Shedding light on the Cradle of Humankind


Maropeng is a Setswana word meaning “returning to the place of origin” – and a very appropriate name for the world class visitor entertainment attraction designed to tell the story of the history of humankind through interactive and educational exhibits. Located in the Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng, South Africa the Maropeng Interpretation Centre is comprised of four distinct areas, all of which required specialist display lighting and a design brief that called for a dynamic and flexible lighting infrastructure.

Paul Pamboukian, leading lighting designer in conjunction with Fuse Design chose Selecon luminaires due to the extensive range of purpose designed fixtures at an affordable price knowing that he was also guaranteed that supply, installation and back-up service would be provided by an established and reputable company, Electrosonic SA – Selecon’s exclusive dealer in South Africa.

Upon arrival at Maropeng visitors enter an enormous atrium filled with natural light and the sound of thundering water, and walk down a ramp lit with blue fluorescents lining the walls where an Astral Zoomspot with gobo/gobo rotator and Aureol Beamshapers also fitted with gobos project onto the floor.

The expedition of discovery begins with a ‘boat ride’ through artificially created environments depicting the four natural elements of water, air, fire and earth where most of the lighting is long life (8,000hrs) metal halide discharge fixtures. Embarking in circular ‘boats’ visitors pass through a Water Tunnel which leads on to the Ice Scape featuring an enormous iceberg eerily lit with Astral Floods, WallWashers and Axial Zoomspots.

The boat then moves through to the Cloud Scape and Hurricane Area, drifting past a huge cyclorama which projects clouds moving across a blue sky. The clouds are created using animation wheels which have been adapted to fit Selecon Pacific Zoomspots.

The Fire Scape, an artificial grotto fitted with fire effect projectors, mist machines, underwater lights and heaters is followed by the Earth Scape. This is the final leg of the ride where clever lighting effects are used to simulate natural light emitted through cracks in the rock, and more Selecon profiles and washes are used to highlight various features of the cave.

Following disembarkation from the boat, visitors progress through a narrow passage filled with ultra violet light to the Birth of the Cradle. This circular area uses Astral Wallwashers for illumination and provides an audio visual depiction of how the earth was formed millions of years ago on a large video screen.

A short walk through a circular tunnel lit with Astral WallWashers ends in the Exhibition Space which is more than 100m long. Approximately 90x Selecon Astral and Compact Fresnels and 25x Astral Axials and Pacific Zoomspots were installed in this area designed to guide visitors along a time line following the evolution of man.

Parallel to the Exhibition Space is the Fast Track where time-pressed tourists view numerous displays and panels telling a similar story to that revealed in the Exhibition Space. Lighting these panels, as well as creating patterns on the Fast Track exhibits are 28x Pacific 90º Fixed Beam luminaires.

From start to finish the journey through the Maropeng Interpretation Centre is truly marvellous and Selecon, together with Electrosonic SA are extremely proud to be part of this unique evolutional experience.


Client Maropeng Interpretation Centre
Lead Lighting Designer Paul Pamboukian
Design Company Fuse Design
Selecon Dealer Electrosonic SA

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