the st george’s cathedral complex: site of struggle, custodian of memory reimagining the missing piece of the puzzle

As time passes, memory evolves. If one thinks about a memory, it is unusual not to recall the place in which it happened. However, the place can be incidental or complimentary to the story. The St. George’s Cathedral is a place which holds much relevance in the memories of many. It is a prominent building located in Cape Town’s city centre. It tells the story of a place of worship conceived in the time of conquest and colonialism, forged by struggle, and come of age as a custodian of memory. Its history embodies hope and opportunity within our built landscapes. The constraints of the existing structures in the St George’s Cathedral complex offer a unique opportunity for repurposing the site by reimagining the missing pieces of the puzzle. An adaptive reuse design which speaks to the possibilities of a contemporary building sharing space with old historical buildings is explored.

The St George’s Cathedral Complex has been a work-in-progress since the first stone was laid. No one design plan prevailed for this site. It is now a merged plan, with different parts, designed by different architects from different generations, in different styles using different materials and construction methods. How does such a space, architecturally and in practice, transcend history and adapt to changing circumstances? Does it resist change, tolerate it, facilitate it, transform itself into an agent of change or simply allow itself to be appropriated.

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rachel myburgh