This dissertation investigates the role of architecture in the conservation of intangible heritage with specific reference to the ‘Marabi’ culture, a vibrant township culture unique to Marabastad in the North West of Pretoria which played a formative role in the development of South African popular culture from as early as the 1930’s. Due to the relocation of its citizens, the demolition of the Royal Theatre (together with the decommissioning of the Empire and Orient theatres) and the increasing effects of global cultural homogenization Marabastad has become dislocated from its cultural heritage. The principle aim of the dissertation is to re-introduce aspects of Marabastad’s cultural heritage within it’s current context. The proposal intends to revive historical cultural practices by re-establishing the physical loci that once hosted them, which in the context of Marabastad, are the The Royal, Empire and Orient theatres. The proposed intervention focuses specifically on the site of the Royal Theatre which was demolished in 1967. The project aims to (re)introduce a multi-form theatre on the site which will once again facilitate the cultural practices unique to the Marabi culture. The architectural response is informed primarily by the following: 1. The historical function of the ‘Marabi’ theatre as a multi-use, adaptable space that had to accommodate a variety of functions such as town hall, cinema, school, church hall, events venue, dancehall and theatre. 2. An analysis of the existing historical built fabric of Marabastad (which reveals a complex layering of thresholds). 3. Programmatic requirements: Multi-form theatre with shebeen, informal restaurant, recording studio and artist accommodation. 4. Amalgamation of performance space with public space within a historical meaning framework. 5. Response to contextual conditions, both current and proposed in the 2002 Aziz Tayob Meyer Pienaar Integrated Spacial Design Framework.
Dissertation (MArch(Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2012.