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Johannesburg Waterways

Part 1 Project 2002
Desrae Dunn
Theodora Tatsidou
University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg South Africa
The waterways project started with an understanding of the turbulent and seasonal nature of the rivers in our city. Flash flooding and the perceived danger of open land has left the rivers as a neglected asset that could become a green network through our city. With twenty students we proposed a series of linking activities and programmes along the Juskei River.

The site I chose was within walking distance of residential areas of different income groups. There was three health institutions established on the greater site, which is also the largest government owned indigenous grassland left in Central Johannesburg. The programme for the site was a direct response to the existing conditions and attempted to add meaning and a new outlook on nature and the river as an asset to the surrounding communities, institutions and schools.

The building became the starting point for the intervention. It is a small building that highlights the natural and invites engagement and a rich and intimate experience with it. Through engaging with nature and using is through recreation one would not merely be a spectator and a tourist, but develop a sense of ownership as a community for the river and nature. The building is a response to nature and yet the large manicured green grass of the ramp is to be a visual element that can be seen from the freeway and surrounding suburbs. These gestures hope to transcend fashion and rather create a sense of place and memory in a suburban sprawl.

Desrae Dunn
Theodora Tatsidou


This project was the result of an exploration of the system of seasonal streams and waterways that weave through the Johannesburg landscape. Many of these are canalized or fenced off, publicly inaccessible and forgotten. Students were invited to think them as an environmental resource and as way of re-structuring the city.

This student discovered, in the course of her exploration, a site at the convergence of two such streams, surrounded by one of the only remaining tracts of indigenous grasslands left in the city. Her building highlights and accentuates her experience of discovering the site by framing views and walks around and through it. Its programme is for a small environmental resource center – exhibition and auditorium space. It makes use of natural materials and technologies – stone, clay bricks, timber, sun, air movement, water etc. to structure a poetic interpretation of the site itself.

2002
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