Aurecon and DHK Architects transform potato sheds into vibrant public space
Newtown Junction, located in the heart of Johannesburg’s Newtown Precinct, will see long-neglected ‘potato sheds’ transformed into a vibrant, mixed-used development that will comprise a 36,000 sq m shopping centre, 30,000 sq m of office space, a gymnasium, and four levels of basement parking providing 2,400 bays. The development is situated right in the middle of Newtown’s cultural district next to the Museum of Africa and the striking 1913 Edwardian building that was redeveloped into the popular Market Theatre.
Developed by Atterbury Property, Newtown Junction signals both the growth of Johannesburg’s city centre as well as the renewal and revival of the city in a way that preserves its heritage and history. Aurecon played the role of structural engineer on this landmark project, bringing to the table a wealth of knowledge around the complexities of working in the Johannesburg Central Business District environment as well as an ability to ramp up significant project resources at short notice. Construction commenced in October 2012, with completion set for the end of September 2014.
The R1.3-billion development is backed by the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) and has seen the South African Heritage Resources Agency’s (SAHRA) inputs carefully considered, due to the historic nature of the site. Newtown Junction’s retail area includes a portion of the steel warehouses (potato sheds) that were originally designed in 1910 for the purpose of storing vegetables and fodder that were distributed to fresh produce markets across the country by rail.
Stoffel Mentz, Aurecon Project Director and Structural Engineer, said: “The project team, under the guidance of DHK Architects, took particular care in creating a structure that connects the past, present and future with vibrant flair, making it an exciting place for people to work, shop and eat in one of South Africa’s most compelling economic hubs. There are four basement parking levels, two retail levels above the parking as well as three levels dedicated to office space above the retail portion. A portion of the building was constructed under the elevated M1 highway, which required a very unique geometry in order to accommodate the highway piers.
“Some sections of the structure’s roof are only 3-4m below the structure of the M1 highway above. Furthermore, the floor level of the lower retail level is up to 3m below the founding levels of the highway piers and columns. This meant the project team had to isolate construction while building around existing highway piers and columns. What’s more, we had to design lateral support systems to protect the bridge piers, ensure that the safety of motorists was not jeopardised as well as design a roofing system that caters for storm water flooding from the highway in these areas.”