Students are stepping in to redesign the hub of social life on east-campus, which aims to turn the food court into the ‘heart of Wits’.
Final-year undergraduate students from the school of architecture and planning at Wits are working on a year-long project named the “Matrix Re-Imagined”, where they will be redesigning the food court.
The project, which started this year, comes after tenants and users of the Matrix on east campus complained about the building not being user friendly.
The task is aimed at rethinking how the space can be better utilised, instead of rebuilding a new building. It is not a campaign by the university management but stems from calls from tenants themselves, who spoke with lecturers in the architecture department to ask for a process of brainstorming a way to improve the way in which the space is used.
Believing that this would be a perfect practical application of what the students have learnt; the department developed the project into this year’s curriculum.
“[What we have gathered is that] there is a problem – the Matrix is not functioning properly,” said Wits school of architecture and planning lecturer Sandra Felix.
“Students are the largest stakeholders of the use of the buildings on campus,” said Felix. This project will bring in completely different ideas than it would if the university were to bring in outside architects for the design.”
Students have a lot of answers we [external architects] don’t have” she added.
The project is currently in its research phase – and so far, students have interviewed both tenants and users of the space and found various prevalent issues of practicality.
According to third-year architecture student Kyara De Gouveia, the issues found include having “bad entrances” which results in people flooding the area, narrow passages, and impractical locations for some of the vendors. For example, the clinic is located downstairs, making it difficult for those with mobility issues to access it.
Bookseller at Campus Bookshop, Lebogang Rabothata described the current composition of the Matrix as “impractical” due to extremely tight entrances which results in a large congestion. She hopes for a redesign which allows users to be relaxed and use the space for “reading and studying”.
As yet, there are plans to move all student office space (including clubs that are currently located by the science stadium and the Voice of Wits [VOW FM] which currently finds itself on the ninth floor of university corner) into the area; and making the space more student friendly with open study areas, and better connections to both the library lawns and the amphitheater.
Later in the year, the students will exhibit their work and designs to university stakeholders and tenants. Based on their presentation, the university will then decide if they will adopt their redesigns.
Students working on the project said they are aiming to make the Matrix the “heart of [student life at] Wits”.
In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela, third-year architecture student Tshegofatso Mashile described the project as being pressure filled, yet exciting due to the opportunities it presents. “[This is] the beginning of every architect’s dream” she said.
Another architecture student, Milan Prioreschi, said that this project is extremely motivational as it bridges the gap between university work and practical work outside. “We are getting real life experience for the first time”.
If implemented, the improvements will form part of the university’s much larger “Building Impact Beyond 100” campaign, which was launched in celebration of Wits’ centenary in 2022. The campaign aims to raise funds which will be directed towards teaching, research, scholarships, student support, student experiences and campus improvements; R2,5 billion of its R3 billion target has been raised so far.
FEATURED: A busy stairway during lunchtime leading to the entrances of the Matrix. Photo: Seth Thorne
Joburgers are serious about going green, it’s not just the latest fad. It’s an alternative hipster lifestyle that separates the the cool peeps from the (global) warmers. It’s safe to say Joburg is not just a pretty city, its an environmentally sensitive zone. And green is definitely the new black in the city of gold. Its going greener everyday and most of the city’s inhabitants embracing global cooling in very cool ways.
Many cool peeps in Jozi wear vintage or second hand clothing. Thrift markets are popping up everywhere and Joburgers love them because they are affordable and trendy. Thrifting allows styles to be shared and limits to be broken. At such affordable prices, why not.
Shopping the green way
Shopping malls are getting greener and greener, one such space is 27Boxes. This mall is made of shipping containers, it has an edgy and sleek look that will make any shopper happy to spend money there.
SHOPPING THE GREEN WAY: Jozi shoppers, enjoy shopping the environmentally friendly way. Photo: Michelle Gumede
Snazzy shopping bags
Reusable shopping bags can be seen hanging off the shoulders of the trendiest peeps in Joburg, from celebrities to ordinary Witsies. These bags are fashionable and eco friendly- made from recycled materials.
