Memory and Time: A Thesis on Lephalale

Local citizen, Nico Janse van Rensburg, son of Marius & Linque Janse van Rensburg, is designing and writing his Architectural dissertation at the University of the Free-State on the events of his hometown, Lephalale. Marius is a co-worker at Exxaro Coal Mine and Linque is the Principal of Hansie & Grietjie Preschool. Together they have three children and Nico is their youngest, after Steyn and Suzette. Nico is also the first of his family to complete a qualification at University level.

Nico’s education started at Hansie & Grietjie Preschool, thereafter he joined the Laerskool Bosveld Primary family and finally matriculated from Ellisras High School in 2015. He then commenced with his journey in Tertiary education at the University of the Free-State in 2016.

He is passionate about leadership and community involvement and his list of achievements in Bloemfontein proves it:

2016: Rag subcommittee Member, designer of Mr. Environment UFS 2016’s outfit, participant of Mr. Environment for his residence, member of Stagedoor, a musical production, certificate in Student Leadership Development @UFS, H2H association member & architecture class-rep.

2017: Peer mentor at residence Villa Bravado, certificate in Student Leadership Development @ UFS, H2H association member, H2H Strategies and Values Executive Committee & Villa-Man of the Year. He was a committee member in every portfolio with biggest contributions in media & marketing, culture, rag and finance & breakages: strategies & vales subcommittee member, rag subcommittee member, academics subcommittee member , sport, health & wellness subcommittee member, social & diversity subcommittee member, culture & spirituality subcommittee member, secretary, media & marketing subcommittee member, finance & breakages subcommittee member, rag subcommittee Best Member of the Year & Culture Best Subcommittee Members of the Year .

2018: elected as residence council member secretary, media & marketing 2017/2018 at House Villa Bravado, Mr. Campus pageant Finalist, certificate in generic leadership training @ UFS, founder of Mr & Ms Bravado. Obtained Bachelor of Architecture Studiorum.

2019: elected as President of The Architecture department’s student body A5 (2018/2019). Mr. Vrystaat Art Festival pageant second runner up 2019, Mr. Vrystaat Arts Festival: Personality Award 2019, Mr. Central South Africa finalist 2019.

2020: A Step Tutor 2020, post graduate Student Council representative 2020, obtained Bachelor of Architecture Honours.

Nico completed both his bachelors and honours degrees in architecture during 2018 and 2020, at the University of the Free-State. He is now in the process of completing his master’s degree in architecture by the end of 2021.

The thesis proposal presents a possible site based commemorative building that aims to keep the memory and heritage of Ellisras, now Lephalale, alive. The thesis is based on the scattered historical graves and the history of the town. Lephalale is regressing since the two power stations have been constructed. Given Ellisras accommodates the world’s largest dry cooled power station, it is fundamental to keep its memory alive.

The site choice will be based where the people of the town can easily visit it, preferably along the town’s main axis, Nelson Mandela drive.

He requests your assistance in gathering as much information on the town, it’s history, culture and it’s people as soon as possible please! Also note that all information, photos and stories should be referenced. Therefore, please name the person who took the picture and the year thereof. Any information is good information; people often underestimate the small narratives, like that of planting a tree or finding love.
 Nico wishes to include your name in his book! Note, this book is an architectural dissertation which is to be submitted to the University of the Free-State’s library.

Please Email Nico at:

Nico’s motto is the words of his late grandfather and well-known town local, Hannes Steyn (Photo on Left):
“Woorde Wek, Maar Voorbeelde Strek” – Rooihans (1942-2012) Translation: Words teach, but examples reach.

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