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  1. ArchDaily
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  3. Visitor Center
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  5. Peter Rich Architects
  6. Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects

  • 01:00 - 21 April, 2010
Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects
Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects, ©  Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

©  Iwan Baan ©  Iwan Baan ©  Iwan Baan ©  Iwan Baan +12

From the architect. Last year, architectural photographer Iwan Baan took a trip to South Africa to visit the Mapungubwe Interpretation Center designed by Peter Rich Architects.

©  Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

Mapungubwe, located on South Africa's northern border with Botswana and Zimbabwe, prospered between 1200 and 1300 AD by being one of the first places that produced gold, but after its fall it remained uninhabited for over 700 years, until it's discovery in 1933. The society living in what today is Unesco World Heritage Site, is thought to have been the most complex in the region, implementing the first class-based social system in southern Africa. And besides the cultural heritage, Mapungubwe is also home to an immensely rich flora and fauna, including over 1000 years old Baobab trees and a big variety of animal life, including elephant, giraffe, white rhino, antelopes and 400 bird species.

©  Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

In this surreal setting Peter Rich has designed a 1,500 sqm visitor's center which includes spaces to tell the stories of the place and house artifacts, along with tourist facilities and SANParks offices. The complex is a collection of stone cladded vaults balancing on the sloped site, against the backdrop of Sandstone formations and mopane woodlands.

©  Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

The vaults have been designed in collaboration with John Ochsendorf from MIT and Michael Ramage, Univ. of Cambridge, using a 600 years old construction system to achieve a low economical and environmental impact. The traditional timbrel vaulting, using locally made pressed soil cement tiles, allows the design to be materialized with minimal formwork and no steel reinforcement. In addition, the ambition was to also integrate local unskilled labor into a poverty relief program by training them to produce the over 200,000 tiles necessary in the construction of the domes.

©  Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

The Mapungubwe Interpretive Center was realized using latest developments in structural geometry along with an ancient construction technique, in order to implement a contemporary design, meant to house hundreds of years old artifacts.

©  Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects" 21 Apr 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/57106/mapungubwe-interpretation-centre-peter-rich-architects/>
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51 Comments

Vicky Masuku · December 03, 2015

Thank you Peter Rich for your ever inspiring work!

El semillero urbano · September 04, 2012

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects http://t.co/RS2DlTFx

Charlie Whitaker · September 01, 2012

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre http://t.co/z6DsvdMv

abe · September 01, 2012
Barby Omodei · September 01, 2012

Hermosa #Arquitectura de piedra..Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre http://t.co/FBVJkKUw vía @archdaily

Carmen Frances · September 01, 2012

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/OHX6gRtB vía @archdaily

Max Well · September 01, 2012

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/vwfKXbn4

Marcos · September 01, 2012

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/tMkkGgmI vía @archdaily

PIA Architects · July 10, 2012

Mapungubwe Centre in South Africa by Architect Peter Rich. Read more:
http://t.co/NnWWisxQ

Esma Neda Ya?mur · July 03, 2012

just love it!! Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/e5Bo7YR9 via @archdaily

archi_glog · June 18, 2012

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/d1zTeK7d @archdaily????

DoorandWindowParts · June 17, 2012

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre by Peter Rich Architects in South Africa--we can&#39t get over the vaulted ceilings! http://t.co/9iocPeAx

whys · June 16, 2012

Beautiful project in South Africa. Read More: http://t.co/t1Llc0zl — Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects (4 photos)

whys · June 15, 2012

Beautiful project in South Africa. Read More: http://t.co/t1Llc0zl — Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects (4 photos)

Tiz Dorigo · June 15, 2012

Natural materials instead of #glass and #steel, I am all in favour! http://t.co/zm27Ta1R

Lynn101 · June 15, 2012

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/X1H3homH via @archdaily

Vassilis Papakon/nou · June 15, 2012

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/eCag24ui via @archdaily

shelbell · June 15, 2012

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/lt4fEXtM via @archdaily

Kutlwano Parkinson · June 15, 2012

ArchDaily wrote: Beautiful project in South Africa. Read More: http://t.co/G9RnyCqY

