Main Street Life is the transformation of a 1970’s light industrial building into a contemporary & creative mixed use complex. The seven - storey building is located in the Maboneng Precinct, at the eastern edge of the Johannesburg CBD.
The building houses one and two bedroom medium-level apartments, seven penthouses, a twelve room art hotel (12 Decades), and a mix of retail including, shops, launderette, music rehearsal space, independent cinema and a restaurant. The roof, which offers panoramic views of the city, serves as an events and leisure space with a bar, open-air boxing gym, plunge pool and viewing deck.
Each floor of the building is tied to a creative discipline (design, film, fashion, visual arts, architecture). Two common spaces per floor are dedicated to offer creatives, who wish to collaborate, workshop and exhibit areas within the building. All floors will hold temporary exhibitions of their discipline. The 140 one-bedroom apartments and 25 two-bedroom apartments offer the buyer a chance to procure South African furniture design, with the furnished units containing features and pieces by Daffonchio and Associates Architects and Adriaan Hugo of Dokter & Misses.
The architectural challenge lied in designing a complex building in a simple way. Emphasis was placed on ease of circulation and openness. It was important that the design of the building, particularly in the common spaces, allow for creatives to add their own touch to the building. Main Street Life is not a monument - it is a building to be used, changed and challenged by its residents.
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.
The Main Change & OPEN, Maboneng, Johannesburg
A 1970's light industrial building in the Maboneng Precinct has been converted into a mixed use building, consisting primarily of offices which house entrepreneurs and innovators in a collaborative working environment with office spaces between 30 and 140 square meters. The building features a health food rooftop cafe and bar, and ground floor fashion and furniture stores. The Main Change has won the Halala award for 'Working and Buying Johannesburg' and has seen several diverse companies move their businesses to the Johannesburg CBD.
The architectural additions to the facade serve the purpose of passive solar design and ventilation: the new folding stacking aluminium shutters shade the glazing when closed, and can be opened to let in sun and for views over the city. The chimneys serve as extraction for ventilation, and double as a platform for signage for the building.
The facade also features a 5-storey high wrapped mosaic by Hannelie Coetzee, named 'The Change Agent'. It is a photo mosaic made out of unmarked mining core cut into discs, and overlooks the mine dumps to the south of the Johannesburg CBD. The dot by dot artwork symbolises the purpose of the building: to network, to build relationships, and to connect the dots.
The building is also home to OPEN, an innovative 1000 square meter co-working space for start ups and freelancers. As well as being the architects for The Main Change, Daffonchio was appointed separately as the architects for OPEN, designing everything from the layout to the furniture. The concept for OPEN is to be more than just an office. The intention is for OPEN to be a collaborative community of creative and professional people who come together in an inspiring and diverse space where you can expand your mind, meet, network and collaborate.
The main open plan area of OPEN has a putting green in the centre, which doubles up as an auditorium when the sound proof curtains are drawn around it. It also features a long juice and coffee bar opening onto a balcony in the north facing courtyard of the building, a lounge and library, and a table tennis area. The southern and western perimeters of this open area have various flexible areas with views over the south of the city. These can be adapted by means of sliding screens and move-able, modular furniture, so that they can be used as open plan shared office areas or private workshopping areas, meeting rooms or offices. OPEN also has a reception, a printing area, and formal boardrooms.
Fox Street Studios, Maboneng, Johannesburg
Fox Street Studios is a mixed-use development, with restaurants and retail on the ground floor, and residential / studio units above. The building was originally only 4 floors, and each floor above the ground level is dedicated to a single unit. Balconies were added along the northern length of each units, with timber planter boxes acting as the balustrades, with the plants inside screening the balconies for privacy. The timber provides a soft, natural contrast to the industrial black facade. On the ground floor, timber decks have been built in front of the restaurants and shops, allowing the retail to spill out onto the pavement.
A new 2 level penthouse has been constructed on top of the existing building. The external skin of the penthouse is entirely double glazing with black aluminium frames, and the interior structure is black steel with very few internal dividing walls. This gives the exterior a light, transparent, industrial aesthetic, whilst maximising the views over the city to the north and west, and making the internal spaces light and open. The glass facades are set back, allowing for a wrap-around balcony on the lower level on the northern and western sides, a balcony off the bedroom on the top level, and deep overhangs to shade the glazing.
The interior design of the penthouse picks up on the modern, industrial aesthetic by means of a monochromatic palette and the use of steel and copper, whilst introducing warmth with the bamboo floor. The living area in the north western corner is a dramatic double volume space, with a steel spiral staircase leading to the study and bedroom suite on the first floor.
The design of the penthouse proves that urban living can be sophisticated and comfortable, like living in a contemporary villa in the sky.
Craftsmen's Ship, Maboneng, Johannesburg
Craftsmen’s Ship is a mixed use development on Main Street within the Maboneng Precinct. The project combines the refurbishment of an existing light industrial warehouse with two new buildings that sees the site transformed into a mixed use complex with residential units, retail stores, a central courtyard and a pool.
The site has a rich heritage, dating back to 1941. The existing warehouse building, which sits diagonally on the site, was initially designed as an indoor racetrack for whippets. Over the years, as the building changed ownership, the use changed to a vehicle showroom and then to workshop spaces for small artisans and business owners. In 2014, when the Craftsmen’s Ship project was initiated, the existing warehouse and adjacent office buildings were in a derelict state.
The concept driving the alterations and additions to the existing structure was based on the philosophy of using the existing building’s raw and industrial structure as much as possible. The resultant spaces include polished concrete floors, bag washed brick walls and exposed steel trusses within the residential units. Craftsmen’s Ship is a unique development and the first large-scale warehouse conversion within the Maboneng Precinct to date.
Daffonchio has collaborated with acclaimed South African artist Stephen Hobbs on this project. Stephen set in place a ‘dazzle’ concept whereby painted murals containing camouflage patterns disorient perception, resulting in a vast and energetic aesthetic. The concept was then translated into built form, whereby the appearance of each building on site contains a distinct identity and interpretation of the ‘dazzle’ concept.
The Lighthouse Project, Maboneng, Johannesburg
The Lighthouse Project is Daffonchio and Jonathan Liebmann's 'open design' initiative. A series of small international architectural and artistic interventions are located on the facades and rooftops of buildings throughout the precinct, reinforcing the concept of Maboneng as the 'place of light'.
The lighthouse is represented in a conceptual or literal sense. It is a functional beacon that directs visitors to and around Maboneng.
These collaborations have opened the opportunity for artists and architects such as Lot-ek, Kerim Seiler, David Adjaye, Keiji Ashizawa and others to design artworks, installations, and in some cases entire buildings, in the Maboneng precinct.