Northern Cape: Wonderwerk Cave walkway project

July 26, 2017  — 

Entries to the inaugural 2017 Africa Architecture Awards are open and the Northern Cape’s Wonderwerk Cave walkway project is right up there competing with the best architectural designs on the continent.

Following a short-listing process, the award ceremony will take place on 28 September 2017 in Cape Town.

The walkway was constructed in Wonderwerk Cave, an archaeological treasure that preserves a record of human activity spanning almost two million years. The large cave extends 140m horizontally into the base of the Kuruman Hills, estimated to be more than two billion years old.

The walkway project, which was entered by its architect, Craig McClenaghan, allows researchers and visitors to explore the cave on a safe structure. 

Pathway through time.

Pathway through time.  (Image: Craig McClenaghan Architecture)

"Flanked by archaeological excavations, the walkway unfolds as a prefabricated kit of parts, assembled in situ,” the Wonderwerk Cave award entry reads.

“With no ground anchors, the structure relies on self-weight for stability and interconnectedness for strength. It can be entirely dismantled into components small enough to carry, and it can be removed to leave no trace.

"The impermanence of the structure is deliberate and suggests another transient layer within this place where the architecture of the earth itself is in a constant state of flux. In some instances, it could be argued that archaeology and architecture pursue opposing agendas. But here, in the path of an ancient dialogue between water and rock, humankind and earth, we discovered that our interests are perhaps not all that dissimilar in the quest to make sense of ourselves in this ancient landscape we call home.”