external text, people’s actions and event, and the spatial and historical conditions pre-existent on site.

Supervisors: Jo Noero, Francis Carter, Nic Coetzer & Alta Steenkamp