Posts Tagged ‘ Joburg ’

December 2013


The rooftop garden at the Agrivaal building

So November is over and so, pretty much, is 2013.

The installation at Bank City for FNB was one of the most exciting things we did this year, and it’s still getting posts. It also featured on the cover of the November issue of Real Estate magazine.

Staying urban, early last month I attended the Transformative Urban Regeneration Conference, which was hosted by the African Centre for Cities and the City of Ekurhuleni. There were some really engaging international speakers (three of whom are South American, one Dutch and one Indian) complemented by equally fascinating local ones. When talking to them privately, all of the foreign speakers were most struck by our boundary walls here in Jozi – even more so than the weather! Obviously, this is partly a response to the crime levels we experience here, but it seems that they are also symbolic of our society’s predilection for private space over public. And it’s not only in the previously-privileged suburbs, either, the walls are ubiquitous in the more sociable “townships”, too. There is one going up in front of the building accross the road from our office as I write this, to replace the wall that was taken down by the previous owners some years ago. Luckily, we don’t have a wall in front of our office, so traffic could be diverted through our driveway when a brick truck for said building site blocked off Sixth Street last week. Andrew sent me an abstract on a conference on European squares held a decade ago, and it drove home the fact that an outdoor public place has formed the heart of every European town for hundreds – if not thousands – of years. We might not have that kind of heritage, but surely we still need places we can come out from behind our walls to socialize in public in, and we don’t have enough of them. We should break down as many of the walls that we can, too, like the Goethe Institute here in Joburg did a while ago. Anyway, I’ve digressed, but it was a fantastic conference and I think I will try to tell you more about it in a special newsletter.

The Botswana Innovation Hub was another of our big projects this year, and our friends from SHoP Architects came to visit us here in Joburg. We posted some new renderings of the Innovation Hub, as well as a presentation on the “cycle of mediocrity” by Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP. We also posted an article on how great it is here in Jozi ahead of their visit, just so they wouldn’t wish they were rather visiting Cape Town.

We also posted new renderings of the Agrivaal building – one of them appears at the top of this article. Here’s the other one. And someone posted a video of the Wind Portal by Ned Kahn at the San Francisco Airport – look at his other work, too. Finally, we posted an article on boxes in museum design and asked our friends to share their favourite box project. We got two suggestions : the Flederhaus in Vienna and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art in Cape Town. We added the Olivetti store by Carlo Scarpa in the Piazza San Marco in Venice.

We are here for another two weeks, but as this is the last scheduled newsletter for 2013, I will use it to say thank-you for your support in 2013, have a great year-end break (I hope you’re taking one!) and all the best for 2014.

’til next time.

August 2013

Well, if you’ve visited our facebook page in the last month, you might have noticed that we’re quite excited about an installation we’re working on for Bank City in the Johannesburg CBD. It’s to celebrate FNB’s spring festival, and James and Anton are busily preparing for spring, as you can see from all the photos. In fact, you will note that there are no other posts by these normally prolific posters, so busy are they.  I complained to James about this lack of other things to write about, and he undertook to post some interesting stuff, but – nothing. So maybe this will be a short newsletter. But this spring promises to be more exciting in the Joburg CBD, with a couple of other events planned for the end of this month and in September. These are the Joburg City Festival and the Arts Alive festival – joint the countdown on the Arts Alive’s facebook page.

I posted something about a set of plantable stamps issued to celebrate 50 years of Singapore’s green movement. I’ve seen business cards that can be made to sprout before (a landscape architect’s, of course), but I liked the fact that you could send these and if your letter wasn’t delivered, at least it would might grow along the Braamfontein Spruit. Of course, in Singapore, it would be delivered, in the same way as all the amazing green infrastructure in the last 50 years. Like the Gardens by the Bay.

I also posted a link to an article about a brick system that allows niches for house sparrows to nest in walls. Isn’t that great? At last, built acknowledgement that we share the planet with other animal species! I was more aware of birds’ nests because a week ago I got around to putting up a nesting log that had been knocking around my house for years, and a Crested Barbet has already started modifying it, hopefully with a view to moving in. I just hope it doesn’t drill through the bottom, as they are wont to. And Anton has been chastizing the Masked Weaver trying to nest over our deck here at the office about the mess he is making.

’til next time.

Leonotis at Freedom Park

Leonotis at Freedom Park

%d bloggers like this: