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Herbert Prins Colosseum Awards 2022

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BMW (SOUTH AFRICA)

Retrofit Award: BMW (South Africa), Boogertman + Partners

 

Designed by Hans Hallen and repurposed from a parts distribution warehouse into the brand centre, staff restaurant, and offices.

Controversially questioning the rigorous briefing requirements presented by BMW for the competition to refurbish the iconic building, dissolved the rigidity encapsulating previous solutions, thus enabling Boogertman + Partners to engage in creatively resolving the issues presented. A Hans Hallen architectural classic, the BMW Head Office has been rejuvenated to not only reflect BMW’s Neue Arbeitzwelten, ‘a new working environment’, but to also live up to the contemporary standards of energy efficiency and sustainability – all without losing the original spirit of design embodied in the building. ‘One can design a good building, but left in good hands, it can be better. It’s a good building. They improved it in many respects.’ Hans Hallen when visiting the refurbished building 2016 The outer, modern dark brick façade of the building was retained, in stark contrast to the inner façade which was demolished to enable extension into the newly landscaped courtyard to create spatial energy, movement and amplify light. The transparency of this fully glazed façade, and the seamless indoor-outdoor flow was enhanced by the use of dynamic, solar tracking, fritted glass louvres. Optimising the building envelope by the design of an adaptive interior space is facilitated by a number of carefully orchestrated interventions. The rigorous implementation of design concepts for green and sustainable building principles achieved the desired Green Star rating achievement – a 5* as built rating, with maximum points achieved in the Innovation and Energy categories. The final product, a carefully engineered co-existence between the creative pursuit of reinventing a respected architectural icon, implementing an international corporate standard, fulfilling the needs of BMW (South Africa), creating a productive, pleasant working environment and extending the building’s lifespan by the implementation of sustainable, green building principles. Light, lines and simplicity represent the internationally recognised BMW brand – design, passion, technology, innovation and attention to detail.

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AITON COURT

Small Scale Building Award: Aiton Court, Mayat Hart Architects

Aiton Court, completed in 1937, is an early international style modernist apartment block located in Hillbrow. The building was designed by pioneering Wits graduates Angus Stewart and Bernard Cooke. Located on a small former suburban stand, the building is formed by two blocks, orientated northwards towards the sun. The efficient design contains 25 bachelor apartments and 18 single rooms with shared ablutions. The lower street facing block is raised on piloti creating an entrance foyer and accommodating a caretaker’s flat. Shared social spaces include the ground floor courtyard and a roof top solarium. The building is both architecturally and socially significant. In the 1980’s, when owned by the Rawat Family, it was one of the first buildings to break apartheid segregation laws by welcoming black residents, with the building becoming a base for political activities as well as a hiding place for political operatives. It was during this period that a mosque opened in two of the ground floor courtyard facing apartments, a feature of the building which has been retained. After many attempts to have the building restored by Herbert Prins and Hannah Le Roux, it fell into disrepair and was high jacked. The buildings new owners wanted to renovate it as low cost housing meaning that the restoration work had to be done on a low budget with conservation needs having to be balanced with commercial realities. This was used to work in the interest of conservation with the repair, restoration and reuse of original fabric favoured over replacement with skilled and semi-skilled local contractors used for the labour intensive work. Priority was given to the restoration of public spaces which add greatest value to the residents. Before repair and restoration started, the building was used as a tool for teaching architectural conservation and documented by architecture students from the University of the Witwatersrand. Despite limited budget the work aimed to respect and recognize both the buildings architectural and cultural significance. The resulting process can best be described as sitting somewhere between repair and restoration. The approach can possibly be seen as a model for how inner city regeneration can be balanced with heritage responsibilities and commercial needs

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JCAF GALLERY IN FOREST TOW

Herbert Prins Colosseum Trophy and Heritage Award: Johannesburg Contemporary Art Foundation, StudioMAS Architects.

