Rural community pavilion and shepherd school: investigating hybrid placemaking in the cultural landscape of Semonkong, Lesotho
Van Niekerk, Corne
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This dissertation is vested in certain phenomena that are unique to the country of Lesotho, its socio-economic problems, cultural context and the specific role-players that are affected by these circumstances. This paper first investigates the physical and abstract parameters of the Lesotho topography and how architectural hybridity can act as a model for change. A morphological exploration follows to test new ideas, as well as extend the accepted wisdoms of this specific group of people, in order to create sophisticated programme with simple and low impact technology. Relying on the reinterpretation of traditional and universal architectural typologies, this project is phenomenologically grounded in order to produce recognisable form that is both new and timeless. A rural community pavilion and school for the culturally marginalised is proposed for a site between Semonkong, a small town in the Lesotho highlands, and the village of Ha Lesala, ±4.55 km apart. A small shepherd night school is located on this site, currently functioning in isolation from the broader community. The community itself is without an existing community centre for adult education, childcare and basic services. The romantic/classical Lesotho landscape becomes a platform for expression in which the challenge is to actively engage with the cultural as well as physical phenomena in order to facilitate relational education. Mindful engagement with two marginalised groups: the shepherd boy and vulnerable women and children in Lesotho, questions known western institutional typologies and instead proposes one that promotes social integration and is informed by the user. Through this process architecture becomes the facilitator of expression by appointing itself as the intermediary; mediating between positions of presumed belonging and social abandonment.