The Newtown Junction mixed-use development in the west of Johannesburg’s CBD forms part of the city’s ambition to revitalise the Newtown area – a precinct already undergoing significant regeneration - and long established as the cultural heart of the city.
The landmark project is an important commercial catalyst for the area, providing new retail and office space and reinvigorating the existing arts and entertainment venues, representing a substantial investment in inner city regeneration.
The site was assembled through a complex consolidation process, and also required extensive enablement works including rerouting and enlarging one of the city’s principle stormwater channels. The process required cooperation of various authorities driven by the development aims.
The new development has provided vital extensions to the urban streetscape of this cultural precinct, in the form of a landscaped public piazza, open events space and new routes through the site, for both the visitors to the mall, surrounding arts and events venues, as well as for use by the new office tenants.
The site is bounded by significant buildings including the Market Theatre, Museum Africa and Mary Fitzgerald Square as well as the M1 freeway overpass and Nelson Mandela Bridge. It contains several historic structures such as the Potato Sheds and Edwardian railway sidings, and smaller heritage buildings such as the Majestic complex, an Edwardian toilet block, and its later imitation Kippies Jazz Club.
The development involved significant investment in retention of the heritage elements of the site. In particular, the historic Potato Sheds were dismantled, fully restored and reinstated on site in their original position. The Edwardian railway bridge was also restored and re-established as a link between the existing Market Theatre and the adjacent new buildings.
The new buildings respond clearly to the surrounding historic buildings, both in materiality and detailing – the industrial context of steel and brickwork in a distinctly urban environment. By using these materials offset with contemporary glazing, clean lines and bold proportions, the new buildings sit confidently within the surroundings. Where there have been new interventions to historic portions of the site, they have been kept clearly contemporary, in contrast to the delicate Edwardian steelwork and detailing. This bold approach in design is in keeping with the spirit of Newtown.
The 85,000m2 development includes a new 38,000m2 shopping mall, which opened late October 2014, a gym and substantial parking provision, and 30,000m2 of new commercial office space which will be occupied by Nedbank. The new office accommodation achieved a 4 Star Green Star SA design rating, in keeping with the tenant’s commitment to sustainability.
dhk were the lead architects for the project, working with LP Architects on the retail elements and heritage specialists Mashabane Rose Associates.