Imagine Beullah’s Mophane Harvest shade along the A1 Highway

Not only will phane harvesters cash in the process but the installations will be an attractive tourist site


After winning two awards for her Old Palapye Museum Historic Building Preservation Design at the A’Design Award & Competition 2019 and at the Architecture, Building and Structure Design Category (2018-2019), Motswana architect Beullah Serema has released yet another award-winning architectural masterpiece.

Styled the Mophane Harvest Shade Installation, the interesting concept bagged the first award under the category of Pop-Ups and Temporary Structure at the Global Design & Architecture Design Awards 2019.

According to Serema, who works under the Atelier Noua Studio, the installation draws inspiration from the seasonal outbreaks of phane worms (Imbrasia belina), which is a source of food and income for people in the northern part of Botswana, as well as city dwellers. During the phane season, harvesters from across different villages set camps around the outbreak areas, which are normally along the A1 Highway that dissects eastern Botswana to easily sell their harvest to people traveling from Gaborone to Francistown and other places in the northern parts of the country.

“This has led to the transformation of the landscape and the environment where parts of the roadside are heavily articulated by floating umbrellas and makeshift shades for harvesting and mainly selling the products under the day sun,” reads Serema’s design concept.

In response to the need for proper shade, the architect designed a series of installations to be erected along the road while others will be located a distance away from the road where harvesting and selling is most concentrated. This means that parts of the road will be adorned with colours of the installation in response to the need of shade and shelter for the phane harvesters.

The installations will take the design and shape of the mophane tree leaves, which are shaped like a butterfly. Instead of using just the green colour, the designer has implemented some vibrant colours that look catchy and ‘cool’ for passersby picture moments. This was done intentionally to attract potential buyers for the product who might stop for a spot of rest or photo opportunities. The design series should also perform beyond its main function of creating shade for the hawkers.

“The intention is to tell the story of the existing environment and its relationship with the people. The series of installations create a free public space along the roadside for harvesters to freely sell their products under protected conditions from harsh weather,” Serema said.

The temporary installation will be used for the duration of the season of the phane worm to mark the bagging of the phane harvest. There are two seasons annually each lasting for an average of a month, depending on weather conditions.

Serema was awarded The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Scholarship by the Japanese Government in 2017 to pursue her PhD in Architecture at Tohoku University, Japan and her designs are concepts that could positively impact Batswana if they are implemented.