City of Johannesburg- New Council Chamber
studioMAS Architects and Urban Designers - South Africa
Drawings, plans, elevations
The new City of Johannesburg’s Council Chamber is an iconic structure that celebrates African principles of space making and symbolises the City’s transformation in line with the core values of transparency, accountability and accessibility – is the first municipal building in South Africa to be certified under the Green Star SA Public and Education Buildings (PEB) tool while achieving a Green Star SA Socio-Economic Category (SEC) rating. As the first building in the planned Metro Centre Precinct in Braamfontein – With its prime position at the top of Rissik Street, the Chamber is located within a ten-minute walking distance (or 800m radius) of the Gautrain (Park Station), two Rea Vaya bus stations, Metro bus stations and taxi service stops. In its response to its context, the design of the new Johannesburg Council Chamber surpasses the City’s expectations. The circular form of the Chamber – which takes its cue from the traditional African structuring of meetings (Lekgotla – a Tswana word referring to an outdoor meeting space), and is symbolic of an African drum – is an inclusive space that will enhance positive dialogue during Council meetings. The highly transparent nature of the building allows an uninterrupted visual link between the building’s occupants and the public, symbolising the key precepts of democracy – transparency and good governance; and promoting constant dialogue between the public and municipal officials. This is achieved while still respecting the highly specific nature of proceedings and the need for strict security for Councillors – which is adequately catered for through the building’s security system and protocols. The unique curved glass with gold fins are major design elements that give the building its iconic character which resonates to Johannesburg – A place of Gold. The Conference System user interface is very user friendly, and is a simple yet sophisticated system that drives a paperless environment, allowing old documents and order papers to be archived and accessible; and allowing current agendas and relevant papers to be immediately accessed through state-of-the-art touchscreen technology. The fact that the building has been awarded a 5-star Green Star SA design certification in the category for Public and Education Buildings (PEB) as well as a Green Star SA Socio-Economic Category (SEC) rating, is representative of the progressive stance that the City is taking towards service delivery and towards furthering sustainable city development and socio-economic transformation. Overall the building has succeeded in meeting the City’s objectives of sustainable and progressive design, transparency, accountability and accessibility.