Building Dreams with Art and Culture
In Cape Town’s suburb of Hout Bay stands a structural vision to integrate a passion for arts, culture, and community all inspired by the local significance of our country’s past. The Denis Goldberg House of Hope is a beacon of its namesake – the hope that activist Denis Goldberg wished to project through his life’s work. With the help of Noero Architects, this beacon shines brightly as a space which cultivates the dreams of future generations.
Denis Goldberg formed a trust whose aim was to use art, culture, and music to develop the marginalised youth of Hout Bay. To realise this dream, he resolved to build a centre called House of Hope. Funds were raised to support this dream, but Goldberg passed away before it could be realised. Fortunately, upon Goldberg’s wishes, Jo Noero of Noero Architects, who is married to Goldberg’s niece, was tasked to bring the dream to fruition.
The site that was provided by the Cape Regional Government for the new centre is part of a set of heritage buildings which accommodate the Hout Bay Museum, a hall, and a set of rooms used as classrooms. In addition, the site comprises a wonderful landscape worthy of preservation.
During apartheid, Denis Goldberg was sentenced along with Nelson Mandela and nine other activists to life imprisonment at the infamous Rivonia Trial in 1961. He was sent to Pretoria Central Prison where he was subjected to appalling conditions which included being held in solitary confinement for extended periods of time. Following his release from prison in 1985, Goldberg travelled to the United Kingdom where he worked as a fundraiser and representative for the African National Congress. In 2000, he returned to South Africa and worked as a political advisor to one of the ministers in the new government for three years before retiring to Cape Town in Hout Bay, where he became a local community activist. It is here that the conception of the House of Hope began.
The design intention was to create a campus of disparate spaces and buildings on the site and to integrate the House of Hope with the existing spaces both in terms of buildings and landscape. The new accommodation comprises an art gallery and museum, a classroom and activity space, and ancillary service spaces. These multi-purpose spaces come closest to realising Goldberg’s dream for the House of Hope. It is a place that can support a set of different activities simultaneously and comprises an exhibition area illustrating Goldberg’s life as an example for the youth of today on how to live a life in service to one’s community. The space also accommodates an exhibition of artworks collected by Goldberg during his life which powerfully illustrate his values and interests. These works will be curated under different themes and form the basis for art classes held for children from the local community.
Modest and using basic materials, these buildings maintain Goldberg’s idea that the facility should form an example for other groups who might wish to emulate the House of Hope. Alternative forms of energy and climate mitigation are also used, such as photovoltaic energy generation, water harvesting, and solar heating.
We believe that these spaces will offer a new way of thinking about how to integrate cultural, educational, and gallery spaces in the townships of the Western Cape. In addition to the main space, a set of smaller spaces will accommodate a curatorship program which will offer young people from the local community the opportunity to be trained as curators and to record their own lives by documenting local culture. In this way the House of Hope will become an important repository for the storage and documentation of local stories, memories, and histories which will provide a valuable resource for future generations.
Architects: Noero Architects
Photographer: Paris Brummer