Gallery: Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre is a Fun Cluster of Earthy Do...

A sketch of the center showing the main spaces and the flow of visitor traffic.

Not only was the natural landscape of the mesa the inspiration for the design of the center, it was also the source of most of the construction materials. That probably explains why the structures look so authentic. The heavy vaulted ceilings of the domes contrast with the delicate walkways that meander through the center. Inside, the domes are daylit by a strong southern light that filter in through an opening in ceiling. Ponds in the area cool the air that naturally ventilates the buildings.

In addition to being made out of local materials, the center was constructed by unemployed local workers who were trained in the production of the stabilized earth tiles that were used to build it. These skills are now a part of the culture of the region, and the masons continue to use them and the leftover tiles for their houses in nearby villages. It’s pretty amazing when a cultural center can actually write a piece of the story of the people it celebrates.

+ Peter Rich Architects

Via World Buildings Directory


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  1. Trixie May 31, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    At last! Someone who understadns! Thanks for posting!

  2. trkdirect August 11, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    One name that should have been mentioned in this article is Guastavino. The Guastavino family of builders brought this technique from their native Spain to the US in the 19th century and built hundreds of structures. Read more about it in this upcoming book:

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