Rosebank Hotel: Radisson Red

WORDS Zanele Kumalo PRODUCTION Klara van Wyngaarden PHOTOS Dook

The Radisson Red’s second iteration in South Africa adds even more colour to Rosebank’s vibrant and walkable precinct. Not only does this brilliant design hotel have its five Green Stars, it is also a bold play on hospitality and revitalised city living.

Things have changed. How we connect. Where we work, what makes us feel like we belong, the experiences we cling to…

This is the principal thought that design studio DHK Architects and interior design studio SourceIBA have had fun celebrating at the new Radisson RED hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg. And in order to get it right, Jeremy Stewart of SourceIBA says it was important to focus on reflecting the locale and its community – and to create future-proof public areas that are flexible in layout and functionality, and that will accommodate any potential challenges down the road.

Key parts of Rosebank’s identity are art (Keyes Art Mile is a five-minute walk away), fashion (The Zone and Rosebank Mall are just over 100 steps away) and music (Sony Music Entertainment Africa is one of the hotel’s neighbours). It’s one of Joburg’s most energetic communities – and that dynamic, creative scene has become part of the hotel’s DNA too. Visitors are encouraged to immerse themselves in it, whether within or beyond the face-brick-clad façade and glass curtain walls framed in aluminium that form part of the building.

A large, glossy, red Marlene Steyn sculpture welcomes you from atop the main entrance, feet dangling against a starry canopy of halo lights, head in hands, as she enjoys the same views that guests will through punch-framed windows that fill the rooms with natural light. The vista takes the eye across to Ponte City, a key part of Joburg’s distinctive skyline. Should you approach from around the corner, a pair of red wings with feathers made provocatively of shimmering iron plates (pictured above) by artist Usha Seejarim signals a welcome. And just as there would be in a gallery or art institution, each Radisson RED has a “curator” in the form of its general manager. The lobby is a warmly lit exhibition space featuring large-scale art that will be changed every six months: currently, you’ll find Ghanaian artist Prince Gyasi’s saturated prints on the walls, which in turn lead you past a digi-wall, where you can take a selfie as you tap on screens to get real local insider info on where to spend your time in the neighbourhood, whether that is post-breakfast or during an evening out.

Radisson Red
The rooftop terrace offers the best seat in the house.

Alternatively, make your way past a nostalgic pinball machine and soft-serve ice cream station, a variety of event studios for conferencing or movie screenings, a reading room, a Jake Singer sculpture and 222 guest rooms, all the way up to the hotel’s triumph: a rooftop terrace with a circular bar and red-tiled lap pool, flanking close-to-wrap around views of the city.

To complement the artworks, Jeremy says an enormous collection of objets d’art was sourced from local makers and artists, mostly within Gauteng, to support the design economy here. “Key pieces by local designers Haldane, Pedersen + Lennard, Anatomy Design, Dark Horse, James Mudge and Porky Hefer form the backbone of the furniture collection, while products by local manufacturers and suppliers such as Lucky Fish, Alifurn, Monn, Brisago and Créma Design further enhance the overall feel and sense of local design content and talent,” he says.

Recognising that it’s no longer enough to create a building that merely looks great and feels playful – and more aware than ever of our singular and collective carbon footprint – the Radisson RED Rosebank was also designed to meet the requirements of a five-star Green Star Custom Hotel v1 Design Rating, with energy and environmental considerations that spill out onto the pavement. It aligns with plans for Oxford Parks, the mixed-use space and pedestrian environment in which it’s prominently located, and on which links to Illovo – and potentially as far as Parkwood, Parktown North and Parkhurst – are possible.

The hotel’s location has legs too: it’s situated just 250 steps from the Rosebank Gautrain Station, or a 30-minute drive from OR Tambo International Airport. No doubt, then, that this art- and design-filled haven is set to become a transformative meeting point for locals and travellers alike.

Looking for more architectural inspiration? Take a look at the colourful Hotel Sky on Cape Town’s Foreshore.