In essence the project entailed the conversion of an abandoned tram service station and electrical substation into a world class contemporary art gallery. The key design constraint was to work within the existing building fabric which was also heritage-protected, thus calling for meticulous renovations and well-considered additions rather than a new build. Beyond the limitations imposed by the heritage agency, the client had very strong ambitions to restore the building in a respectful way making it an extremely exciting project for us. The first dilemma: the third alteration The structure was first built to serve as an electrical Tram shed and substation as part of the tram system which operated in Forest Town from 1906 to 1961. In 1936 additions and renovations were carried out on the building by the City of Johannesburg Electricity Department. The Electricity Department bought the adjacent stands and extended the substation, not only to provide electricity to the local areas, but also to provide electricity for the tram services operating to Parktown North along Jan Smuts Avenue. The Jan Smuts tram line was intensely used and served the transport needs of the outlying areas of Parktown North and also provided recreational access to the Johannesburg Zoo and the Zoo Lake on weekends. When the trams stopped operating the building was left unused until we began the third alteration to change the industrial building into a world class art gallery. Our first step was clearing the site and restoring the structure to its former glory. One of the large parts of this process involved sandblasting layers and layers of paint off the facebrick exterior walls. Much time and skill was required to remove, restore and replace heritage components such as the light fittings, the steel doors and steel window frames. Elements that could not be reused such as the original tram trolley, which was still on the tracks, were donated to the transport museum for preservation. Reconcile the Industrial building and Public Art gallery Next we needed to take the now restored industrial building that was designed in a different time and with a very different use in mind, and find a way to make it fit for purpose – sensitively. Some aspects of this industrial style actually lend itself to a gallery, such as the robust facebrick facades, high level windows and big open volumes which are naturally cool and do not require a lot of cooling in summer. Other aspects where more challenging such as a lack of ‘entrance’, the [leaking] existing roof sheeting and internal gutters, the [not so air tight] steel window frames.

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KLEINE SCHUUR

Small Scale Building Commendation: Kleine Schuur, Office 24/7

There are not many buildings in the relatively young city of Johannesburg that can be classified as ‘old’. The number of buildings that can be viewed as ‘important’ for architectural and socio-cultural reasons are miniscule in relation to the total built fabric of the city.

This fragile heritage plays only a small part of the daily life of its inhabitants. Its role is so small and insignificant that most, generally, believe that this fabric can be allowed to follow a natural path into oblivion or that the salvageable materials/structures should be used for the very different requirements of newer generations and the conditions dictated by the quest for survival. Creatively stemming the tide of attrition. When the owners of a building and, in this case their architect, step in to creatively stem the tide 
of attrition – society should take note. When it is done 
with such elegance and careful thought – those interested in the values inherent in the built environment and the architectural profession, should celebrate. Kleine Schuur was designed in 1910 by Sir Herbert Baker for Denis Santry, who was a satirist working for the Sunday. Times and the Rand Daily Mail. This house, situated on the southern edge of the Parktown Ridge, was named Kleine Schuur in a satirical gesture to the house Groote Schuur in Cape Town, which was built for Cecil John Rhodes and was also designed by Sir Baker. Francis Fleming, Baker’s partner, later prepared the design for alterations to Kleine Schuur. The original double-storey house, built in the materials and solid craftsmanship of the time, reminds one of the Art and Crafts style of some typical English country cottages. Its symmetry is reinforced by its elevation, and steeply pitched Broseley tiled roof that has dormer windows and prominent chimneys.

Symmetry is reinforced In plan, this symmetry is reinforced with a central room stretching from the northern to the southern façades. Adjacent to this beautifully proportioned room, the more private and service accommodation is to be found. The house was placed right on the edge of the ridge to visually connect the north-facing garden with a magnificent southerly view over central Johannesburg.

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NEO-CLASSICAL FACADE

Specialised Restoration Award: The Restoration of the Neo-Classical Façade of the Robert Sobukwe Block, Kate Otten Architects.

The Central Block or Great Hall was the outcome of an architectural competition for the main buildings of the new campus for the University of the Witwatersrand. Convened in the 1920’s, first prize was awarded to the architect Frank Emley of Emley and Williamson. The project was duly tendered, and Barrow Construction were appointed, and the building completed in 1922. The fine workmanship evident in the columns and the many different component parts was due to the very capable patternmakers employed by Barrow Construction. The accuracy and sharp edges of the concrete blocks speak to a high degree of excellent craftsmanship. In 2020 pieces of concrete were falling from the facade onto the Great Hall steps. Closer inspection revealed long term weathering of the precast concrete blocks as the likely cause. The University duly commissioned the consultant team to tackle the restoration. A temporary catch net was installed, but it was not until a substantial scaffold had been erected across the entire temple front facade that the scale and extent of the problem was properly defined. The decorative modillions were found to be significantly spalled and numerous other issues identified that required restoration.

The main contactor AJ Renovatum was appointed who in turn appointed Old World Concrete to make replicas of the modillions - and other items - using latex and glass fibre moulds. A decision was taken to not clean the building with high pressure cleaners as this would have stripped the 100-year-old patina. The facade was however carefully washed by hand with nylon brushes, a mild detergent and water.

The double pitched roof over the temple front was clad with a standing seam copper roof as a permanent and very durable solution. The restoration of the front steps and the floor of the loggia was also attended to

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INNES CHAMBERS

Adaptive Reuse Award: Innes Chambers, Activate Architects.

