Design Concept

The DESIGNING_SOUTHAFRICA pavilion will be located on the concourse next to the Gautrain station on the northern section of the Park Station precinct in Johannesburg. It is purposefully positioned in relation to the precinct’s vaulted old station – often referred to as the Blue Room. Inspiration is drawn directly from the building’s rhythmic arches and monumental aesthetic that was conceived to articulate the romance and grandeur of colonial travel. At the time, the opportunity was exclusive, so this pavilion is an antidote and rests on the idea of invitation rather than exclusion.

Designed to provide visitors with an immersive and multi-sensual experience, the pavilion is like a giant piece of architectural furniture that continues David Adjaye’s investigation into proto-public buildings, gathering places from which to reflect on the state of the surrounding city. Often taking the form of protected platforms, they suggest that Adjaye is primarily concerned with making spaces that establish new relationships between people, places, and institutions.

Integrating enclosure, aperture, views, respite, meditation, performance and community, the pavilion also explores the idea of new and old by creating a dialogue between contemporary design and the historic vaults of the station building. The concept has therefore been driven by the use of a dominant primary material to reinterpret and respond to the forms of the arches. The timber columns and arches are elevated upon cast concrete podia, which also act as a highly durable urban furniture system.

Oriented to address the entrance to the station, the pavilion is rectangular on plan, with the rhythmic arches establishing an elegant, three dimensional frame. The proportions of the columns and arches are exaggerated and elongated to play with perspective and enhance the perception of height.  Measuring 5m tall, the geometry has been carefully configured to create a double arch on one side and a dramatic single arch on the other. The arches are created by hundreds of hanging timber pieces of varying lengths, which are joined to give the pavilion its rigidity and strength. The tactile nature and smell of the timber heightens the senses, while light filters in from above, providing a dynamic filigree of shadow below.