GEORGEOUS RUBBISH: Trendy shopping bags made from recyclable materials are hot in Jozi. Photo: Michelle Gumede
All naturelle body care
Earth friendly body products are the “in” thing for the ladies of Joburg. The Africology range of beauty products is popular because not only is it cheap but they use natural ingredients to make their lathering body creams and scrubs. Having started their company in Johannesburg, the brand can now be found in hotels and spas across the world.
Healthy eating is healthy living
Most peeps in Joburg enjoy eating healthy because ‘green’ food is no longer rabbit food. Restaurants like Kauai are creating tasty and trendy meals for the everyday person. They have awesome smoothies made from “super foods’ which are healthy fruits and veggies that give you a boost when you need it.
Everything is going digital! The postal office is becoming an endangered species because Jozi is going digital. Even students get their fees statements online, people are shopping online, even cabs like Uber are using the digital space to do business.
In a bid to reduce paper usage, internet in Johannesburg has gone viral! Everyone uses internet, for EVERYTHING from online shopping to online school fees statements. According to the City of Joburg, internet usage has trebbled to over 12 million since the year 2000. Nine of the 12 major internet service providers listed Internet Service Providers Association by are based right here in Jozi.
Banks like Nedbank are committed to climate change through their Corporate Social Investment programs. As a a signatory to the Carbon Disclosure Project, Nedbank received an A-minus rating for transparency and performance. This bank is leading in sustainable business practices as their policy is strongly focused on climate change issues and sustainable banking.
51% of Jozi buildings in the commercial sector are expected to be going green by the end of 2015 according to the McGraw and Hills World. There are long term financial benefits to going green for corporate companies including increased rental rates and asset value, reduced risk of depreciation, and higher tenant attraction and retention rates. The Green Building Council South Africa uses a green star rating system to determine how environmentally friendly buildings are built and operated.
The WWF Building in Braamfontein is one of the most cutting edge green buildings in Jozi, they have their own water purification system, light sensitive blinds and the building itself is made up of reused material.
In an initiative to reduce carbon emmissions, the City of Joburg has embarked on a campaign to promote cycling in the city. Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau launched Cycle week in March to demonstrate the city’s commitment to cycling.
Designated cycle lanes have been set up to allow for cyclists to travel safely. Cyling lanes are patrolled and monitored by a patrol unit which is set up by the Metro Police. 31 people have been fined for parking in the cycle lanes while six cars have been impounded. Other forms of public transport like the Gautrain and the Rea vaya rapid bus system contribute to lower carbon emissions in the city.
CYCLING IN THE CITY: Joburgers love cycling and our Mayor Parks Tau agrees. Photo: Michelle Gumede
The arbor city
Johannesburg is an arbor city which means that majority of the trees found in the city are planted. If there were no humans were settled here then there would literally be no trees in this semi arid space. Arbor week is celebrated from 1- 7 September every year.
EVER GREEN CITY: Luscious plants cover every corner of Johannesburg. Photo: Michelle Gumede
Eco friendly vehicles can be spotted all over Johannesburg. These cars emit less harmful fumes into the environment and have a positive
The Nissan Leaf, the Toyota Prius and the Porche Panamera S e-Hybrid are some of the popular environmentally friendly cars around. The Nissan Leaf for instance runs on electricity and its laminated lithium ion batteries can be charged at home or at any other electrical station. It has zero emissions and a low internal combustion engine allowing it to reach high speeds. The Eco mobility world festival is currently happening in Johannesburg until the end of the month.
ECO DRIVING: Earth friendly cars can be spotted across the city. Photo: Provided
Businesses reducing their carbon footprint
Energy saving measures are business as usual as retailers like Woolworths. By using Energy efficient store lighting, natural gas refrigeration and solar power theyre business model is built around the concept of being green. Their farming for the future initiative is a campaign to save water and have less chemical runoff through their farms. Fabric suppliers also adhere to high standards of sustainability when it comes to dyes, materials and chemicals.
RESPONSIBLE BUSINESSES: Sustainability is a large part of most businesses in Jozi. Photo: Michelle Gumede
Schools going green
Schools in Johannesburg are going green by planting veggie gardens. Today’s primary school students, like those of Sunward Park use the digital medium to interact with learning material. saving paper saving the trees!!