Named after the appeal judge, Sir James Rose Innes, Innes Chambers is prominently positioned opposite the South Gauteng High Court on Pritchard Street, in the heart of the Johannesburg CBD. Originally the offices of the Johannesburg Bar, Innes Chambers was purchased by the Department of Public Works in the early 2000's, earmarked for redevelopment as the Johannesburg offices of the National Prosecuting Authority.
The refurbishment of the building required the upgrading and replacement of all services, and insertion of a contemporary office accommodation programme.
From the outset it was essential that the building meet current office accommodation and energy efficlency standards, without compromising the iconic aesthetic of the original design.
Designed in 1960, Innes Chambers is less than 60 years old, and is not formally protected in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act, yet recognised as a downtown landmark and a model example of 1960's modernist architecture.
Every effort was made to retain and restore original heritage elements.
To gain better understanding of the design, the Activate team met with Sydney Abramowich, the building's original architect. Abramowich described the process of designing the distinctive Y-column facade screens the screens were created not only as an aesthetic element, but also as a shading device, to keep the building cool in summer, and reduce reliance on mechanical air-conditioning," sketched under a tree in his garden on a Friday afternoon in 1959.
The expressionist movement Y-column screen sets Innes Chambers apart from its contemporary 1960's modern movement buildings. Influenced by prevailing in-terational trends, Innes Chambers is an elegant slice of mid century Brazil, carefully adapted to suit its downtown Johannesburg Location
Care was taken to restore the exterior of the building. Thousands of spalled mosaics were replaced, and even the original Innes Chambers signage was repaired and reinstated
Internal masonry office partitions configured to suit the needs of multiple past ten-ants, were removed and replaced with new drywall, reducing the the loading on to the existing structure and allowing greater flexibility for the reconfiguration of offices in time.

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MUSEUM COTTAGES IN NEWTOWN

Small Scale Building Commendation: Newtown Workers’ Museum Cottages, Mayat Hart Architects.

Dating from the early 20th century, the Workers Cottages in Newtown, Johannesburg, form part of the Workers Museum Complex. The Workers Museum is located in a former black migrant workers’ hostel, with the adjacent cottages built for white staff and supervisors. The museum speaks of the harsh segregated labour practices in the city with the relative comfort of the adjacent cottages further highlighting the segregation and prejudice that existed between workers of different races. The cottages, facing onto Mary Fitzgerald Square, had fallen into a state of disrepair and were left crumbling and unusable after a failed renovation project in the mid 2000’s. The project aimed to bring the cottages back to a condition where they could be used for offices for the Museum as well as spaces for various tenants and NGO’s that support arts, culture and heritage. From the beginning the tight budget was used as a means to conceptually guide the project. Botched renovations and the stripping out of sections of the building were seen as an opportunity to reveal the underlying materiality of the building. The building was seen as a physical documentation of its own history with its original materiality, defects and quirks accepted as part of its character and significance. The intention of the project was always to bring back the original quality of the building and not have new interventions outshine the old. With this in mind the hand of the architect had to be kept very light, almost invisible. The existing buildings guided design decisions with only a slight reinterpretation necessary to show these as a contemporary layering onto the site. Original paint colours of ochre and turquoise uncovered during the restoration were reinterpreted as blocks of colour to bring new energy into the spaces while new fittings and finishes are all reinterpretations of the old. Wherever possible existing materials were reused and recycled, from windows and floor boards to bollards and recovered bricks. Artwork became an important part of the project. A call was put out for local artists to prepare artworks following the theme of “Labour and Johannesburg - reflecting the past and present of workers in the region”. From the proposals 50 artists were commissioned to produce small artworks to form a permanent collection in the buildings. Framed and displayed in the recovered and recycled windows frames from the building they add an important new energy and meaning to the restored spaces. The commissions for the artists, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, were widely welcomed with the MMC for Community Development, Cllr Arnolds, expressing this at the opening of the buildings saying that “the artworks speak widely and directly to the people. They tell the stories of our City and of our nation; of our heroes and of the ordinary people. In that way, we are able to connect to workers’ history and this helps to show who we are and how we connect to our past and to each other. It is very fitting that these art works should be shown here.” The success of the renovation and restoration is a pair of buildings that look like they belong, as if nothing has changed despite their substantial upgrade. While the buildings represent a difficult part of South Africa and Johannesburg’s past their preservation is important. With the adjacent museum. The buildings remind us of a segregated and brutal past. They also however act as a reminder of how far we have come and are a symbol of hope for what can be achieved.

