The Open House in Cape Town
What is Open House?
Located on the corner of Long and Dorp streets in Cape Town, Open House is open to all citizens to make use of. The public art piece which stands 10.5 metres tall is painted bright red and is hard to miss.
It celebrates our democracy and is a tribute to the men and women who fought for freedom, dignity and a better South Africa. The outdoor structure designed by Jacques Coetzer was the winning concept in the Western Cape Government’s Public Art Competition last year.
The competition was started in celebration of 20 years of democracy as well as Cape Town being the 2014 Design Capital. The Open House is the third public art project supported by the Western Cape Government since 1994. One other art project includes the Gugulethu 7 memorial.
Bringing our communities together
The initiative was also aimed at promoting social inclusion, as the winning structure needed to be accessible to everyone. All designs were required to have the World Design Capital theme, “Live Design, Transform Life" and the 20 Years of Freedom and Democracy themes incorporated in the design.
Hannetjie Du Preez, acting head of department for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, and South African columnist, author and documentary filmmaker, Max Du Preez, were among the guests at the launch recently.
Hannetjie said public art can express community values, enhance an environment, transform a landscape, and heighten awareness or question assumptions. “Public art is a reflection of how we see the world and is the artist’s response to our time and place combined with our sense of who we are.”
She said the name “Open House” serves to act as a platform for talks, addresses, performances and other creative expressions.
Its symbolic significance dates back to more than 2000 years ago, when the San and the Khoikhoi first arrived in Cape Town with their cattle and sheep. In his speech, Max said the house represents the struggles of freedom fighters from different cultural groups that were treated with disrespect and were pushed off land which they occupied for many years. He added that different groups walked on the soil right beneath the Open House. “When we sing about our democracy and freedom here at the Open House today, we do it as people in whose veins the blood of slaves and Khoisan flow.”
He said liberation fighters would be “very proud” that we have overcome colonialism, minority domination, established an open society and created the progressive democracy we have today. “They would have reminded us that we still have a lot of work to do,” he added.
Envisioned to be a symbol of democracy, it embodies shelter and ideas and is set to encourage dialogue and interaction between people of all walks of life. The red house is open to all; whether you’d like to host a poetry session, remember fallen heroes of the struggle or enjoy your lunch at a unique location.
Find it here.