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Tuesday, 03 November 2015 14:18

South Africa's oldest building set for R84m make-over

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Cape Town - The 350-year-old Castle of Good Hope is receiving an R84 million makeover. The Department of Public Works, instructed by the Department of Defence has commissioned the project, as specialist architects and designers renovate the Castle of Good Hope.

The castle originally served as a replenishment station for ships passing through the dangerous coast of the Cape, between the Netherlands and Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). 

1652 – Original clay and timber Fort, Fort de Goede Hoop, built by Jan Van Riebeek upon his arrival in 1652.

1666 – The first stone of the Castle of Good Hope laid by Commander Zacharias Wagenaer. 

1679 - The pentagonal stone fortress completed. 

1969 - The Castle declared national monument

1995 – Military Museum opened. 

For the past half century, the Castle has housed paintings and artworks at the William Fehr Collection, some of which are great South African-related works. 

It's five iconic bastions (built for defensive fire in several directions) named Leerdam, Buuren, Katzenellenbogen, Nassau and Oranje will be refurbished, over the next 21 months. The Castle's seven buildings will also be repainted and re-carpeted. 

Murals will be refurbished and the Dolphin Pool will be re-plastered and renovated. 

Renowned Architect Dr Gabriel Fagan and wife Dr Gwen Fagan, have been involved in restorations since 1969, are the architects appointed for the project, since they have sound knowledge of the heritage and sensitive approach needed to preserve the original materials. 

Specialist Restorer, Jan Corewijn, has researched and restored original murals in the past, will be renovating murals in this restoration.  

Corewijn explains that at the time the murals and friezes painted on the walls, were painted over every five years to match Europe’s latest trends, resulting in layers of paint, which have since peeled and grown damp. 

"Scraping back the layers will expose timelines of decorating styles, including original murals and friezes that have been painted by hand," says Corewijn. 

Lady Anne Barnard, wife of Secretary of the Colony 1797, described her view from the castle as overlooking “a colonnade built around a spacious pond of water supplied from the head and tail of a spouting dolphin…”

The Dolphin pool, filled by the British in the 19th century as a parade ground was last excavated and renovated in the 1980’s. In the past 30 years, the bottom plaster of the walls have eroded and deteriorated. GVK-Siya Zama sees it necessary to repair this historical piece.  

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