Drill Hall, Johannesburg

landing image

Advancement in architecture

The overarching achievement lies within the realm of physical conservation and its relationship to the socio-cultural heritage of place; the coming to terms and reconciliation of a past history; a celebration and a re-membering. The architectural intervention of transforming an internalized site into a site of place making will enable the memorialization of events, ideologies and personalities to express the essences of the layered history of Johannesburg.

The flexibility of use and the incorporation of divergent uses such as the military, community facilities, art exhibition and event form a synergy reflective of the current social and political context. The place making principle affords its users the opportunity to pause and reflect within the enclosure of layered built fabric. The dissemination of information will guide and inform visitors. The subtleties of form and elements within the space will provoke thought and intrigue carrying new meaning of past memories.

The need to conserve is highlighted in the preservation of the existing buildings and is demonstrated in the detailed combination of old remnants with new structures. The old walls of the western block have been structurally underpinned and supported by the new steel structure which rises through the building and emphasizes the significant elements of the destroyed building. This is done by outlining the edges of the building to its original height and reflects its double gable façade. The glass infill represents a memory by being transparent. The building is transformed with entrance elevations on both sides. The west is retained as its street entrance and the east responds to the public space. The building once the main entrance to the site is retained as the threshold to the public square.

Sustainable architecture is achieved in the giving of new life to a site which fell into dereliction. The renewal of the city is enhanced through the identification of this significant urban fabric.

The city has reclaimed its ownership over the site. The drive and will of the cities decision makers shall encourage the new city users to take their place and responsibility for the enhancement of the quality of life within the city.