Documentation, events and publications on architecture from South Africa and in South Africa.
My attempt to be provocative and misspell the word density as ‘dencity’ did very little to provoke real debate about the current status of inner-city housing. There was, however, a heated exchange about the re-use of material at the Mandela Rhodes Building: should we or shouldn’t we? Mmm too much effort to recycle so let’s just buy new rare wooden parquet flooring tiles and throw out the old ones!
Mandela Rhodes atrium space - DHK
Inside a Mandela Rhodes apartment/hotelroom
What a pleasure to see some innovative planning as I discovered at Wonderviews Mews, a student residence on Mowbray Main road designed by Design Studio. I consequently got to know the owner quite well and what I found refreshing from my discussions with him is that he seems to be unswayed by class/racial/xenophobic tensions that exist in South Africa. As long as you can afford to pay the rental you are welcome as a tenant. The result is a ground floor that is a mini-mall of sorts where small scale entrepreneurs like hairdressers can ‘rent a chair’ within a bigger salon and thereby a number of hairdressers share the rental expense of the big salon. The student housing above is accessed from the back and although the planning is tight, the large volumes made it feel generous. I also loved the complexity of the street relationship that is created with the mobile screens on the first floor balcony: a nuanced private but public ambiguity.
Large volumes inside Wonderviews Mews - Design Studio
Main Rd facade - Wonderviews Mews Design Studio
Springfield Terrace in Woodstock, our last stop, is an overlooked gem as far as inner-city housing is concerned. Here the architects created real diversity within a simple pattern, the achievement here, of course is the public space. There are about 5-6 sets of duplexes with about four-five apartments each. Each apartment has a direct connection with the street via a balcony, stair or entrance. Because there are always residents looking onto the street, the street becomes a lively safe place to be. Using brick as a surface material throughout also allows it to become a multifarious space suited for pedestrian and vehicles equally. Photo credits: Cesar Besada