The City of Johannesburg’s (CoJ’s) Council Chamber, which is managed by the CoJ’s property portfolio company, Joburg Property Company (JPC), has been awarded the Public Services Development award by the Africa & Arabia Property Awards.
The JPC will officially receive the award at a ceremony at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, in September. The project was completed in March last year.
The Africa & Arabia Property Awards are judged by an independent panel of 70 industry experts. Judging focuses on design, quality, service, innovation, originality and commitment to sustainability.
The chamber also received a 5-Star Green rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa last year and an award in the Other Developments category at the South African Property Owners Association Innovative Excellence in Property Development Awards, held in Cape Town last month.
The Council Chamber has been designed to provide seating capacity for 361 councillors and 158 seats in the gallery for the public and media – 80 seats more than required, to cater for future expansion.
The audio-visual and delegate system is fully programmable and completely customisable, and can be updated in line with any future changes in operations.
The form of the chamber is that of a traditional drum, which was inspired by the Tswana word lekgotla, which follows the African tradition of allowing anyone to talk without interruption. The drum has been used for centuries to call those from surrounding areas to come together for social gatherings or for important meetings.
The chamber is a cylindrical structure enveloped entirely by a glass façade with vertical glass fins covering the curved outer layer of the building. The glass building envelope enables an uninterrupted visual link between the indoor and surrounding outdoor spaces, enabling the outside world to have a visual connection with the building’s occupants, which is symbolic of a constant dialogue between the public and municipal officials.
Architect for the project, studioMAS, wanted to celebrate African principles of space making while incorporating smart technologies and green building systems.
Turnkey development, finance, programme management and utility solutions provider Bayete Capital senior development manager Paul Spencer explained during a tour of the Council Chamber last month that a survey was conducted following the completion of the building, which found that more than 3 000 people use the chamber as a throughway every day.
Owing to the high level of pedestrian traffic, the JPC has made a R15-million investment to make the chamber a destination for people to stay rather than to just walk through.
Spencer noted that to improve the attractiveness of the chamber, a rainbow pathway has been laid. Further, there are a number of leisure-based initiatives, such as an outdoor chess set, green area, outdoor gym, childrens’ play area and a 6 m × 4 m big-screen television on the exterior of the building that will show sports matches or movies.