New Visitor Information Centre for Mamre Ready by End of 2010 | Western Cape Government


New Visitor Information Centre for Mamre Ready by End of 2010

8 September 2010

The village of Mamre is set to have a much-needed Visitor Information Centre by the end of this year.

In September 2007, the City's Heritage Resources Section embarked on an initiative to build a traditional structure in Mamre in a bid to rekindle traditional construction skills and create employment opportunities for the local community.

After an extensive public participation process and design workshops to establish the needs and desires of the local community, a new Visitor Information Centre was identified as an ideal project to boost tourism interest in the area.

Three years on, and under the supervision of architect Andy Horn from Eco Design Architects, construction is now well under way to realise this project.

The intention behind the project is to train the local community in traditional building methods and this formed an integral part of the tendering process. The main contractor, C van Reenen Contractors, has subcontracted local builders with the relevant skills to train local community members of Mamre in brick making, thatch cutting and moon phase pole harvesting, ultimately providing them with employment for the duration of the contract.

Moon phase pole harvesting is a traditional technique whereby trees (in this case poplar trees) are harvested during the new moon. It is believed that at this time the sap in the wood is at its lowest quantity, which prevents insects from attacking the timber. This means that the timber does not have to be treated with an insecticide as would be standard building practice for external timber poles. The process is also said to assist in preventing the timber from cracking or warping over time.

Trainees will also receive certificates outlining the relevant skills learned so that they can further their training and use their skills on other projects.

The project has made use of only locally sourced materials and the building has been designed according to sustainable eco-friendly principles. The granite for the plinth was quarried locally and the clay bricks were manufactured in Mamre last year by members of the community. This was part of a training programme run by the City of Cape Town and Eco Design Architects, and formed the initial phase of the project.

Many of the village's historical buildings are fast being lost due to a lack of skills in traditional methods, for example thatching, to maintain and repair buildings. It is envisaged that the trainees will be empowered to use their new skills on these and other projects in the future.

Progress on site is currently at window level and the building is due for completion towards the end of this year. The Visitor Information Centre will include an exhibition on Mamre's history and the Moravian Church Werf. It will also offer tourists information on scenic walks, picnic spots and the annual flower festival, which takes place this year from 17-19 September.

Issued by:
Communication Department
City of Cape Town

Media Enquiries: 

Margot Van Heerden
Project Manager
Environmental and Heritage Resource Management
Environmental Resource Management Department
City Of Cape Town
Tel: 021 400 6454

Sjanel Buchel
Project Manager
Environmental and Heritage Resource Management
Environmental Resource, Management Department
Tel: 021 550 7564