education. The heritage of the area should be managed in ways that are consistent with the integrity of the community, and with the emerging legislative frameworks for heritage and tourism management in South Africa. Significant elements of the monumentalised District Six landscape should be integrated into an interpretive strategy which retains the 'sense of place', an element which makes the area so vital in the memories and lives of people. The programmatic challenge is to enhance the remembered past by creating tangible forms of the spirit of the community so that when people return – either to live or to visit – they can experience elements of the profound history of District Six.
The concept of 'conservation' in the context of a destroyed urban landscape is an incongruous one. The Heritage Impact Assessment submitted prior to the redevelopment process points to the irony of such requirement: most of the area had been destroyed as part of the previous legislative actions, and"(u)nder these circumstances what is 'physical and material' is by a strange contradiction largely the 'intangible' – the empty remaining space and the memories that the people of Cape Town have of the former area." (Le Grange 2003: 4) Herein lies the challenge for the development of the Conservation Management Plan (CMP- required by the National Heritage Site declaration process): what are the salient elements of the District Six site through which issues of national significance might be interpreted, and how can this be translated into a plan which is manageable, and which is owned by those who people the site in many different ways: as returnees, new and old residents, ex-residents, first-time visitors, or the next generations affected by the forced removals?
The CMP makes the important point that history consists of more than what can be read through the built environment and officially documented history: peoples' experiences, and their memories and interpretations of having lived in and used certain spaces, are as important as the tangible fabric. Individuals and communities are shaped by places as well as their relationships and interactions within the spaces, and with each other. The challenge has been to consider how these intangible practices which contributed towards building the fabric of community, might be conserved.
The CMP acknowledges the layered significance of the District Six site - as a local site of forced removal in the heart of Cape Town and as a site of national significance that reflects the impact of forced removals throughout South Africa. The Museum services and engages with an active community of Capetonians who memorialise District Six in their own forms, practices and customs outside of the physical Museum structure and the conservation of the site is framed directly in relation to their input, participation and engagement with the site. There is therefore no uniform or singular perspective on the significance of specific sites and practices associated with District Six. Contestations and debate are often part of the process of remembering and will inform the management and conservation principles for the District Six cultural landscape.
The CMP is premised very strongly on the ‘sense of place’ as expressed by the District Six community, and in addition, gives prominent recognition to those places which no longer exist. Another irony of this process is that the antonymic concepts of conservation and destruction need to be held in tension: one of the layers of the story to be told through the implementation of the CMP is the story of the destruction of District Six. Associational values and the significance of processional, celebratory and other communal occasions which contributed to the community fabric are what form part of the conservation of the cultural landscape. The CMP was approved in September 2006, and the area was awarded provisional Grade 1 (national) heritage status at the same time. Final declaration is pending.