Arts on Main, Maboneng, Johannesburg
Arts on Main is a mixed-use development which is targeted at Johannesburg’s creative community. It is situated on the eastern end of the Jo’burg CBD and was the start of the establishment of the Maboneng precinct by visionary developer Jonathan Liebmann.
Arts on Main consists of various old, previously dilapidated buildings which have been connected, restored and converted from light industrial to a variety of work, exhibition and recreational spaces for creatives.
The intention of the architectural design was to honour the history and heritage of the original buildings as much as possible by preserving their original architectural character and features, as well as retaining old machinery which bears testament to the buildings’ industrial origins. The architectural additions draw on the industrial language in terms of design and materiality, whilst maintaining a lightness which sets them apart from the original structure. Certain design elements, such as the steel staircase and tower in the garden, act as metaphors for both Johannesburg’s history and its future.
The main entrance on Fox Street draws you into a garden, the first of a series of public areas around which the individual spaces are centered. The garden forms the main public focus of Arts on Main, with the restaurant and its rooftop bar and various retail and gallery spaces leading onto or overlooking it. The design of the sculptural staircase leading up to the first floor of the original Corlett Construction building alludes to the mining shafts and hence the establishment of Johannesburg. The viewing tower at the top of the staircase frames views of the Hilbrow tower to the north, cars on the highway to the west, and the ‘Main Street Life' sign to the east. The viewing tower acts as a beacon that is visible from the highway, and symbolizes the connection between Arts on Main and the city, and the role of Arts on Main as a catalyst for inner city rejuvenation.
The light roof over the atrium in the south western area of the development allows for natural light and ventilation for the atrium and its surrounding spaces, while acting as a reflective surface for up-lights at night, which reinforces its floating quality. Like all the other public spaces in Arts on Main, the atrium has been designed to act as a platform for art exhibitions and events.