Designing a new Johannesburg

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Architecture is “The art or practice of designing and constructing buildings.” Quite a dull definition isn’t it? We spoke to architect Mxolisi Makhubu who passionately defined it as “The poetry of accommodating spatial needs and desires”. Take a walk around Johannesburg’s Noord taxi rank and look at those buildings. Take a journey through Hillbrow, look […]

Architecture is “The art or practice of designing and constructing buildings.” Quite a dull definition isn’t it? We spoke to architect Mxolisi Makhubu who passionately defined it as “The poetry of accommodating spatial needs and desires”.

Take a walk around Johannesburg’s Noord taxi rank and look at those buildings. Take a journey through Hillbrow, look around you and come down towards Braamfontein and Newtown, can you spot the difference? Our spaces are changing to accommodate a new generation and a new way of living. With the Live photographer Khotso Tsaagane in tow, I went out to investigate these new developments in our Johannesburg and find out just how architecture has changed it.

From a creative point of view, Johannesburg is being designed to look playful, youthful and all kinds of colourful. “It’s impossible for one not to notice that a new Johannesburg is being constructed because almost everywhere you go you are met with builders in overalls and new, creative buildings and designs. “The major difference between the old architecture and the new is that modern spaces on the fringes of the city allow for subversion, this allows for the old architecture to remain relevant,” says Mxolisi.

“Architecture is the poetry of accommodating spatial needs and desires,” says Mxolisi Makhubu.

Look out for rebuilt Johannesburg Public Library precinct which is one of Mxolisi’s favourite designs in the city. “I love how the gardens surrounding the building allow it to be more integrated with the public activities outside the library,” adds Mxolisi. Also check out Newtown’s cultural precinct and the space around the Market Theatre, it gives off an artsy, creative vibe.

New developments in technology has helped architects to better communicate their vision and design to their clients and generally allows the client to have a better understanding of the design before it’s a reality. There are many opportunities for young people in the architecture industry as well so if you see yourself as the inventor of the next generation’s Johannesburg, go ahead and follow that passion.

“The beauty of architecture is that’s unavoidable,” says Mxolisi.

“The beauty of architecture is that’s unavoidable. When people understand its intrusiveness and its effects on their everyday lives, they will have a greater understanding of ways to manipulate their spatial environment to their needs”, says Mxolisi.

Architecture is everywhere, do you appreciate it?

Learn more about architect Mxolisi Makhubu. Check the South African Institute of Architects website for more information on how to pursue a career in architecture.