The Hill Café

The Hill Café is a steel restaurant pavillion built as a temporary structure on the foundations of a demolished lunatic asylum in Johannesburg’s historical Old Fort. The original building had been demolished to make way for a parade ground for the Transvaal Scottish Regiment.

The design went through numerous iterations, all of which were rejected by the Constitution Hill Heritage Committee. The building’s form and location were eventually entirely dictated by the Committee’s need to commemorate the location of the asylum, which was an east-west facing building. The building thus required a saw-tooth roof to bring northern light into the seating spaces. 

Local Studio performed the role of contractor on the project, allowing a measure of experimentation with structure and material. The main structure was built primarily with slender 50mm steel sections which support a roof of translucent multiwall polycarbonate. 

The Hill Café was designed as a temporary structure and intended to last only 2 years, but was operated for 4 years by The Awethu Project before closing in 2018.

Client: The Awethu Project
Project area: 75 sqm