GREEN KIDS: Vegetable gardens can be spotted at many Joburg schools. Children in Jozi are enthusiastic about saving our planet. Photo: Michelle Gumede
Is big business in Jozi for both the rich and the homeless. This trend is one that helps the homeless in Jozi make ends meet while businesses get to enjoy the long term benefits of responsible recycling.
SMART CITY DWELLERS: Recycling helps homeless people make extra money in Joburg. Photo: Michelle Gumede
RECYCLE, REDUCE, REUSE: Joburgers dispose dangerous batteries in safe and environmentally friendly ways. Local supermarkets put out these boxes to assist communal recycling. Photo: Michelle Gumede
Residential spaces like Alexandra township have taken to installing solar geysers in their homes. This has resulted in lower electricity bills and of course a greener city.
GREEN HOUSEHOLDS: Many homes in the city supplement their electricity supply with solar power. Photo: Michelle Gumede
Chill out spots are greener than ever
The city has dedicated a whole department to oversee the 20 000 hectres of green open spaces that hosts over 2000 recreational parks, cemeteries and botanical gardens.
Currently, the Zoo has 326 species consisting of 2 096 specimens housed within 54ha area. The collection consist of 20 Amphibia (Frogs), 5 Arachnida (Spiders), 128 Aves (Birds), 47 Reptilia (Reptiles), 25 Osteichthyes (Pisces- Fish) and 101 Mammalia (Mammals).parks. this includes botanical gardens, the city zoo and cemetaries.
GREEN PUBLIC SPACES: Johannesburg has a variety of places like the Johannesburg Zoo, where people of all ages can hangout and spend time close to nature. photo: Provided
The way Joburgers are so serious about going green, even the financial hub of Africa, Sandton City, is shutting down for the entire duration of October to cut down emissions. The EcoMobility World festival and exhibition is an initiative that aims to close down all roads. Only public transport, cyclists and pedestrians are allowed to use the streets.
ECO MOBILITY IN THE CITY: The streets of Sandton, the economic hub of Jozi, will be shut down in October. In a bid to cut down harmful emissions caused by heavy traffic. Photo: Provided
Woolworths Urban fashion store RE: has mannequins that are made from recycled materials. Now if that is not eco friendly then, what is?
EARTH FRIENDLY FASHION: Looking good and taking care of the environment are not mutually exclusive concepts in Johannesburg. Photo: Provided
Enough talk about green talk, Joburgers LOVE a bit of color!
BOILING HOT: Braamfontein’s Boiler Room showcases work by students and up and coming designers and architects. Photo: provided
A small, dark room in a Braamfontein alley is opening spaces and places for lovers of architecture and design.
The Boiler Room is part of the Alive Architecture initiative, located down an alley just off Melle Street, opposite the Neighbourgoods Market. It serves as a space for architecture students and upcoming architects to showcase their work at no cost.
In the first six weeks of its opening, the room had over 1200 visitors, and is becoming known as a space for innovation according to the owners.
Alive Architecture as an architectural gallery was developed in September 2011 and it now has a home in Braamfontein in as of December 2013. The studio that now houses this innovative space is about 25 square metres is a small dark room. The space has a boiler for the building, which is above it in one corner, hence its name The Boiler Room.
The owner Pieter-Ernst Maré – along with Simon Cretney – says that the room caters specifically for students, upcoming architects and designers because this group does not get the chance to showcase as much as developed designers and architects.
“We felt that the smaller designers don’t get enough exposure to the general public,” said Maré.
Maré says that when the concept was drawn up in 2011 there weren’t many showrooms that were available for these marginalised groups to showcase their work for free.
Maré, who is a blogger and architect, says they look at proposals for the use of the space and choose a variety of ideas so the public can get a range of skills, trades and art exhibited in the space.
“We really don’t mind what our tenants do with the space – as long as we get it back like we gave it to them, so that the next exhibitor can step in and showcase with the minimum of fuss and expense in setting themselves up,” said Maré.
He said that many people do not understand the architecture industry. The Alive Architecture initiatives through The Boiler Room aims to educate the public about the work that goes into designing homes and work spaces.
