The red rock and glass construction of this African Museum feels almost Martian!

A combination of modern and traditional, of indigenous and industrial, the restoration of the Old Palapye Museum truly feels otherworldly. Set in the heritage site of Palapye in Botswana, the building’s setting is highly reminiscent of a Martian landscape, surrounded by red soil and rocks. Amidst this lie the ruins of a burnt brick church built in 1891, standing proudly within perimeters of a rich historic site of the 19th century capital of the Bangwato tribe. Still holding immense cultural relevance, the building’s restoration (and subsequent conversion into a museum) aims at bringing attention back to the rich traditions and the ways of the Bangwato people.

Beullah Serema’s design builds on the ruins of the Palapye church, supporting it, rather than replacing it. The stunning contrast between the burnt brick and the glass highlights the contrast between the old and the new, while giving equal emphasis to both. Plus, the combination of materials and styles almost makes me wonder if colonies on the red planet will echo a similar architectural aesthetic!

The Old Palapye Museum is a winner of the A’ Design Award for the year 2019.

Designer: Beullah Serema