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thando phenyane

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monument as palimpsest: re-thinking of the johannesburg art gallery as an archive of the city’s declared and undeclared memory

Architecture is generally regarded as a reflection of society and its general human condition. The opposite notion states that architecture is continuously constructing that very same society, for as long as buildings exist. These statements are most evident where the architecture of Monuments is a symbol of dominance and control. Within a new democratic South African society, it can be argued that monumental architecture has lost its relevance to society. These historical repositories exist as static objects that struggle to play a significant role in serving their immediate contexts. One such building is The Johannesburg Art Gallery.

Reinterpreting the notion of the Monument as being a Palimpsest and repository of ‘declared memory’ and ‘non-declared’ memory’ calls for architects to use Adaptive Re-use practices as a tool for disclosing accessibility to the public realm, intentionally fostering democratic, collective and interpersonal space within the contemporary urban landscapes such as Johannesburg through new thresholds and transient programmes for these existing static buildings.

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