Maré says the initiative wants to show that “architecture isn’t just about keeping water out of a space, that landscape architecture is not about picking the right petunia colour and that interior architecture is not about scatter cushions and curtains”. It’s an exploration of materials, ideas and philosophies that translate into a space, he says.
Maré says they hope to expand and showcase South African talent in other parts of the country in the near future.
LADIES OF THE NIGHT SAFE: The trio of architects stand with their new invention at International Union of Architects in Durban in hope to save sex workers. Photo: Provided
THE WORLD’s oldest—and one of its most dangerous—profession might become safer thanks to a new invention by a trio of Wits students.
Third-year architectural students Lamy Subira, Yoliswa Dlamini and Andre-Juan le Sueur began working on the project in April this year as part of an assignment to improve the day-to-day activities of street traders.
“We spoke to the sex workers, we were really made aware of the safety issues. It was a natural step really, a really easy way to ensure safety,” said Subira. The students created a wristband that would connect to a structure which Subira described as “street furniture” with a Wi-Fi router.
“We spoke to the sex workers, we were really made aware of the safety issues. It was a natural step really, a really easy way to ensure safety,” said Subira.
Sex workers will be able to clock-in at the start of their shift to an organisation with an existing database for sex workers. “It’s more than a device, we are architectural students after all. It’s an intervention,” said Subira.
The device would protect sex workers registered in the system in a “disguised way” where they would log in once they’re in the radius of the Wi-Fi network where the wristband can work. The wristband has four buttons where they can pick one of four options – on-line, offline, jump and panic.
‘On-line’ shows that the sex workers have clocked in their shift, ‘offline’ means that they have finished working, ‘jump’ means that they are with a client and ‘panic’ is when they are in a potentially dangerous situation.
Registration to the device includes the creation of login details which would alert the organisations once they are in the area of the Wi-Fi router.
“It’s an intervention, social and architectural that consists of a piece of street furniture which meets a security system and social awareness,” Subir said.
The device will improve the safety of sex workers who want to trade without worrying for their safety. The students agreed that “it was absolutely based on their immediate issues.
“Their safety is their primary concern but that stems from ranging issues. They face a lot of stigma that manifests in so many different ways; nurses refusing them healthcare, police brutalising them, the general public pushing them to the outskirts of society.”
“One thing we learnt is that not all sex workers in the trade chose to do such under difficult circumstances, they don’t always choose it under duress,” said Subir.
The students are currently presenting their device at the International Union of Architects in Durban.
The strange looking structures you may have passed while walking in the John Moffat building are straight from the minds of Wits’ own architecture students.
The Yeoville Studio exhibition is a showcase of the work done by the school of architecture and planning. Dr Claire Benit- Gbaffou, director of the Yeoville studio programme says one of the main themes of the exhibition involves informal trading.
A scale of Rockey and Raleigh Streets
“[It’s about] how it contributes to an integrated society and how it could be better managed and integrated,” she says. Other themes include aspects of living in Yeoville such as buildings and stories about people’s lives.
“[It’s] a place where people meet, fall in love, grow, mobilise and find part of their identity,” says Benit- Gbaffou.
The models on display in the John Moffat building are designed by architecture students. They are designed with Rockey and Raleigh Streets, the main streets in Yeoville in mind. “Some are proposing street vending stalls, adapted to the needs of street traders,” says Benit-Gbaffou.
The school of architecture and planning worked with organisations within the Yeoville community for two years. “About 300 students, from second year to PhD, have been involved in Yeoville research projects.”
A model depicting a "rack shop"
Data collection, interviews, posters and workshops were part of these research projects.
“We thought it was nice also to expose the Wits community to the work we have been doing,” says Benit- Gbaffou. The director says she hopes to do exhibitions in other parts of Johannesburg, “as a great teaching and learning opportunity for students and also as Wits’ contribution to the broader society”.
The exhibition runs until this Friday, February 24.
The architects suggest that this model is a "2-in-1 shop"
In this episode we take a look at the work of Joburg Theatre, through the eyes of the people that work at there. Justine, who has been at the theatre for more than 20 years, walks us through its history, and Mbongeni, a ballet dancer, tells us how he came to make this beautiful theatre […]