The Booysens Magistrate’s Court creates a grand central public concourse and richly finished courts which privilege the common man in the justice system.
In late 2008, the Department of Justice established the need for a new magistrate’s court in Booysens, to the south of the Johannesburg CBD, to replace the existing under-resourced court. The project was placed on hold in late 2010, owing to a lack of funding, but was revived once again in late 2013 when funding became available.
The building uses its grand central concourse to create a rich public space for gathering and interacting. The court and administrative functions of the building feel secondary, a happy corollary to the public spaces, which privilege the citizens within the justice system. The linear nature of the space draws users from the main entrance towards the court and administrative functions while providing ample space to linger or meet.
Putting people first was foremost in mind during the building design, even when considering the administrative wing and magistrate’s offices. Screened courtyards were used to bring natural light and ventilation to the administrative offices, but mainly to provide comfortable outside gathering and breakaway spaces. The spatial planning of the court also considers the safety and comfort of the magistrates. Their access to the building and offices are kept carefully separate from the public areas to ensure their safety and privacy.
The court stands as a refined, modern piece of architecture, a beacon in the community, and as a sterling example of how a civic building can be delivered on time and under budget, fulfilling all stringent brief requirements, and still be a grand public place.