Civic

Bhisho Contact Centre – (2018)

The Contact Centre serves as a easily accessible gathering space and seeks to announce to visitors and residents that they have entered the Capital of the Eastern Cape Province. It forms an integral part of a first node of the “Bhisho Revitalisation Programme”.

Bhisho was a “new town” created out of nothing; built up on open pastureland to house the capital of the Ciskei homeland in the Apartheid 1980’s. Since then though, it has never quite escaped the sense that it is in some way a semi-abandoned, never-completed ghost town. The idea is that the Contact Centre is the first of a number of projects identified in an Urban Renewal Strategy to begin to “fill in the gaps” and act as a catalyst for other public and private sector projects to continue the pattern. The Contact Centre is used as an inter-departmental, inter-sectoral meeting place; a neutral space promoting communication across and between “silos”.

Positioned at the intersection of the R63 and Link Road, The Contact Centre is highly visible as an “architectural signpost”. It gives definition to the town by acting as an entrance gateway , together with the existing Bhisho Massacre Memorial site.

The building consists of flexible meeting and exhibition spaces. At ground level the building forms an extension to the development of the Bhisho Massacre Memorial, taking the concentric design of the memorial gardens into consideration. Through the creation of an expansive plaza, outdoor entertainment spaces along with information plaques; the design is an appropriate expression of the current development on site.

The building on ground level takes a circular form, with a contradicting rectangular shape presenting itself in the planning, once inside the building. The vertical circulation element is situated right at the entry point of the building, with the entrances on either side, forming the edges of a triple story void / natural ventilation stack system.

The circular form continues on the first floor. Both levels are enclosed with a continuous glazed curtain wall, which is offset from the floors. The second floor form changes from a circle to a more elongated oval shape, allowing a greater usable floor area. The entire Level is screened off with an external floor to roof timber louver system, to provide a solar shield.

Walmer Occupational Health and Wellness Centre (2010)

The NMBM Occupational Health and Wellness Centre Project formed part of the Nelson Mandela Municipality’s Integrated Development Plan 2006/07 – 2010/11 for the provision of public health facilities resulting in the development of this facility. It is tailored towards providing a more personalised healthcare environment to civil servants.

The Centre has been designed to be more sensitive, in scale and character to the surrounding context, while having subtle gestures in its form that set it apart as an identifiable anchor within the community.

A strong sustainable aspect is also applied through emphasis of natural lighting and utility of local building materials.

To ensure a cost effective and environmentally friendly building a C-Bus System was installed to control the artificial lighting and air conditioning. Sensors throughout the building activate the artificial lights whenever someone enters a room or an area and after a certain period of inactivity the lights automatically ensuring that lights do not burn unnecessarily.

Also, because of the C-Bus System, the air conditioners are activated by the same sensors controlling the lights. When no movement is detected in a particular room or area the air conditioners will switch off ensuring energy savings.

The Wellness centre comprises of the Ground floor which is dedicated to clinical services divided up into two wings.  The medicine dispensary and psychologist department and emergency services are in one wing and HIV and Tuberculosis consultations, prevention and treatment are located in the ‘main clinic’ wing.

The First Floor is dedicated to administration and health and safety officers who go out to the different sites to conduct their inspections.

Nelson Mandela Bay 2010 World Cup Stadium – in association with GMP, ADA, DBA & GAPP – (2009)

The Nelson Mandela Bay 2010 stadium sits as the largest single built structure in the Eastern Cape and it gives NOH great pride in having participated in providing the city with a landmark that will live on as part of its heritage. Designed to be an iconic structure, its large presence uniquely settles comfortably within the city’s landscape without overwhelming its surrounds. Its roofline leaves a memorable signature on both visitors and residents of Port Elizabeth.

Ubuntu Educational Centre – In Association with Stan Field Architecture – (2010)

The new Ubuntu Centre is conceived as a node of intensity in a pedestrian network and acts as an on-the-way place of congregation, healing and opportunity. Designed to sustain the physical wellness and uplift the spirit of the community, the centre aims to propagate hope throughout the township. The new Ubuntu Education Centre acts as a centre for the community and offers plethora activities including community education, health resources, a computer centre, and career guidance. A Wellness Centre provides Tuberculosis and HIV counselling. The Ubuntu Centre also houses a multi-purpose Hall with gathering space for singing, dancing, concerts, and exercise.

AWARDS

  1. The Eastern Cape Institute of Architects: Regional Award of Merit (2011)
  2. Fulton Award: Best Use of Concrete (2011)
  3. Fulton Award: Best Building Project (2011)
  4. South African Institute of Architects: Award of Excellence

NMMU Missionvale Campus Library – (2010)

This campus library is a part of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University upgrading Master plan. The building is designed to create a strong interaction between the built form and outdoor spaces so as to celebrate the civic nature of a library. In this respect an emphasis is made in establishing a threshold between the building’s entrance and its approach by having a well-articulated courtyard as a linking element. The buildings form and mass have also been used to create a sense of presence and spatial hierarchy within the university’s larger master plan.

