A pavilion for Johannesburg

D_ZA Presents Adjaye’s First Project in South Africa.


DESIGNING_SOUTHAFRICA (D_ZA) in collaboration with the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and the Mayor of Johannesburg are proud to announce the construction of an urban pavilion designed by world-renowned architect David Adjaye OBE. To be constructed in a public space within the Park Station Precinct in Johannesburg’s inner city, the project will highlight this historical junction in the city, while activating underutilised public space using innovative design.

Initiated and managed by DESIGNING_SOUTHAFRICA, the exciting project is the next major local and international collaboration for the organisation. Zahira Asmal, founder and director of D_ZA, inspired by the anniversary of South Africa’s democracy, saw 2014 as an opportune time to invite global collaboration in creating new South African spaces. Asmal has identified the need to reconceptualise the role of public space in the city through sound architecture and design. Her long-standing working relationship with David Adjaye combined with his immense knowledge of African spaces, histories and challenges meant that there was no contest in Asmal’s mind as to who was best to lead the design on this project. Through D_ZA’s experience of working with the JDA, and with support from Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau and the Passenger Rail Association of South Africa (PRASA), the city has become an essential partner in realising the pavilion.

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“Urban change is the inspiration of architecture” - David Adjaye

David Adjaye OBE is recognized as a leading architect of his generation. Adjaye was born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents and his influences range from contemporary art, music and science to African art forms and the civic life of cities. In 1994 he set up his first office, where his ingenious use of materials and his sculptural ability established him as an architect with an artist’s sensibility and vision.

He reformed his studio as Adjaye Associates in 2000 and immediately won several prestigious commissions. In Oslo he designed the Nobel Peace Centre in the shell of a disused railway station (completed in 2005). In London his design for the Whitechapel Idea Store pioneered a new approach to the provision of information services (2005). Later projects in London included the Stephen Lawrence Centre, with teaching and community spaces (2007), Rivington Place, an exhibition venue and resource centre (2007), and the Bernie Grant Centre for the performing arts (2007).

Adjaye Associates now has offices in London, Berlin, New York, Accra and Shanghai and is working on throughout the world. In the United States Adjaye was the designer of a new home for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver (2007), two public libraries in Washington DC (2012), as well as of several innovative residential projects. In 2009 a team led by Adjaye was selected to design the new $360 million Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington DC. Adjaye Associates’ largest completed project to date is the £160 million Moscow School of Management Skolkovo (2010).


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Park Station is inner city Johannesburg’s major transport hub – the largest transport node in Africa / southern Africa. The site of the station has been an essential nexus point in the city since train tracks were first laid on the Witwatersrand, connecting disparate mining towns along the reef. It has grown with Johannesburg, reflecting political ideologies; ‘modern’ transport trends and new spatial configurations. Today the large Park Station complex blurs into the surrounding city, its edges redefined by street traders, formal retail extensions and movements of crowds. Rea Vaya, Gautrain, regional and international bus services, local and inter-city train services, taxis and pedestrians converge here, stimulating the inner city. Park Station is, and always has been, inner city Johannesburg’s arrival and departure point, the first and last experience of the city for many visitors.

It is estimated that about 1 million people pass through the Park Station Precinct every weekday, and millions of Rands change hands each day through small retail transactions and cross-border trade. Park Station Precinct is busy, congested and noisy. In many ways it is the bustling centre of a thriving but largely unregulated economic network that spans most of the continent.

In recent years the City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Province have made big investments in mass public transit infrastructure and services that further support Park Station Precinct’s role as the primary transit hub. The Gautrain connects the inner city with Rosebank, Sandton, Midrand, Pretoria and the airport; Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit connects the inner city with Soweto; and construction is underway to make the Rea Vaya link between the inner city and Alexandra and Sandton. All of these investments are expected to help ease traffic congestion, and unlock new property development opportunities. While Park Station Precinct is a reception space for people traveling into Johannesburg, there is a need for place making activities to focus attention and attract visitors to the interesting spaces and places around the stations and taxi ranks.

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Coming soon… 23 September 2014.

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On 23 September 2014, D_ZA will launch Adjaye’s design at an event to be held in Blue Room in Johannesburg’s Park Station. The Blue Room is a dining area abutting the old concourse of Joburg’s Park Station – closed off to the public, it’s 15m high vaulted ceilings provide a glimpse into Joburg’s history, concealed almost as a tomb behind the existing Park Station concourse.

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At a larger scale, the temporary Park Station Pavilion is a design instrument that will mark a significant change in the use of the site. Triggering the development of the much larger and permanent Food & Culture Hub, the pavilion will be the first gesture of the larger project to the city. Urban Works will be the lead designers of the Food & Culture Hub, their Director, Thiresh Govender conceptualized the food hub as,

‘a catalytic space that brings together diverse entrepreneurs in the food economy to develop their trades to promote healthy choices around the production and consumption of food in the city – with particular attention to local and affordable street food. Food security and our democracy are intertwined at the doorstep of this incredible metropolis. An inconvenient but appropriate challenge is established.’