Memorial pavilion for South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela by David Adjaye

David Adjaye creates simple memorial pavilion for South African trumpeter Bra Hugh

British-Ghanian architect David Adjaye has designed a simple concrete pavilion in Johannesburg as a memorial to trumpeter Hugh Masekela, widely known as Bra Hugh.

The memorial for the musician, who passed away last year aged 78, has been built at the Westpark Cemetery in the city.

Memorial pavilion for South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela by David Adjaye

Commissioned by the Masekela family, the Design Indaba Trust and the family of Nana Akufo-Addo – the President of Ghana – the pavilion was designed to be a place to reflect upon the life of the South African jazz musician.

Masekela was well-known for both writing anti-apartheid songs Soweto Blues and Bring Him Back Home, along with pop hits including Grazing in the Grass, which reached number one in the US charts.

Memorial pavilion for South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela by David Adjaye

"African monuments are a place of gathering and reflection, they help us edify the significance of our ancestors, our heritage and culture," said Adjaye, founder of Adjaye Associates.

"Monuments act as a reminder of our duty in the present to honour the past, they spur us to make a better future."

Memorial pavilion for South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela by David Adjaye

The simple pavilion is constructed from pre-cast concrete – five columns with different shaped profiles support a perforated roof, which is designed to mimic local flora.

Two square columns, one triangular and one shaped like a plus sign anchor the pavilion's corners. A central circular column that bulges in the middle represents the soul of the pavilion.

Five benches made from different types of granite represent parts of Africa where Masekela spent time during Apartheid, when he lived outside of South Africa.

The floor of the memorial is inscribed with a memorial passage of text written as a tribute from the Masekela family.

Memorial pavilion for South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela by David Adjaye

The memorial was designed in line with Adjaye's thinking on how people experience memorials, which was explored in his Making Memory exhibition at the Design Museum.

"My approach to designing monuments and memorials, what I provocatively termed Making Memory, for my exhibition at the Design Museum in London, is born of a desire to show that architecture like music and art, reflects our collective consciousness," Adjaye told Design Indaba.

"This pavilion or lekgotla designed for Bra Hugh is symbolic of his passion and desire to see us come together to advance African consciousness. To see us leverage our heritage and wisdom as cultural capital to the benefit of our people and communities."

Adjaye established Ajdaye Associates in 2000. His practice is working on several memorials including the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre outside Parliament in London, and a proposal for a Mass Extinction Memorial Observatory on England's south coast.

Photography is by Alexi Portokallis.

More images and plans

Plan
Roof plan