AWARD

-The Eastern Cape Institute of Architects Regional Award of Commendation (2011)

Youth Centre – Community Facilities Fountain Road  – (2010)

The Advice Centre is one of the projects proposed for the upgrade of Fountain Road, the primary road serving the community in Gqebera.  It makes provision for a Library facility that was the first of its kind within community.

The existing, dilapidated, introverted Ekunyamezeleni Advice Centre along Fountain Road was earmarked to accommodate the development.  It occupies erf 4559 of Walmer Allotment area and is at an important node in the suburb of Gqebera.  Before the upgrade, the building accommodated a number of service providers, including doctor’s offices, funeral parlours, a post office and a community hall; it overlooked an internal square, turning its back on the community.

The new design sought to deliver a compact building, seeking to expose the square as well as contain and upgrade the civic functions it harbours and to maximise the buildings floor plate within the boundary line, which has large splayed corners.  By elevating the library above the noisy activities of Fountain Road, it allows a visual, communal link to this internal square, by means of a transparent building where the activities are exposed, contributing positively to the social fabric.

In order to make the centre recognisable, a distinct African theme was adopted in the conceptual stages.  Reference to basket weave, carving patterns and beadwork designs are hinted at, but the resultant geometry is completely new, contemporary and of this time and space.

The distinct and authentic African theme was further accentuated through the choice of materials, such as the timber joinery reception counter, diamond ground concrete reception and passage floor finishes, clay brick paving and walling on the ground floor and exposed timber beams.

The building’s activities are supported with passive design, where natural lighting features prominently, but also dealing with the harsh, western sun with a louvered facade that’s also inclined to deflect sunlight.  An impressive off-shutter inclined concrete structure, gives rise to slender steel supports that elevate a light metal sheeted roof.

80% of the facility caters for children, allowing this to be the first library serving and supporting the local children of the community.

Advice Centre – (2010) 

The Advice Centre comprises one of the projects for the upgrading of Fountain Road in Gqebera and makes provision for a Library facility that will be the first of its kind within the community. Furthermore, civic offices will also be upgraded at this important node in Gqebera.

KwaNobuhle Youth Services Centre – (2004)

The sprawling township of KwaNobuhle has no real town Centre, few formal businesses and landmarks and many well-located properties along its busiest streets left largely vacant for a “Future Town Centre.”  Previously a bus drop off point, the well exposed corner of Mabandla and Poswa Street was vacant barring several informal sellers who sat on the Mabandla Street’s busy edge to catch passing pedestrian traffic.

Commissioned by NMMM, through the Uitenhage Despatch Development Initiative (UDDI), a variety of street businesses formed mostly by youth, such as this, was formalized.  It is important that projects like these become civic structures that are landmarks within the urban context and as promoting small scale street business.

The facility deliberately appears to be big.  It is scaled according to its immediate surroundings: the petrol station canopy opposite, billboards, mast lights and the wide, busy Mabandla Street.

The inverted aerofoil canopy floats atop exaggerated inclined stanchions which act as structure, parking demarcation and lighting posts.  This canopy creates an architectural language unmistakably vehicular in nature, innovatively mimicking the filling station across the road, yet welcoming pedestrian activity.  Shop cubicles puncture the street facades when trading, while becoming solid roller shutter elements when the building shuts down.

Casual passers-by are encouraged to linger by an inviting seating ‘exhedra’ on the corner of the site, assisted by an innovative drinking fountain, both colorfully embellished with mosaic tiles.  The hemi-circular backrest wall of the former cleverly forms a billboard plinth, naming the complex in stainless steel cut-out lettering.  River stone ‘tesserae’ architraves surround small pierces window openings along the rear façade, providing humane proportion to neighboring properties. 

It is a place to wash cars and fit tyres but also a positive and popular place for people to visit and loiter around, popularizing the street edge.

Ntshekisa Street Car Wash – (2003)

The Site

There has been an informal carwash on the open parking bays on Ntshekisa Road at the entrance to New Brighton for years. The people that had been working there had no formal arrangement with the municipality to use the space, nor were the site zoned or serviced for this use. They had an agreement with the neighbour to use a garden hose, storeroom and toilet. The carwash was popular and busy. One needed to queue on a Saturday afternoon for the R20 wash, dry and vacuum treatment.

They were there because, for a car wash, that site is well suited. Ntshekisa Road is the main street into New Brighton. The site is exposed, has enough parking and easy access. There is also a grassed open area alongside it where clients can wait while their cars are being washed. Its good business sense to be there.

The Municipality

This has been a commission by the Nelson Mandela Metropole Municipality, under the auspices of the Mayor, to in some way formalise this and other street businesses. This includes formalising land tenure, business organisation and registration and promoting some built facilities. Significantly, the municipality has suggested that this is to take place where the businesses are. This example is in a road reserve on municipal property.

‘Civicness’

It is important that projects like these become civic structures that are landmarks both within the urban context and landmarks for the promotion of small scale street business. The car wash is deliberately big. It is scaled according to its immediate surroundings: the scale of the police station and estates division buildings, the scale of billboards, the scale of the wide and busy Ntshekisa Road and the scale of the long view of New Brighton down this street. It is a place to wash cars but also an announcement at the entrance to New Brighton. It has already picked up this kind of attention. New informal car washes have sprung up further down the road, with one going as far as calling itself,” The Real Carwash.”

