Braamfontein Gate is the conversion of the formed high-rise headquarters of the Total Oil Company into affordable rental housing. The development consists of 400 residential units, a rooftop event space, retail units, a coffee shop, a business centre, a gym, an action court and a swimming pool. The project is illustrative of the quote by Joseph Campbell, ‘if you want to see what a society really believes in, look at what the biggest buildings on the horizon are dedicated to’. This is the tallest building in Braamfontein and there is much excitement for it to become the symbol of a new future for the city, moving away from soulless capitalism and towards a more neighbourhood-based economy and society.
The design process was essentially two-fold. On the one hand, Local Studio looked at the most efficient way to structure the existing deep office floor plates into at least twelve housing units per floor. On the other hand, efforts were dedicated towards restructuring the ground floor space to become a welcoming public piazza and communal facility for residents. Another important design consideration involved the replacement of dark glass sun shades on the exterior of the building with white corrugated steel panels to form a ballustrade for new balconies created for each unit. Visible at street-level is a new, gold, faceted-steel canopy, providing shelter from sun and rain for visitors arriving on foot.
Tied to this project, Local Studio recently completed the Rissik Str. Promenade, which is a 300m promenade connecting the Gautrain rail station to the Johannesburg City Hall, via Braamfontein Gate. The promenade allows for safe and comfortable movement of pedestrians in what was previously a high-mugging zone. As a part of the project, the developers of Braamfontein Gate opened a public pedestrian route through their site, at the northern edge. This new route creates a meaningful eastern termination of Juta Str. which has emerged as one of the most important cultural hubs in the Braamfontein area.