The project was initiated in 2010 by Silvio Rech, who proposed the idea that the inner city, particularly Braamfontein, needed more pedestrian public open spaces to compliment the increasing residential densities and to create a precinct heart. The Grove was the first of these implemented projects and involved the demolition of a three storey building to create a public piazza opposite Southpoint Properties’ headquarters. Unfortunately, Silvio Rech didn’t remain involved in the final realisation of the project and another firm diluted the concept severely through a lack of understanding of the public space. The initial development of the square also covered up essential access to the parking garage of some 100 cars. Local Studio’s commission on the project was two-fold: to open up access to the parking garage and to optimise the design of the square, which had shown languishing pedestrian numbers.
This was one of Local Studio’s first commissions with Southpoint Properties, who are now a long-term client. The design process began with a thorough mapping project which sought to understand the relationship between open space, light/warmth, pedestrian movement and retail. A time-lapse photography study was performed, inspired by the work of William H. Whyte and the resultant design is a very pragmatic response, which looks to increase comfort, functionality and flow across the space.