The local community of Irene is very actively involved in the excellent preservation and maintenance of this site. It is probably the best kept example of all the Boer war cemeteries countywide. The 570 preserved and hand carved grave stones, are currently stored inside a container on site. The container is not weatherproof which is causing damage to these heritage relics from the past.
The stones were previously displayed on an open wall of remembrance. Being exposed to the elements, they were deteriorating and disappeared due to a lack of security. The wall has since been demolished. Recently a group of engineering students, as part of a community service project, did research on each stone and the family history of each deceased, some were babies as young as a few days. The stones were all numbered and catalogued and can be accessed on the website: www.ireneconcentrationcamp. co.za
The need for a proper museum to display the stones as well as a proper archive for the remaining stones has become a critical necessity. The design by NEO Architects completes the original masterplan at the existing memorial building with a proper building incorporating the following qualities:
· An architectural style to compliment the sarcophagi, head stones and the existing building.
· The proportions of the concrete walls simulate the grave stones with intermittent glass panels for natural light.
· A continues roof light along the length of the exhibition space allows for natural light and repeats the roof detail in the memorial building.
· Proper display of the best examples of the hand carved memorial stones
· Provision for interactive audio visual displays with access to videos, photographs, a detailed history, as well as a search option to enter the database.
·A foyer area where small tour groups can assemble for background information on the heritage and history of the Cemetery.
· An archive for the balance of the stones not on display.
· Proper access control.
· Solar power for lighting, equipment and HVAC.
· Planting on the roof will act as additional insulation as well as visually resemble the landscaping in a cemetery.
· A general store room for equipment for the community space.
· A platform that can act as a stage for community events.
· The ablution facilities in the existing memorial building would be sufficient for general visits to the cemetery and museum, whereas additional temporary toilets can be placed for community events on the public square.