The City of Joburg Council Chamber by StudioMAS

WORDS Amelia Brown IMAGES Tristan McLaren

Architecture and urban design firm StudioMAS conceptualised the new Council Chamber for the City of Johannesburg as part of a larger precinct proposal for the Metro Centre in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

This upgrade of the Metro Centre Precinct aims to reinforce the pedestrian links between Hillbrow and Berea with Braamfontein and Wits University, and to unite the existing civic campuses of the Metro Centre, Constitution Hill and the Joburg Theatre. The new Council Chamber building, situated prominently at the northern end of Rissik Street, forms the catalyst for the redevelopment of this important precinct.

According to StudioMAS, the brief from the City of Joburg called for a larger chamber to house all of the city’s ward councillors. In addition, it needed to offer sufficient seating space for members of the public and the media. The result is a curved glass envelope, which facilitates a visual link between the councillors and the public, while still complying with the strict protocol requirements of the chamber proceedings.

“The form of the building is derived from the design principles of dialogue, transparency and accountability,” the firm explained, “and is a representation of inclusiveness and participation in post-Apartheid South Africa. The building’s round plan is drawn from the forms of the Setswana ‘lekgotla’ and the Roman ‘agora’, both traditional meeting places which promote all voices equally, democratic dialogue and fair decision-making.”

Council chamber is the first municipal building in South Africa to be certified under the Green Star SA Public and Education Buildings (PEB) tool while achieving a Green Star SA Socio-Economic Category (SEC) rating. The building, with its gold-coloured accent materials that were chosen to pay homage to the city’s gold mining history, is a visual representation of “Egoli”, the city of Gold.

StudioMAS was one of the architectural firms featured as part of the Architect’s Gallery at Design Joburg in May (read about it here). Watch what architect Carla Soudien of StudioMAS had to say about the exhibit and the Council Chambers below.