Developing a dream
This is what Joe van Rooyen (JVR Architects), Peter Rich (Peter Rich Architects) and Fanuel Motsepe (Motsepe Architects) came up with.
Joe van Rooyen:
The corner is one of the busiest intersections in Johannesburg. Yet it communicates little, having at present a sex shop, a tyre fitment centre and a printer shop. It fails to encourage its’ activity into a comprehensible/ stimulating spatial structure.
It has a “no-mans land” quality and possibly evokes a negative response from users, pedestrians and commuters. There is a lot happening and nothing happening at the same time. Our concept is to create a landmark for the city of Johannesburg and at the same time to support the notion of the already existing Art District, but in the process solidify and structure it, and add to this.
South African photography exemplifies the grit and depth of Johannesburg. Photography, in many cases, is more accessible and has the potential power to engage Joburg public to art. Our proposal focuses on contemporary South African photography and establishing it as part of the Art District.
We would like to create a series of buildings that house different but complimentary functions: a school for photography, gallery spaces for photographers and students, a photography archive, book shops and then repositioning all the existing galleries. Local corporates and businesses would be lured to relaxing coffee shops and restaurants, after-work drinks at the cocktail bar, creating a necessary local hub for socialising and at the same time encouraging interaction with the galleries and possibly artists.
The main gallery on the top floor would use technology to project images of current exhibitions on the double storey glass façade. This would transform the introspective nature of current gallery spaces and expose the exhibition to passersby that normally would never be exposed to photography.
A major element of the development is the four-storey high vertical garden on Jan Smuts that adds desperately needed greenery and tranquillity to the street block and act as a sunscreen on west façade for the office spaces behind it. We need to get our cities greener and more self-sustainable. Grey water from the building can be used to irrigate the garden and hopefully encourage more developers to consider our future environment.
On street /gallery level the steel I-beams and glass shop fronts simplify the current fragmented street façade.
The school for photography is housed on Bompas as a more introspective space compared to the more transparent public Jan Smuts façade. An array of cubes protrudes the façade and becomes a sculpture in itself. The roof is utilised as a cafeteria with dramatic views to the north.
The corner of the building on street level is a solid pink cube that acts as a distinct landmark and indicates the main entrance to the building. A set of floating concrete roof slabs acknowledges and accentuates this busy intersection. The round sculptural cut-outs converge and project the ever-changing light and shadow into a daily simplified rhythm; the building smoothing the frenzy of the intersection.
The City of Joburg does not need yet another office development, it needs spaces that are available to find their own purpose.
This plan proposes a majestically vaulted space, flooded by light through its cracks and openings, that titillate a desire in passersby to discover it. Everything about the design points of an unpredictable and internalised ‘back word’ or style, excitement and flair.
The space joins the existing residential complex to the eclectic mix of fine art dealers and, most importantly, it creates some drama and mystery in the City’s landscape to capture peoples’ imagination.
Once the space is created, it will find its own way. The size and volume mean that it will be perfect for events such as exhibitions and launches. There is also room for cafes, books stores and night clubs
There is a critical need for lower Rosebank to find a new purpose and what better way than with a design and openly embraces mixed use. By adding a multi-level car park the space would be better contained and managed for cars and encourages use as an event space.
The dramatic vaults span its roof to the roofs of adjacent buildings, opening the space up to be whatever users wish it to be, so the space is not exclusive to the use of any one group. Required amenities for the community such as clinics can grow within the space, a space which will interact with and embrace the existing life there.
This terraced structure, recessed from the busy corner, was designed with a view to balancing the urbanscape of this particular intersection.
On the opposite corner is the green corner where the Keith Kirsten nursery currently stands. The other two corners are built right up to the pavement. At the top of Jan Smuts is a building that is heavy on top and is built ‘outwards’. Our building balances the landscape by being heavier at the bottom.
The corner presently has a pretty skanky pavement and with the heavy traffic is a life-threatening thoroughfare for pedestrians. Our building will be recessed to offer public space at ground level, withe treed courtyard and space for coffee shops and retail outlets, creating an area where pedestrians can converge and disperse safely.
With the pavilion style we have tried to maximise natural lighting and ventilation. The terraces, with curtain walls recessed five meters, cast enough shadow for natural temperature control. The building is populated with trees and shrubs, with space for a massive tree in the central turret.
The design is an interpretation of the unique aspects of rondavel architecture. I’ve been working on a contemporary version of this for a decade. In a classic rondavel, you first build a roof on a set of posts and inside the posts you build the walls. The walls don’t touch the roof, for natural ventilation.
In the same style, the Rosebank building is supported by posts, which we have angled for a more modern feel. The interior walls are made of timber, rather than dry walling, and they don’t reach to the ceiling, except in places like changing rooms.
The key elements are glazed exterior walls, wide concrete columns clad in stone, timber internal walls and steel railings.