Streetwise Business

This is a positive gesture by the municipality in recognising the value of existing street edge businesses and releasing some of the huge value potential that lies in excessive road reserves, public spaces that are never developed, and unused rail reserves etc. It also engenders an environment that promotes maximum street edge use. These lessons that are learnt at this micro level can inform planning at the larger scale in the city.

Node 2 Multipurpose Centre and Sports Facility – (2014)

The Node 2 Multipurpose Sports Centre forms part of the Makana Township Regeneration Strategy, funded by National Treasury as part of its NDPG programme. The strategy identifies several nodes along a major transport corridor within the Makana Township of Grahamstown. The ‘Node 2’ region is predominantly ‘Sports and Recreation’ orientated. Amongst the urban upgrades, provision for a new Multipurpose Sports Centre to replace the existing, under developed centre was proposed for the community.

The new Centre needed to promote itself as a hub of activities, supporting sport and community functions, religious gatherings, and even pertain to civic, public and private event needs. Providing a variety of activities encouraged the design of dynamic spaces allowing for flexible use of space. Key design principles guided every decision throughout the design; Flexibility, Durability, Efficiency, Legibility and Accessibility/Security. Amongst the effective use of robust materials to reduce Maintenance and other running costs, a sustainable design philosophy was incorporated throughout the design process.

A Multipurpose Sports and Community centre is a place of gathering, a place of pride, a place belonging to the community. Its presence must instil progression, longevity and pride.

Gelvandale Branch Court, In Nelson Mandela Bay – (2012)

The design evolved through several concept & sketch plans over many years as the client came to grips with what was really needed in this area and especially as they wanted to make use of the existing facilities.  In the end it was decided that 2 large courts were to be added and a concept of extending on top of the 2 existing large courts was suggested.  A concept was generated and sketch plans developed from this.

This concept took the original symmetrical layout with the central public atrium and extended it upwards to accommodate the 2 courts above it with a centralized lift & staircase for all.  The access also continued on this central access and the building is essentially split into east and west staff offices and included the carpark.  The magistrates, however have their own staircase at both ends within the building, including access from the carpark below, one of which is fitted with a stair lift for a disabled magistrate.

However, when the instruction to proceed with working drawings was received we were told to only include 1 extra court and that the 2nd extra court may be added later.  It was decided to continue with the sketch design but leave one court off knowing that it could be added later, though the building had now an asymmetrical appearance.

Nevertheless this was a very imposing building on the landscape!  The approach we took was to make this building as uplifting and people friendly as possible.  Whereas the previous building was bland facebrick we opted to use glazing and transparency as a simile for the justice that will take place here.

Reference to the old is retained and it is clear what is original and what is new, though the foundations were found inadequate to support the extra floors and one court was rebuilt from foundation.  We used glass and galvanized steel, aluminium louvres, brick, some glossy tiles and stainless steel, wide flat roofs, skylights (originals redone) and roof lights, to totally transform this building into something unique and hopefully an inspiring edifice to the community and a pleasure to work in and have justice served.

The language is modern, eclectic and with reference to timeless classical sense of law & order in the form of the triangulated gable which is a heavy structure, ‘miraculously’ seemingly supported on a glass façade, though actually on solid steel, which is a political statement and metaphor for the transformation that has taken place in our country!

Zwide Swimming Pool, In Nelson Mandela Bay (2011)

The new Zwide swimming pool project arose as a response from the community members and sports developers that felt there was a need for more supporting initiatives for young swimmers from disadvantage areas.  The existing Municipal swimming pool in Zwide Township located between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage was in a state of non-repair and had to be demolished entirely.  This same site was used for the new Zwide swimming pool

In addition to the Olympic size swimming pool, the client (Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality) also requested a baby pool, admin area, change rooms, filtration plant and a superintendents residence, so that the pool could be observed and taken care of 24/7.

With a limited budget, the approach was to elaborate on a group of simple buildings in order to bring an element of design at no great expense to the client.  This is expressed by landscaping the site into a series of curves, and further expressing them by adding curves to the building façade and boundary walls.  The entrance is emphasized by an angled canopy that is raised high up above the rest of the buildings.  Colour is brought into the design to emphasize playfulness.  This is done through the plum in the brickwork of the buildings and the colourful seats located throughout the site.

The cloakroom layout was arranged in order to create optimum circulation space for its users.  This, together with a disabled toilet and shower makes the facility wheelchair friendly.  A 1.1m high curved wall screens the exposed drainage from the street, thus allowing the curves and the element of fun previously mentioned, into the façade.

By locating the admin facilities together, it facilitates the control point for the supervisor, whose office is located next to the main entrance and in line with the deepest part of the main swimming pool (the middle of the swimming pool). Its position and the large glazed openings that enclose the office allow for maximum visibility of the swimming pools and its swimmers.  The tuck-shop and its store have been located next to the supervisor’s office.

The filtration plant is located far away from main activities due to its limited access nature. Here the water from the swimming pool, borehole and water harvesting system come together and are distributed to where necessary.

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