New look for Alte Feste

The Alte Fest in Windhoek has been unused for years, but now things are about to change. The historical landmark is being renovated in phases and is to be rededicated as the city's cultural centre. The ideas and suggestions are gradually taking shape.
Otis Steinbach
Despite its current sorry condition, the Alte Feste is still visited by tourists and locals, largely due to its importance for the cultural and historical heritage of Windhoek. The importance of the old fort has also been recognised by the government, which recently hosted a business breakfast in collaboration with the Namibia Craft Centre to brief civil society representatives on its plans for the upcoming renovation and repurposing of the building.
The go-ahead for this ambitious project was given last month when the US Embassy granted U$250000 for the project.
During her opening remarks, the art director of the Ministry of Culture and Education, M'kariko Amagulu, emphasised the support that the project enjoys among the population. The renovation will benefit “all Namibians, white and black”.
Thereafter, the architects Jens Wiedow and Jaco Wasserfall gave a brief overview of the history of the Alte Feste and the specific suggestions for changes and expansions that are to be implemented in the next few years. Wasserfall previously mentioned the problem of the lack of space, which imposed strict limitations on the project. “The building looks deceptively large, but is actually small,” Wasserfall said. "That's why an expansion is planned, among other things, on the east (i.e. back) side of the old fort. In the future, a small hall will house a new “genocide museum”.
The architect emphasised that no part of the old fort would be destroyed or fundamentally changed.
“First, do not demolish!” – this is the basic principle that he is following for this project.
The northeast tower allows visitors a view of the site of the former German prisoner-of-war camp, where another memorial is to be built in the future. The Alte Feste will also have a restaurant, a bistro and a second entrance for staff. The inner courtyard could be used for a variety of events.
Wasserfall proposed a partial roof with solar panels.
Above all, the Alte Feste will serve as a new location for the Namibia Craft Centre's handicraft market, which will soon leave its current home in Windhoek and move there. This will allow artists and craftsmen to expand their businesses, Pamela Aupindi, chairperson of the Namibia Craft Centre, said.
The first phase of the renovation is scheduled to be completed by May 2025, for which N$4 million is currently available. The financial requirement for the entire project was estimated at around N$50 million.