Magazine Hill: A Weathered Continuum, Perspective of Furnace Tower by Cliff Gouws
The proposed site is an isolated, historical military location in Pretoria called Magazine Hill (Magasynheuwel). From the 1890s to 1960, it was used for the production and storage of military ammunition. This was also the first site in South Africa where military industrialism was formalized for ammunition production, providing 45% of the ammunition used by Allied Forces in the Second World War (DENEL, 2011). This mysterious, abandoned site consists of two ammunition magazines, five bomb shelters and ammunition factories, all structures representing an era of unrest in South Africa. In 1945, an unexplained explosion of the Central Magazine scarred the face of Magazine Hill, driving the activities on the site to an early demise, trapping architecture in time and abandonment. There is an inherent tension locked within the site, hidden in mystery and untold stories. In the author’s opinion, the isolation of the site forms part of a negative mental construct relating to the site’s history – a will to forget the tragic past, as if the site doesn’t want to be found, remaining imprisoned in its own misery. A brass foundry is proposed, with the aim of recycling the spent ammunition shells of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), thereby introducing brass artists to Magazine Hill as a public interface. Where ammunition was once produced, it is now reduced. This programme forms a mediation between the public and the military, exposing different layers of the past by reinstating a connection between architecture and time.