Holocaust and Genocide Centre
Forest Town Johannesburg
and Genocide Centre
Lewis Levin architects
The ‘Centre of Memory and Dialogue’ is the first institution to bring together the stories of genocide across two continents, creating parallels between the narratives of Africa and Europe. It is a symbolic building that ‘beams with a veneration for life’. Light is applied as a material to enhance textural expression. ‘Light is reflection. It’s about a wall, it’s all about volume and surface’ decrees the architect. The carefully considered light is centrally controlled which meant no switches and plug points would be required in the walls. This allowed for uninterrupted clean spans of surface. Light thus mainly emanates from concealed sources, obscured by sleeves and containers in which they are deliberately positioned. The floor skirting strip for example becomes a feature that floats a wall. Handrails, based on the inner contour of the hand, are angled to take a strip LED that casts a determined beam over the treads. The dominating foyer wall ceiling is daylit through glass panels either side of the timber ceiling. The supporting I-beams are up lit with LED strip tucked into the corners and angled to give a soft glow.
‘The notion that you light a surface with the sun, with artificial light, is the same thing. You don’t think differently when you work with light.’