/ the team

Lauren Segal | Managing Partner

Lauren has an Honors degree in History and Education and a Masters degree in Film and Television. Over the past two decades, she has written several books, produced drama and factual television series and since 2002, has specialized in developing and curating a number of heritage sites, memorial projects and permanent and temporary exhibitions both in South Africa and Africa.

Lauren started her career at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, where she researched issues that affected South African society during the country’s transition to democracy. After completing an MA in London in educational film and television, Lauren worked for many years as a television producer at Ochre, a leading South African television company.

During 2001, Lauren applied her educational television skills to the bourgeoning world of heritage and museums. She managed the feasibility and business plan for Constitution Hill, Johannesburg’s most important heritage site that commemorates the oldest prison in Johannesburg and the home of the new Constitutional Court. Leading up to the opening of the site in March 2004, Lauren managed an interdisciplinary team that delivered the museum experience. Since 2005, Lauren has served as the director of the Constitution Hill Trust chaired by Cyril Ramaphosa.

In 2006, Lauren was a founding partner of Trace, a research, design and exhibition company. In her capacity as a director of Trace, Lauren has curated several high profile exhibitions: A Prisoner in the Garden for the Mandela Foundation which displayed Mandela’s prison archive for the first time; Gandhi for the City of Joburg which celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the passive resistance movement led by Gandhi; SiyaKhumbula for the Centre of the Study of Violence and Reconciliation which gave voice to the families of those who had disappeared in South Africa during apartheid. She was the director of a multi-media campaign to celebrate the 100th birthday anniversary of the Sunday Times newspaper.

Most recently, Lauren has been working on the development of a new permanent exhibition for the Gaborone National Museum as well as developing the content for the permanent exhibition on Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. In 2012, she joined the curatorial team of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre which will open its doors at the beginning of 2014.

Lauren has also consulted to heritage projects in Morocco, Lebanon and Kenya. She was recently appointed to the advisory committee for the development of The Maze/Long Kesh Prison in Northern Island that will be opened in 2015 as an international Peace Centre and Museum.

Lauren has also edited and co-written several books: Soweto: A History (published by Maskew Miller Longman, 1999); Number Four; the Making of Constitution Hill (published by Penguin, 2004); Mapping Memories (Published by David Krut Publishers, 2005); A Prisoner in the Garden (published by Penguin, 2005). She has recently co-authored a book entitled, Great Lives, Pivotal Moments as well as an accompanying six part book series for learners called Great People, Great Places (published by Jacana in 2008 and  2009).  She has just published a book on the history of the Constitution, One Law One Nation to celebrate the 15th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic Constitution. 

Clive van den Berg | Managing Partner

One of South Africa’s most renowned artists and curators, Clive van den Berg brings to Trace a wealth of experience in the art world and in the development of public projects. He has had several solo exhibitions at the Linda Goodman Gallery in South Africa, and his work is regularly exhibited abroad. He curated the Brett Kebble Art Awards, and is currently the curator of Spier Contemporary. His public projects have included the artworks for landmark Northern Cape Legislature and, since he has joined the Trace team, museum projects for the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Constitution Hill.

Clive has much experience working on large-scale institutional projects with teams representing diverse constituencies: urban planners and policy makers, architects, landscape designers, museum curators, historians, community liaison officials and representatives of local governments. In the Northern Cape, for example, where he worked with the Luis Ferreira da Silva architects, he pioneered a new strategy for integrating forms of the local landscape and indigenous aesthetics into the overall building design, while also training local artisans as part of a skills transference project aimed at long-term sustainability. The result is a world-renowned and uniquely South African state edifice: a monument to the people of the Northern Cape.

At Constitution Hill, his design ethos strove to fuse old materials with new curatorial strategies: to preserve individual and collective memory about the prisons and experiences that people had in them, while also educating future publics about the place of the prisons in South African history, and creating aesthetic forms appropriate to the institution.

In contemporary South Africa, much public institutional design is aimed at the cultivation of memory and the memorialization of the past. Van den Berg’s integrative approach to art, design and architectural construction has allowed him to produce spaces in which previously unheard or even suppressed narratives can be articulated and brought to new audiences. His design work on the exhibitions for the Mandela Foundation have been oriented toward this end as has his design for the permanent exhibition at //hapo, a major new museum space at Freedom Park, completed in 2013.  

BAFA, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg 1979

Nabeel Essa | Partner

Nabeel Essa is a registered architect with the South African Council of Architects and a member of the Gauteng Institute of Architects. He acts as an architectural consultant specializing in designing and developing museum, exhibition and cultural information projects.

Skills lie in combining spatial understanding with new ways of re-interpreting museums. Such conceptual ideas act as driving forces that continue to inform the design at its most detailed level. Experience ranges by playing different roles in the architectural process from brief formation to detailing and building supervision. The body of work is about constructing concepts. The practice involves specific integration with other diverse professions and the construction of ideas.

At Constitution Hill traditional notions of museum were questioned as the fragmentation between heritage and new developments led to a decentralized interpretive experience across the Hill. The scope of work included feasibility studies, interpretive experience, heritage policy, business planning, programming, exhibition strategy and supervision of the restoration.

At the Kliptown Museum the project began with developing strategies to integrate a community with its heritage, new developments and housing and its potential as a visitor destination, as a living ‘open’ museum. As the spatial consultant key issues involved the reuse of heritage buildings and the development of a framework armature that defines the urban precinct on multiple levels from heritage, exhibition, recreation and community. The constructed outcome was a heritage renovation and restoration of an old hardware store into a museum space that evokes the past and allows the present re-use.

Nabeel runs a theoretically driven contemporary design practice aware of its local context and ethics and in keeping with global ideas. The practice is also involved with the Limpopo Public Works department office project and private residential work such as House Goldblatts gallery additions and the upgrade of the Hillbrow Police Station Client Services Centre.

Nabeel has a Masters degree in landscape urbanism from the Architectural Association in London. The Masters involved the understanding of growth, evolution, change and scale in informing urban development and regeneration. The role of diagramming as a way of informing design allowed for new possibilities.

The thesis at Wits looked at critically engaging marginal histories; this spurred an interest in issues of identity and difference and its construction in post-apartheid South Africa.

Academic contribution has been made as an invited visiting juror at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, the University of Cape Town and Tec de Monterrey, Mexico City.

MA Landscape Urbanism, Architectural Association, London, 2000-01
Bachelor of Architecture (2 year degree), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 1998-99 (with distinction) 
Bachelor of Architectural Studies (4 year degree), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 1993-96 
Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts (years 1 & 2), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 1990-91


Hans Foster            Exhibition Design

Carina Comrie       Graphic Design

Jackie Downs        Administration and Research

Jenna Burchell      Project Management and Design

Eugene Marais      Architecture and Exhibition Design

Mark Gevisser       Writer and Curator

Sharon Cort           Writer and Researcher

Tel: +27 82 554 0747 (Lauren) / +27 82 335 4586 (Clive)