Containing the Arts
The versatility and multi-functionality of shipping containers have been proven so many times by different projects; designed by a German architect, Nora Müller, the Gugu S’thebe Theatre is an example of projects that showcase the versatility of shipping containers. This project was developed under the auspices of the Cape Town Department of Arts and Culture, the architectural faculties of RWTH Aachen, PBSA Düsseldorf, Georgia Tech Atlanta, the University of Cape Town and the local community.
Situated in one of the oldest townships in Cape Town, Langa, the Gugu S’thebe Theatre was upgraded using recycled materials and local products. It is a double-story structure that was constructed using 11 shipping containers, recycled wooden crates, straw and clay; the purpose of the straw and clay is to regulate the temperature of the container, and the fruit crates were used to adorn the exterior of the structure. The shipping containers were stacked together to construct a formidable structure, the purpose of which is to preserve the cultural heritage of the Cape Town township, cultivate creativity and nurture the talents of residents participating in the arts.
In addition to providing a centre for arts and culture to be promoted and preserved in Langa, the construction of the Gugu S’thebe Theatre created job and skills transfer opportunities for local residents; this project was labour intensive, therefore it demanded a lot of hands.
The Gugu S’thebe Theatre is situated in the Langa Cultural Precinct; it has a large open space in the centre, with smaller rooms around; it has a recording studio and there are plans to add indoor and outdoor stages, and changing rooms. The Gugu S’thebe Theatre has the capacity to seat 200 individuals.