TOPIC:  Wupperthal, an object of people and place


SPEAKER: Marike Franklin

DATE:  Tuesday, 15th August 2017
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

In an increasingly homogenised world, unique cultural landscapes form the basis for national identity. Wupperthal is a place that reflects an intimate relationship between man and nature and stands as an object within the landscape. It is one of the best-preserved mission stations in the Western Cape that still functions as an active community under the administration of the Church. To conserve Wupperthal as a cultural landscape, it needs to continue as a working mission station and adapt to changes associated with technology and development.

The approach was that the land ‘speaks its own language’ and would reveal possibilities rather than suffer under forced intentions. According to UNESCO, assessment criteria for cultural landscapes still need to be developed and tested, therefore a combination of methods was used. The main literature review was centered around ‘the value of the land’ that gives rise to a series of obligations. The obligations informed the design process while the fieldwork connected embedded narratives of land to physical links and requirements. The methodology include documentary, oral and physical mapping. Each mapped feature was tested for their significance per the value criteria that the authors developed based on the literature review.

Value in Wupperthal was found in the vulnerable, the unexpected and the coincidental. The functional needs of the town called for the preservation of the historic nodes and their amplification or framing.

In the in-between moments, the everyday life of the people of Wupperthal are celebrated and made tangible. This led to the exploration of new typologies for ablution structures and a rooibos drying platform. The proposal aims to balance sensitivity to the internal logic of the vernacular landscape with the boldness required to ensure the longevity of the town over time.

Marike Franklin
 Marike Franklin is a Candidate Landscape Architect (SACLAP). She completed her Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture in 2015 at the University of Pretoria. Her dissertation titled: Wupperthal, the Preservation of Absence, explored the challenges associated with development and conservation in the historic town of Wupperthal. She joined the CWPPA (Cape Winelands Professional Practices in Association) team in January 2017, where she is currently assisting in the compilation of a heritage inventory for the Stellenbosch Municipality.