2013 marked the fifty years anniversary of the Treason Trials at the Old Synagogue, in Pretoria, South Africa. The trial was a symbolic victory for the Liberation Movement in their fight against an oppressive apartheid regime. Today, with freedom a reality, Liberation Struggle Heritage Sites have surfaced throughout the country with the purpose of commemorating the multitude of events which occurred on the path to liberation. The purpose of this research is to generate a contextual response to the challenge of commemorating and rejuvenating the currently abandoned Old Synagogue. This study investigates the manner in which Liberation Struggle Heritage Sites are being commemorated. The results will assist heritage practitioners to ascertain whether the current trends in the application of heritage conservation and commemoration strategies make meaningful contributions towards local communities. An empirical research method of visiting Liberation Struggle Heritage Sites in Gauteng was conducted as a means of primary data collection. The findings indicate that these sites display weak accessibility traits, and do not engage with their surrounding context in manner which stimulates socio-economic and political growth. The design project aims to initiate programme as a means of commemorating and rejuvenating the Old Synagogue in a contextually appropriate manner. The prerequisites are that the programme should respect, liberate, and celebrate the history and heritage of the Old Synagogue together with the surrounding buildings of heritage value. The design proposal is a Heritage and Mediation Centre geared towards public utility as a place to gather, learn, and retreat within Pretoria’s historic inner city.
Dissertation MArch(Prof)--University of Pretoria, 2013