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World Heritage

National Archives, Timbuktu, Mali, North Africa

CLIENT: Office of the President
VALUE: R60 million
ROLE: Development, Project and Construction Managers

Target Projects was appointed to manage, design and construct a modern building in which to store the historical Timbuktu manuscripts, dating back to 1100. On a visit to Timbuktu, President Thabo Mbeki discovered that these valuable documents were being housed in mud houses.

These manuscripts represent Africa's contribution to medicine, literature and the arts and their preservation was key in this joint initiative by the South African and Malian governments.

The design of the building, while modern, had to blend in with the environment and preserve its historical status. Functionally, it had to create the right ambience, including the perfect humidity and temperature, for protecting the documents. In addition to this, provision needed to be made for library facilities for international scholars, including accommodation and administration amenities.

This ambitious task came with its own set of unique challenges such as scorching temperatures, cultural learnings and the lack of outlets to purchase conventional building material and tools. Target Projects adapted modern construction practices, sourced local materials within Mali and trained local artisans and contractors in modern construction techniques.

Target Projects completed this first NEPAD cultural project in record time and under very challenging conditions, by coordinating the efforts of South African and Malian teams.

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