Malapa protective structure opens

1 minute read

The Gauteng Tourism Authority has a nice article about the opening of the protective structure over the paleoanthropological site of Malapa: “Malapa Structure Launch at the Cradle of Humankind”.

Malapa protective structure
New structure protecting the Malapa site
The structure is a curved dome which is raised off the ground on eight legs giving it the nickname of “the beetle”. Each leg makes contact with the ground by four thin pins, giving it the minimal contact interface with the very sensitive caste system immediately below it. None of the legs is independently load bearing, meaning that any one of them may be removed and repositioned if such action is necessitated by subsequent palaeoanthropological excavations revealing that there is scientifically significant fossil material in close proximity to any one of the legs.
The roof of the dome appears to float above the the structure. It has an organic profile in plan based on the shape of the leaf of the White Stinkwood (Celtis africanus), the dominant tree at the site. The water from the roof is drained off into two excellently concealed tanks, which will supply adequate water for toilets, sanitation and sewage. There is also provision made for sourcing of additional water should it be required on the site.

What is most impressive about the structure is how completely it blends into its surroundings. A mere 200 meters away, it is barely visible. Those “beetle” legs are angled very much like the branches and trunks of the trees. Here’s one of my photos:

Malapa protective structure, from 200 m away
I walked 200 meters away to take this photo. Amazing how it blends into the landscape.

I’ve been out to the site many times and it is always a strikingly impressive trip. The Malapa Nature Reserve is a private reserve stocked with local endemic species and subspecies of antelopes, like blue wildebeest. The area is truly beautiful and reachable only with a four-wheel-drive vehicle, so this structure is part of a larger effort to develop a unique tourism capacity there.