Alte Feste gears up for a new look

USA finances the renovation of the historic building
U$250 000 has been donated for the renovation of the Alte Feste.
Jemimah Ndebele
The Alte Feste, the oldest building in Windhoek, is to undergo a major renovation.
This ambitious project, launched through a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture and the Namibia Craft Centre, on Wednesday received a grant of U$250 000 (around N$4.4m) from the United States Ambassador Cultural Preservation Fund (AFCP).
The historical significance of the Alte Feste, which dates back to its construction in 1890 by the German Schutztruppe, underlines the importance of preservation measures. While the function of the Alte Feste has changed over the last century - from housing soldiers to being used as an educational facility - it will now again play a central role in the local community and is intended to become a cultural centre.
"Once the renovation work is complete, the Alte Feste will be a diverse cultural centre, with a museum telling the history of the fort, a craft market, an art gallery, training workshops, art studios, a restaurant/café, a courtyard event space and offices," said Deputy Education Minister Faustina Caley, who officially launched the renovation project.
With the allocation of U$ 250,000 from the AFCP, the first phase of the renovation project will start, which focuses on the stabilisation of the building and its use for various activities.
Award-winning architect Jaco Wasserfall, who was entrusted with the architectural aspect of the project, provided insight into the design philosophy. “Repurposing is not a new concept and when we look at buildings that have been repurposed, it is never in a way of imitating older architectural styles, but rather in a way that combines the old with the new, and that is exactly what we will be doing , while maintaining the architectural integrity of the building," he said.
Namibia Craft Centre chairwoman Pamela Aupindi said the project and funding comes at a crucial time as Tal Street-based artisans must vacate their centre by May next year.
“The craft centre is also an old building and will also be put to new use next year. So our artisans need a new home and that will be the renovated and repurposed Alte Feste building which will be ready in April next year."
Aupindi added that the entire project will cost about N30 million.
"It is a lot of money to carry out the work, but given the enthusiasm with which we secured the support of the AFCP, we are confident," Aupindu said, before saying that she wants to organise an entrepreneur's breakfast in order to "sell the project and obtain further funds".