GASS Architecture Studios recently walked away with an armful of awards at the GIFA Architectural Awards. 19AM was one of those award-winning projects, having won a well-deserved Award of Commendation.
19 AM is an existing building situated in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, between Hoofd, Ameshoff, Biccard and Simmonds Street. The building is situated next door to the Johannesburg Civic Theatre and the portion of Ameshoff and Simmonds Street that is pedestrianised.
The design focusses on the ground-floor spaces to open the building’s southern facade. New retail boxes were added on the Ameshoff and Biccard Street boundaries, with large balcony spaces overlooking the pedestrianised street. Future planning for the building involved a redesign of the public space in Ameshoff Street that includes new paving, planting and a ramp and stairs leading up to the civic theatre, to engage with the civic theatre to activate its western edge.
The main entrance of the building was kept in Ameshoff Street, and the existing foyer to the office building was enlarged to incorporate two new lifts linking the foyer to the new parking levels and newly renovated office floors.
New glass lifts link the ground-floor lobby space to new parkade floors and office levels up to level 8. On level 6 of the building, the new lifts are designed to open to both the office space and entertainment area on the roof of the parkade, which will be constructed at a later stage.
Attention was given to building access and security on the ground floor. Basement floors are connected to the foyer by an existing lift – therefore the basement parking is ideally suited to public parking and visitors, whereas the above-ground parking levels are for use by office workers.
New retail spaces were added to the ground floor through the extension of the existing retail boxes and on the east of the reception foyer, through the demolition of the existing basement “roof” and the addition of a new floor slab over. A new lower-ground floor and upper-ground floor level were also created to engage with the street level along the entire southern facade.
The new total area dedicated to retail space is 2 938m² under the roof. Two of the larger retail boxes include balcony space overlooking the public space in Ameshoff Street.
Pleasant pedestrian experiences
The new design creates a much safer and pleasant pedestrian experience and breathes new life into this previously desolate part of Braamfontein. The design approach looked at the larger Braamfontein area and how it could link with the University of the Witwatersrand and the civic theatre in the future through the redesign of the streetscape to the south of the building.
The plinth of the building was painted black, and some areas covered in textured plaster finished in black visually separating the new from the existing.
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