Cape Town - The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) officially launched its memorial architectural design competition, to honour the several black and coloured South Africans who died during the First World War.
A memorial commissioned by the CWGC will be erected in the Company Gardens, Cape Town, commemorating the previously forgotten South Africans from various labour units, believed to be buried in South Africa and elsewhere on the African continent.
The competition officially opened on Thursday at the Cape Institute for Architecture, Hout Street, Cape Town, and will close on June 2, 2022.
The competition is open to all professional architects and professional architectural technologists registered with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP).
The CWGC honours the 1.7 million people who died in the armed forces of the British Empire during the First and Second World Wars, and began building cemeteries and memorials across the world in the wake of the First World War (1914–1918). CWGC now maintains sites at 23 000 locations in over 150 countries.
Through new research, the CWGC uncovered, in the South African archives, the names of over 1 600 black and coloured South Africans who served and died on African soil in the First World War.
“Today, we take a tangible step in honouring 1 600 South Africans who served in the military labour units and for far too long, have been overlooked. They were casualties, not just because of the conflict of the First World War, but of indifference to their service, suffering, and sacrifice,” CWGC’s director of external relations Liz Woodfield said.
“In bringing their names home, I sincerely hope that current and future generations of South Africans will visit the memorial once it is built. (I hope they) will, through their education and remembrance activities, add detail to the rich story of South Africa’s history, and depart the better for the experience of coming to know these men and honouring them.”
Lead CWGC project advisor and Meyer and Associates Architects and Urban Designers director, Tiaan Meyer, said: “This next step in the project will commence and set the tone to write the next important chapter of our history.”
CWGC media and PR executive Peter Francis said by September, CWGC aims to have an approved design, and will look to commence construction in 2023.
“The competition is designed to encourage the very best of South Africa’s architectural community to deliver a practical but innovative design for the new memorial that will both serve to honour these men in a manner befitting their sacrifice, but also add to the rich architectural heritage of the CWGC and South Africa,” Francis said.
“The final cost of the memorial will largely depend upon the solution chosen but the memorial will be built, paid for, and cared for by the CWGC in perpetuity,” he added.
Contestants will be notified of their successful registration and details of the brief will be ready for download by June 9, 2022, and the winning design announced on August 31, 2022.
To register to enter the competition, visit https://cwgcmemorialcompetition.co.za/