panos nikolaidis design





Freedom Park, Pretoria, South Africa


International competition




The museum records not only the means of self or community expression but the way human beings liberated themselves. It acts as an awakening mechanism a constant reminder of the past. It is important for a nation to remember and learn from its past as information as knowledge is power.


At the base of the hill, a staircase axis, cuts across the Administration Building at its entrance level and continues up the hill meeting the entrance of the Museum. The staircase changes course and continues its upward movement, cuts through its various levels, passes outside the glazed exhibition spaces and reaches its final destination: the Memorial’s semi lit interior. The Memorial’s prism-like shell shoots twenty metres up forming a sharp point accentuating this grandiose movement giving the impression that staircase has pushed a large piece of rock out of the ground. A viewing platform half way up the Memorial’s cave-like interior marks the end of the staircase. Along its landings the names of apartheid victims are inscribed. These names are represented and brought to life, in the Memorial’s semi lit space. When the visitors approach the viewing platform, they are faced with a spectacular field of, bent from their own weight, long, hollow metal rods with little lights attached to one end, arranged at different heights giving the effect of a sky full of stars. The spirits of the victims live on forever.
Semi lit, almost dark spaces have magical, mystifying qualities. Darkness is not the simple absence of light: There is something positive about it. While light space is eliminated by the materiality of objects, darkness is ‘filled’, it touches the individual directly, envelops him, penetrates him.