The Metro Centre Piazza is set to become the “town crier” for those who live and work in the surrounds of Braamfontein, just north of the City itself. Gone is the concrete Metro Centre Precinct softened now by the new and majestic Council Chambers allowing space for a new and modern Piazza..
Built between 1973-1977, the Metro Centre island was built to separate residential Hillbrow from the business centre of Braamfontein. With residential on one side and business on the other, it’s design created a barrier that dared any pedestrian to dodge the traffic that was uncharacteristically split from a one way into a partial two way. This made it difficult for any out of town or rural driver to understand how to traverse this concrete island.
With the introduction of the Metro Centre Piazza this area now has a chance to develop into not only a pedestrian friendly area but also an area where the community at large can relax and enjoy the Highveld sunshine whenever possible. Be it to stop and have a sandwich at lunch time or simply walk through from one place to another taking in the changing Jozi skyline.
With a new and flexible design, this space can be transformed to suit the changing seasons or events that invite the community to mix and relax in a friendly environment with the whole family. The Piazza also allows for daily use and weekend chill sessions. A large outdoor digital screen will not only showcase the speaker sessions in the newly built Council Chambers above, but will also screen features of national interest such as soccer, world news and on the odd night, a movie under the stars.
The Council Chambers gives shade from the harsh sun during summer and softens the winter rays through the additional use of specifically placed trees and seat planters on the rainbow paved walkways. Reminiscent of the “long walk to freedom” as experienced by Nelson Mandela when he left prison after 27 years. Ironically the launch of the Piazza comes 23 years after President Mandela exited the voting station on the 27th April 1994 with the words “We are starting a new era of hope, reconciliation and nation-building”.
Shaped along with those walkways, is the creative element of a skate park, outdoor chess set and table tennis. A large outdoor gym in the surrounding gardens are a great way to walk the talk for those wishing to expend unused energy or warm up before a run through the safe walkway. All of these features coming into being during Phase One.
Designed around a community element that is now fast becoming a true sign of merging Johannesburg, solar street lighting forms part of the 5 Star Green award already received for this new eco friendly island. Charging stations and free Wifi for the fast growing mobile friendly generation is scheduled for Phase Two to ensure that no sector of the community is excluded.
Reduce, reuse and recycle bins, also part of Phase Two, will be a strong reminder to those using the park to keep the area clean and in keeping with the Green Star Award. Gone are the days when littering was an acceptable practice.
Also forming part of Phase Two is a pergola, which will provide a pleasant and green experience for those enjoying the pavement dining experience as restaurants and pavement cafes open over the next few months. The council dining room will extend into the Piazza and although safely enclosed, it will share the shade and space with this new, community Piazza. The first of many Placemakers earmarked by the Johannesburg Property Company as part of their rejuvenation project.
As the sun sets after a long satisfying day in the Council Chambers, councillors can enjoy the walk to the Gautrain Station on the rainbow pathway, on their way to the worldclass Gautrain station, housed in the nearby Park Station that led the way to these changes that uplift not only our communities but our facilities and our spirits.