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HIDDEN PRETORIA

Research & Publications Award: Hidden Pretoria, Architect Johan Swart & Alain Prous

Despite being South Africa’s capital city, Pretoria has often played a supporting role to bold and brash Johannesburg and Cape Town’s cosmopolitan charms. However, when it comes to architectural heritage, the Jacaranda City is well-endowed. From the skyline-dominating Union Buildings and Voortrekker Monument to the imposing edifices of its administrative precincts, Pretoria might be deserving of a second moniker: the city of sandstone, brick and granite. But when you look beyond the impressive façades, soaring columns and linear planes of buildings that were intended to convey power and authority, you’ll find light-filled interiors embellished with decorative touches that are only hinted at from the outside. 

 

Murals, mosaics, domes, galleries, stained-glass windows, gleaming brass and impressive woodwork are often hidden from view behind doors that are closed to the public. And even those museums, buildings and places of worship that are open to all have architectural and design features that are easily overlooked. The history of the city, and of the country, has been played out in many of the buildings featured in  Hidden Pretoria. 

 

This book captures remnants of our diverse heritage so that a new generation might recognise the need to embrace the past in order to build our shared future.

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CREATING COROMANDEL

Research & Publications Commendation: Creating Coromandel: Marco Zanuso in South Africa, Edna Peres & Andrea Zamboni

Great buildings are those that ignite the imagination and elevate us beyond reality, and – by those standards – Coromandel House in South Africa is truly a masterpiece. This unique farmhouse, which sits in a spectacular valley in Lydenburg, 275km north-east of Pretoria, was built in 1975 and has since developed a cult following for its unusual aesthetic – part building, part ruin, part wilderness – inspiring anyone with an interest in building within a natural context. It is something explored by Creating Coromandel: Marco Zanuso in South Africa.

Coromandel House was designed by the Milanese architect Marco Zanuso (1916– 2001), who was commissioned by the South African fashion retailer Sydney Arnold Press (1919–97) and Press’s wife Victoria de Luria Press (1927–2015). They met in 1969, and their shared design passions sparked a decade-long partnership that yielded not only Coromandel House, a structure on the Press family’s vast farm, but also Edgardale (1978), their business headquarters. Creating Coromandel explores the association between the clients, the architect and prominent personalities, including photographers David Goldblatt (1930–2018) and Margaret Courtney-Clarke (born 1949), German-born architect Steffen Ahrends (1907–1992), Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx (1909–1994) and Italian landscape architect Pietro Porcinai (1910–1986).

Through impressive photos, sketches and testimonials, this monograph narrates and records an unknown period in Zanuso’s portfolio. He designed small-scale products (in the field of industrial design) as well as large-scale architecture (warehousing for IBM and Olivetti) but, with Coromandel House, Zanuso competently mediated both scales. Creating Coromandel documents Zanuso’s extraordinary responses to landscape and his sensational interiors, but also offers a glimpse into the design process and amount of collaboration it involves. For fans of Coromandel it provides a single reference source; for architects, designers, historians, photographers and anyone interested in design and architecture it provides an inspirational story behind the process of building a legacy.

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CLIVE

Special Honour Posthumously Award: Clive Chipkin for his publications

It is with great sadness that we advise of the passing of Clive Chipkin earlier this morning (Sunday, 10 January 2021) at the age of 91.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Chipkin, Hudson and Leveson families on their bereavement. “May God console you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”

May his soul find peace under the wings of the Eternal, and may his memory be for a blessing.

Clive was a noted architect and historian of architecture in Johannesburg, and a committed and enthusiastic member of Beit Emanuel. He will be sorely missed by the regulars at our Friday evening Brachot (now something of a distant memory) and other events.

(Submitted by William Martinson.)

Obituary in The Heritage Portal by Kathy Munro.

Was born in Yeoville, Johannesburg, his mother being Sarah and his father Morris Chipkin. He received his schooling at King Edward VII School.

'… Yeoville and its peripheries was a suburb of churches (including some large Catholic and Anglican establishments) and shuls and more shuls, [yet] there is not a single noticeable DRC church spire in the area. …

Yeoville, with its various congregations, where the carillon of bells from St Aiden's and St Francis, and the tinkle from St Johns, were part of the suburban milieu as well as the great choral acclamation of Kol Neidre from the large shul at the corner of Francis Street and Kenmere Road. The Yeoville Synagogue was a red brick Queen Anne foursquare building from the 1920s. On the inside a pair of white marble wall tablets were placed symmetrically about the Ark of the Covenant, the one in Hebrew, the other in English: prayers for the Royal Family, "to good King George and gracious Queen Mary and their possessions beyond the seas. ..."' (Chipkin, 2007: 228)

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