Josh · June 15, 2012

THIS is beautiful architecture:: http://t.co/2TNopDW9

Josephine Jost · June 15, 2012

Beautiful project in South Africa - Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/G43oKkDW via @archdaily

najmeh · June 15, 2012

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/B1SYUU1q via @archdaily #DOPE #SICK

Jorginho FSantos · June 15, 2012

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/SgLBw5Xr via @archdaily

Talotarinat · May 29, 2012

Vaikuttavaa tiiliarkkitehtuuria Etelä-Afrikassa, kansainvälisen tiiliarkkitehtuurikilpailun voittaja. Kyseessä on... http://t.co/FFv5Cyqi

Jordi Noguera · May 11, 2012

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/e2MRvamZ vía @archdaily

Sanele Khubone · April 20, 2012

I wish to know more about the Mapungubwe interpretation centre.

Geoff Simpson · June 19, 2010

Here&#39s http://ow.ly/1Zcc3 a unique piece of architecture from South Africa - I like the natural feel to its forms and construction!

Marko Todorov · May 20, 2010

Reading: "Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily"( http://twitthis.com/xpfh4i )

Fabitto · May 05, 2010

"Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects | ArchDaily"( http://twitthis.com/xpfh4i )

jay · April 27, 2010

I love this project.I would love to go to see this

ROHINI · April 26, 2010

[G-Reader] Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects http://bit.ly/b3tTAJ

Donald Takura Changwa · April 25, 2010

Worked on this building in early design stages, Peter is a great mentor and teacher.

jdcarling · April 23, 2010

I'll join in the accord ... Awesome

architetende · April 23, 2010

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects http://bit.ly/bFHsE1

The Big Black &amp; White Zebr · April 23, 2010

Fabulous contextualism... truly built from the ground it sits on - I would really like to see images whilst the domes were being constructed. Reminds me of boveda ceilings in southern Spain... without formwork - interesting.

Karin Watson · April 23, 2010

My environ students: check out Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre by Peter Rick Archts http://bit.ly/dbEhtK #design #architecture

cortebrezo · April 23, 2010

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects http://j.mp/aWERs9

Home Decor News · April 22, 2010

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects http://bit.ly/9eX4ay #architecture

that's what she · April 22, 2010

this is...how coul i say this?...AWESOME!

Richard Moss · April 22, 2010

Some stunning images, They really do the project justice. Brilliant project!

Architecture News · April 22, 2010

RT @archdaily: Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects http://archdai.ly/aLj2FT

Helen · April 22, 2010

http://www.worldbuildingsdirec...

Go there to see more photos and drawings of this wonderful project.

dariusz · April 22, 2010

fanastic.. something new, gorgeous work

Robin Brittain · April 22, 2010

Mapungubwe Interpretation Center, S.Africa designed by Peter Rich Architects, using locally processed materials http://bit.ly/9pnk3P

Stefania · April 22, 2010

I love this project. There's a strict relationship with the environment around it. It seems it comes from nature. Great job.

António · November 03, 2010 06:35 AM

It's very organic!
The vaults and the project itself reminds me some works of Antoní Gaudi or other comteporary Cathalan's Architects.
Gaudí has a Church in the middle of a Forest that you only notice once you are already inside of it.
I like the project - really interesting.

David · April 22, 2010

Some drawings would be great. I know Peter does beautiful drawings. Exceptional project.

Jim Dodson · April 22, 2010

It should be noted that this project won the overall prize at the 2009 World Architecture Festival. A worthy winner, and impressive project. Congrats again.

lidoro mwirotsi · April 22, 2010

proud to have actually been taught by peter rich himself, one of the shining lights of african architecture

JOE · April 22, 2010

so refreshing. the sense belonging of the place, sustainability are well captured. Great great job.

Helen · April 22, 2010

What a breath of fresh air. Love it love it love it.

ryan · April 22, 2010

kind of weird. but really great. especially in context. love the vaulted ceilings makes me think if dieste or lewerentz

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