Eat, pray, live: re-imagining the Melrose Hindu Temple as a space for socio-cultural integration

Diar, Charvana
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This research report explores the possibility of creating a spiritual precinct within the northern suburbs of Johannesburg and is inextricably linked to the culture and heritage of the Hindu population. It seeks to challenge the historical typology of religious spaces and its interpreted apprehension towards becoming more socially and culturally inclusive. There can be little dispute about the damaging legacy of urban planning under Apartheid. Continued tensions between colonial structures of power, identity, and cultural knowledge also persist. As a result, the Melrose Temple in Abbotsford re - mains isolated in its contextual setting while exclusively serving the religio-cultural needs of the Hindu population. In this instance, increased cultural transformation and co-existing hybrid identifications are essential in creating conditions conducive to an integrative city. The overall proposal seeks to initiate conversation between its users by offering diverse programmes and activities that enhance self-transformation. These activ - ities include the shared ritual practices of eating, cooking and growing food within an oasis of serenity and natural beauty. In line with ritual practice and religion, the significance of water on the site becomes an interesting aspect to explore further. Contemporary South Africa requires the vicinity of the Melrose Temple to reimagine how it positions itself within the city and ensure relevance for a generation that is seeking a new identity and what it means to be South African, underscored by the notion that "Our diversity is our strength". Key themes such as cultural hybridity, identity, and spirituality form the conceptual framework of this report to develop an expression of this project through the built environment.
A research report submitted Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional),University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2021