Architecture and/in place: Studying the physical and contextual connection between buildings and landscape

Master Thesis


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This dissertation explores the relationship between people, architecture, and landscape. The theoretical research studies the relationship between people, their culture, and landscape as defining elements of place and how it informs architectural design. The aim of this is to relate the character and structure of place as defined by landscape and culture to create in-place buildings. This theory is then applied to the design of a museum for the San hunter-gatherers that dwelled in Elands Bay in the Western Cape thousands of years ago. The early history of the San hunter-gatherers mainly exists in university collections and museums outside Elands Bay. This contrasts with the surrounding landscape having numerous archaeological sites showing the rich history of the San living there. This includes the Elands Bay caves and campsites discovered to the north of the town. There is currently no place in Elands Bay where this history can be portrayed. To give further credibility to the development of a museum, the Department of Art and Culture released a report in 2013 setting out the development of a National Khoisan Heritage Route in which Elands Bay is included. The design places the museum as a threshold between the natural- and man-made landscapes in Elands Bay. This allows the design to explore a connection between the building, the town, and the natural landscape. The building is located along the main road leading into the town to create a sense of arrival and place while a public park leading to the museum uplifts a dead zone along the road. The building form developed by framing views and extending the building into the landscape, ultimately forming a route linking the museum to the historic sites mentioned earlier. In doing so, the design considers what in-place architecture could be by incorporating culture and landscape.