West Coast Fossil Park

Name West Coast Fossil Park
Client West Coast Fossil Park Board of Trustees
Location Langebaanweg, Vredenburg
Status Built, 2016

The key design element was the site and the way in which the buildings would be placed on the site. The marks left on the site by the previous mining operations were the starting point. The original site was damaged by mining operations – at the same time, the use of modern mining technology was responsible for the uncovering of the fossil bed and its treasures. This duality formed the basis on which our design strategy was developed.

The buildings are dug into a prominent man-made mound which comprised clean mined material. Due to the slope of the mound, the back of the buildings are dug into the slope and the front extends out beyond the line of the slope. Buildings and walkways face onto the dig site to the west.

The buildings are layered horizontally and vertically to emphasize the cutting into the site similar to the mining operations. Over time, the buildings will melt into the site and the landscape will grow up and over the walls of the buildings – the sharp distinction between building and landscape will become blurred and the line of the joining will not be a thin line but a thick blurred line between landscape and building. Our objective is to make a set of buildings on a very precious site where the site and the buildings sit in co-existence and where neither one nor the other dominates.

This constitutes the contemporary project – a situation where nature and architecture sit in an oscillating relationship to one another in which neither dominates the other.