Students live it up in container homes

Mill Junction-5

Mill Junction in Newtown is an example of creative, low cost housing in the city. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Distinctive green and red rectangles and circles that can be seen from miles away are part of a new off-campus residential building for students.

Built on 25-year grain silos, the low-cost, environmentally friendly and close-proximity living space known as Mill Junction has quickly become an iconic building in Newtown.

Turning the old into new

The residence is at its core made from the abandoned grain silos and re-purposed shipping containers.  An interesting exploration of architectural creativity and ingenuity, which provides affordable housing to students.

The diverse colour palate on the exterior of the building bleeds into its interior, which each of the 14 floors of the 40 million rand building painted a different colour to add to its overall “funk”.

CEO of Citiq Property, Paul Lapman, explained that there are ten silos in total, two rows of five which go up ten floors, the remaining top four floors are made from shipping containers. “We’ve actually used the inside of the silos to lay out the corridors, put the lifts in, put the stairs in and everything else,” he added.

The middlemost silos on each floor are painted a different colour and host a different recreational area – every second floor has a communal TV room, others are study rooms, computer rooms and one is a gym. Along with this each floor is fitted with two communal kitchens, communal bathrooms and private bathrooms for those who need their privacy.

Up in the air

After a year of construction, the building signed up between 260 and 270 of the 374 spaces available within their first month of opening, the top most floors filling up first because of the exceptional city views provided by the skyscraper. The huffing and puffing from walking up the 14 floors with Lapham abated as soon as the panoramic beauty of Johannesburg came into view.


A view from the eastern most side on Mill Junction’s rooftop. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

The rooftop is still a work in progress but when it is done it will provide students with a rooftop braai area and another space to socialise – fitting considering the boom of rooftops as social spaces in the inner city at the moment.

Green living

The motion sensor lights, magnetic stoves and double glazed windows are some of Mill Junction’s environmentally conscious elements. “We’ve sourced quite a lot of the materials from China,” leaving them with enough money to provide energy efficient facilities said Lapham.

Making use of the old silos was also another “green” feature, Lapham said they could have easily chosen to knock down the silos and build from scratch but they had chosen to “preserve some of Joburg’s history and do something different”.