04/05/2020

SOUTH END was the “District Six” of Port Elizabeth. It was a vibrant, diverse and integrated community with a sense of belonging. That was the way of life until the Group Areas Act of 1950 legislated the forced relocation of residents to various, racially segregated outlying areas of the city.

SOUTH END was the “District Six” of Port Elizabeth. It was a vibrant, diverse and integrated community with a sense of belonging. That was the way of life until the Group Areas Act of 1950 legislated the forced relocation of residents to various, racially segregated outlying areas of the city.

The forced removal of community members at that time ruined the social structure of South End and life as the residents knew it. The South End Museum importantly acknowledges and preserves the history, memories and legacies of the people of this community and their families.

To add to the existing material to preserve the area’s rich history, the Museum now boasts a scale model representing the diverse area as it existed before the forced removals.

This was made possible by a Nelson Mandela University Engagement Grant which Andrew Palframan, head of the architecture department at the university, applied for in conjunction with Michael Barry, the institution’s former director of Arts and Culture.

After liaising with the South End Museum Trust, the work for the model was carried out by a committed and enthusiastic team of students from the first year MArch (fourth year architecture) studio.

Palframan says the scale model idea was presented because there wasn’t an artefact that would present a tangible overview of the physical constitution of South End as it was before removals and because the physical structure of the place was fundamentally changed after removals.

“The scale model that was produced for the project encapsulates the full physical extents of South End and presents a physical concretisation of a place that, it is hoped, might enable individuals’ reflections while serving as a touchstone to future generations by providing a tangible and easily experienced point of reference.”

Palframan says the model was ready just in time for the opening of the new exhibition hall at the South End Museum at the end of January 2020.

The project that kicked off in March 2019 with the gathering of preparatory documents. Work on the physical model that started in October last year had each share of challenges.

“Source information was incomplete and sketchy and required a lot of work to synthesize, in order to produce the complete base maps that were eventually used for the model.”

According to him everyone who worked on the project was moved by the acknowledgement and appreciation shown by the museum administrators and South End community members at the opening of the new exhibition hall/

“It was also heartening to see the effect that the model had on people of the community who animatedly discussed particular memories while making pointed references to specific places on the model,” adds Palframan.