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The architecturally innovative //hapo building at Freedom Park in Pretoria.

If 2010 was the year of big sporting stadiums and 2011 the year of the Gautrain, what can location scouts expect from Gauteng in 2012? We survey developments from across the province that will add more “perfect locations” to Gauteng’s already impressive array of urban settings.

If it is iconic, contemporary architecture you are looking for, then the opening of a major interpretation centre at Freedom Park, on the edge of the Pretoria CBD, is probably as good as it gets. The //hapo Museum, scheduled to open to the public this year, is justifiably regarded as a major new architectural addition to the skyline of the capital city. The building has already been featured in the influential UK design publication, Wallpaper*. The centre is composed of a group of asymmetrical buildings on different levels that symbolise a cluster of boulders evoking the African landscape. Strikingly, the building is clad in copper. Beautifully landscaped pathways and gardens surround it.

Once it opens the centre will provide an interactive exhibition space, which will convey a rich history of 3.6-billion years to visitors. The permanent exhibitions will be structured around social spaces that will allow for live interpretation, performance and storytelling. The //hapo building complements other facilities already open to the public including a traditionally inspired memorial (Isivivane), a Wall of Remembrance (S’khumbuto) and a high-level hospitality suite (Moshate). For more information visit the Freedom Park website.

Also in Tshwane, 2012 will see the ongoing development of a major commercial node in the east of the city at Menlyn. Menlyn Maine will be a mixed-use precinct bound by Atterbury, Garsfontein and General Louis Botha roads extending to the N1 highway. When completed it will offer office space, retail facilities, residential accommodation, hotels, parklands and other leisure and recreation facilities. Menlyn Maine will be serviced by a state-of-the-art Ethernet metropolitan network, which requires the installation of a fibre-optic grid and backbone throughout the precinct. This, paired with a fourth-generation wireless network, will allow for virtually plug-and-play connectivity for all the buildings.

One of the prime buildings at Menlyn Maine will be the planned Nedbank regional office of 16 000m2, housing a thousand employees in a multi storey building. The building is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2012. Menlyn Maine is one of the initial global projects striving towards becoming climate positive – a project of the Clinton Climate Initiative and the US Green Building Council. For more information visit www.menlynmaine.co.za.

The official opening of the Dinokeng Game Reserve took place on 22 September 2011. Among others, lion, elephant, rhino and leopard have to date been successfully introduced to the reserve and it is anticipated that buffalo will be released at Dinokeng shortly. This will result in Gauteng possessing a Big Five Game Reserve within its borders. Dinokeng is situated in the northeast quadrant of the province and covers approximately 281 000ha of rural land incorporating Roodeplaat, Cullinan, Rayton and open bushveld north of the Moloto Road (R573). The project aims to promote economic growth, job creation and social upliftment through conserving and developing the historical, natural and cultural heritage of the area. For more information visit www.dinokengbig5.com.

Nearing the end of its construction phase, the Soweto Theatre will form the cultural nerve-centre of the Jabulani CBD in Soweto. The complex will consist of several performance spaces, parkland, public art and other amenities. The multipurpose performing arts centre will be used for theatre, music and dance productions and will stage festivals and choral singing. The venue will also be used for conferences, meetings and community gatherings. The Soweto Theatre will incorporate the existing Jabulani amphitheatre. Other facilities will include:

  • A 420-seater main venue with an end stage, fully provided with wings, orchestra pit, fly tower and buttress;
  • Two smaller black box venues of 180 and 90 seats;
  • An indoor foyer area which connects all three venues;
  • Multilevel change rooms, storage rooms and a greenroom; and
  • An outdoor covered plaza, which will serve as an additional informal performing space.

Plans are in place to launch the theatre on Africa Day (25 May 2012). For the latest news on the Soweto Theatre visit www.joburg.org.za/culture.

