LILIAN NGOYI SQUARE
Urban design to re-anchor the commercial and cultural hub of the City of Pretoria in Lillian Ngoyi Square.
In 2006, on the 50th anniversary of the Women’s March against apartheid, the old market square of the capital city was rededicated and named after the Women’s leader, Lilian Ngoyi, and redevelopment of the square around a women’s memorial was proposed and initiated.
Based on historical research and multi-layered contextual analyses, Co-Arc envisaged Lilian Nygoyi Square as a large civic space, anchored by a pedestrian spine extending to Church Square. The square and women’s memorial extend the cultural precinct, anchored by the opera, theatre, library and several heritage buildings. The square is also defined by its origins as a market square and still remains an inner-city retail hub.
Co-Arc’s urban design development guidelines for commercial properties across the streets propose co-opting the land owners to turn these edges into vibrant activity zones animated by restaurants, high-end retail and vividly illuminated displays. The aim is to re-anchor the commercial and cultural hub of the city in a dramatic and celebratory way, akin to Times Square in New York. It would counterbalance the rearward view of memorialisation with a future-oriented reclamation of civic space brought to life by social, cultural and economic interaction of the citizens.
Following Co-Arc’s formal presentation of the urban design, Gauteng Province appointed a team of architects who designed a memorial building that has taken on board several of the proposed concepts for the site.