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Shopping Centre
Elim, Limpopo

Type:Shopping Centre
1993SAIA Award of Merit


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23°09'25.97" S 30°03'24.89" E

At the time of the building’s conception and construction in the politically volatile 1970s and 80s it was inconceivable to the Apartheid regime that a black man could have the audacity to take the business initiative to finance a commercial venture, albeit in partnership with his people. Furthermore, locals were suspicious of any other black person displaying access to such an extensive financial resources (as he was assumed to have been either corrupt or in cahoots with the Apartheid regime or both).

The building typology follows the verandah walkway and parapet lean-to common in commercial buildings throughout Africa. The colour and decorative screens are informed by the local tribal dress and mural designs, changed through reinterpretation and vested with new symbolic meaning.

The tolerance and respect needed to overcome bureaucratic resistance and subsequently win the confidence of the community were invaluable lessons for a professional who needed to adapt to a new paradigm for working in a rapidly changing world.


• National Award of Merit, 1998; South African Institute of Architects

[Source: Peter Rich Architects]

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.