University of Johannesburg
The University of Johannesburg
PROJECT   Images
In designing an environment conducive to academic activities, the primary objective for this new university was to create a compact pedestrian campus with a maximum degree of centralisation, thereby encouraging interfaculty communication and providing flexibility for future expansion.

An inner landscaped space of garden and fountains is enclosed by the semi-circular complex, around which a lofty gallery walkway forms the communication spine. Commencing at the main entrance and library this walkway links all faculties, accommodating communal facilities such as exhibition areas, coffee bars, museums and shops, and culminating at the main auditorium, cafeteria and indoor sports facility.

Situated on the inner arc of the gallery walkway surrounding the garden space is the central ring of administrative buildings, with lecture theatres and laboratories forming two outer arcs. The radial form of the complex fulfils the client requirement that the first phase of construction should complete the physical heart of the university, without carrying the characteristics of a building site for years to come. It further retains the advantages of reduced walking distances and a propensity to absorb future needs on the periphery. The first phase, conceived and built within 5 years, can accommodate some 5 000 students whilst the development plan allows for growth to 15 000 students or more.

Design, documentation and construction were set to strenuous time limits, requiring fast track execution. This was achieved by the erection of buildings with large unencumbered spans, to which the facilities could be fitted as the programme became known. An extraordinary degree of flexibility and growth potential was thus provided.

The complex represents a pioneering landmark in university planning in terms of the design and provision of academic facilities. The technology of post tension off shutter concrete was contemporary with international developments at the time. Several innovative concepts were introduced into the design of the library in the form of the hollow air-floor, hanging bookshelves and a computerised electronic control system. The laboratories pioneered a maximum flexibility concept in the form of horizontal interstitial service zones between floors.