Cool Redesign: 138 Jan Smuts in Rosebank

WORDS Alma Viviers PHOTOS Maritz Verwey

The redesign of 138 Jan Smuts by C76 Architecture is the latest in a series of new developments in the evolution of Rosebank.

With recent developments like the Gautrain station and Keyes Art Mile, the cosmopolitan commercial and residential suburb of Rosebank is regaining its status as one of the coolest precincts in Jozi.

The conversion of the 1960s apartment building at 138 Jan Smuts into a collaborative office space has contributed a distinctive new character to the area.

Carl Jacobsz, founder and principal architect of C76 Architecture, wanted the building to set the tone for other potential developments within the immediate context while stimulating conversation about the changing nature of the city at large.

The building offers collaborative office spaces, encouraging like-minded creatives to work together, as well as galleries and space for exhibitions. An accessible roof deck serves as a vantage point for exquisite views of Johannesburg and the sunset, situating the user within the greater context of the city.

The building’s design language strikes an easy balance between the contemporary and the industrial, the old and the new, with the form dictated by environmental considerations.

Carl employed innovative strategies to ensure natural ventilation, passive climate control and plenty of natural light. The distinct zigzag silhouette of the roof was informed by the east-west orientation of the building, allowing for northern light to flood in.

To retain a layering of history, Carl opted to recycle bricks from the original structure in a textured breeze-block design on the eastern facade. New additions are done in exposed brickwork, steel, glass, duraplastic and wood. Adding a pop of colour to the raw-material palette is a zesty-yellow service staircase that serves as a fire escape.