Also in Soweto, work is proceeding on the redevelopment of the decommissioned Orlando Power Station. Orlando Ekhaya will offer mixed-use residential, commercial, retail and leisure amenities. The project – a partnership between the City of Johannesburg, the Johannesburg Property Company and the private sector – is the largest development of its kind in Soweto. The iconic Orlando cooling towers will form part of what is envisaged as a new entertainment precinct. Ultimately, the development will comprise of a business and tourism space, a waterfront park, 30 000m2 of commercial and retail space and 60ha open space and conservation development. Residential units will ensure a resident community. Work currently underway includes:

  • The conversion of the old power station building into a 32 000m2 shopping centre;
  • Upgrading of the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus;
  • Construction of 1 000 up-market townhouses;
  • Construction of an entertainment centre using the iconic towers;
  • Conversion of old hostel buildings into family units; and
  • Redevelopment of the dam into a ‘world class public space’.

For more information visit www.jhbproperty.co.za.

Elsewhere in Johannesburg, the ongoing development and regeneration of the Cultural Arc incorporating Braamfontein and Newtown continues apace.

Braamfontein is fast emerging as one of the city’s trendiest neighbourhoods, anchored by the fashionable urban chic of Juta Street with its shops, restaurants, galleries, loft apartments, bars, offices and, more recently, the Braamfontein Neighbourgoods Market becoming a hunting ground for urban aficionados, hipsters and students. Close by, the impressive new Wits Art Museum is scheduled to open in May 2012. The Museum, located on the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Jorissen Street, will house Wits University’s priceless collection of African art – a collection of 9 000 artworks spanning the entire continent. The Museum will have six world-class exhibition spaces, research and teaching facilities, storage facilities and event and administrative facilities. For more information visit the Wits Art Museum website, or its Facebook page.

Across the Nelson Mandela Bridge, Newtown – already a favoured filming location – is seeing much-needed urban TLC. Fresh on the heels of the upgrade of Mary Fitzgerald Square comes two exciting commercial developments. The development of The Majestic and the Newtown Junction has both commenced. The Majestic will comprise retail and office space while Newtown Junction, to be situated on the site of the historic Potato Shed behind Museum Africa and the Market Theatre, will house a hotel, restaurants and cinema theatres. These developments are expected to be completed in late 2012. For more Newtown and Braamfontein news visit www.newtown.co.za and www.braamfontein.org.za.

2012 will also see the opening of the last station to open on the Gautrain network at Park Station. Nearby, a world-class health and research facility at the Hillbrow Health Precinct is under construction on the site of the old Hillbrow Hospital. 2012 will similarly bring the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system to Rissik Street in the inner city (a number of new BRT stations have already been constructed), while Rissik Street will hopefully see further restoration work being carried out on the old Post Office building – one of Joburg’s most significant historic landmarks sadly gutted by fire in 2009. (The fountain opposite the Post Office was restored to its former glory in late 2011 and is now flowing again. Restoration work will also be carried out on the façade of the historic City Hall in the next few months.)

Elsewhere in the inner city, the Kempston Group has announced that Ponte City – the infamous block of flats – will finally be revamped. The tower is the city’s second highest building and tallest residential structure. (This news may not appeal to director Danny Boyle, whose name has been attached to a film project called Ponte Tower – a thriller to be set in the 54-storey cylindrical building.) For more inner city news visit the City of Johannesburg official website.

Moving to the northern suburbs, Sandton – South Africa’s leading business, financial, residential and retail node – is home to the development of the Sandton Central Park on the corner of Grayston and Sandton Drives. Sponsored by Standard Bank the park will officially be opened in April 2012. Phase 1 of the project will comprise of an amphitheatre, sculptured garden areas, benches, a children's play area and the planting of additional indigenous trees. Added to this will be a jogging trail, well-paved pathways and secure parking. For more information visit www.sandtoncentral.co.za.

While Sandton dominated 2011 with the launch of the redeveloped Sandton City by Liberty Properties and the opening of iconic new addresses such as 15 Alice Lane, 2012 will see the completion of Phase 3 of Melrose Arch consisting of 110 new luxury apartments. In Rosebank, the year will similarly see commencement of the R900-million redevelopment of The Mall of Rosebank and Rosebank Gardens, while Standard Bank will take occupation of its new campus in the Rosebank CBD, further strengthening the swanky new Oxford Road strip. Elsewhere, Brian Green, force behind 44 Stanley Ave in Milpark, will launch his latest development at 3 Desmond Street in Kramerville in early 2012.