National English Language Museum – Grahamstown

National English Literary Museum

The Green Building trend in SA is no longer reserved for buildings that serve a ‘commercial’ purpose, such as a retail centre, a commercial office block or a block of residential apartments. The Department of Arts and Culture is set to fund a new building to house the National English Literary Museum in Grahamstown.

The current museum was set up in 1972 as a collection of documents that has grown over the years into a national resource housing a significant amount of literary works that by 1980, the NELM was declared a cultural institution, governed by the Cultural Institutions Act 119 (1998).

According to the NELM, it’s primary function is “to collect and conserve material evidence pertaining to this literature, to publicise and popularise it, and to provide all sections of the reading public, both locally and abroad, with the means of access to it” and its mission is “to maintain and extend the nation’s leading collection of southern African English literary heritage and to serve as a source of expertise through exemplary research, conservation, exhibitions and public programmes”.

At last year’s COP17 in Durban, Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr. Paul Mashatile uncovered the plans of what is to be South Africa’s first Green Star rated museum. CIBA Consortium, the professional team in charge of the project, took advantage of the pilot release of the Public and Education Building rating tool by the Green Building Council of SA and registered the project accordingly. The project is aiming for a Four Star rating, with sustainable building consultant Marloes Reinink from Solid Green Consulting heading up the team responsible for the green design and Green Star submission to the Green Building Council of SA.

The new building will make up a total built area of approximately 5000m² on Worcester Street, just on the outskirts of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. Total project cost is approximately R115m, funded by the Department of Arts and Culture. Occupation of the new building is expected take place in July 2014 and will provide an ideal environment for the valuable museum collection of literary artefacts. The building will also have a large underground storage area, a multipurpose exhibition hall and visiting rooms for researchers.