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JOHN MOFFAT COMPETITION

This extension to an academic faculty is shaped by student and staff movement through, into and past the building. The proposed volume, containing teaching and admin spaces, also functions as a 2nd façade and public entrance to an existing ensemble of buildings.

The design for the School of Construction Economics and Management (CEM) building on the Wits University campus called for a sustainable, didactic building to be built on a highly trafficked, constrained site directly in front of the architecture studios, creating a greater built environment precinct within the university.

In responding to the site the ground plane of the new Construction Economics and Management (CEM) Annex is conceived as a social plane activated and shaped by the movement of people. Gathering areas, seating and soft landscaping as well as a bar tucked underneath the rising auditorium programme this generous ‘free space’.

The southern facade of the building is clad in a lightweight skin, its pattern derived from the 1950’s mosaic spandrels of the original John Moffat building. This ‘public skin’ is a light and permeable scaffold, a translucent, pixellated veil branding the CEM building as part of the John Moffat Complex but at the same time identifying it as a contemporary addition.

By allowing for changes which might need to be made during the building’s life span, we aspire to a hardwearing beautalism (beauty + brutal practicality) which is ennobled by the presence of people and the marks they leave, is filled with light and characterised by a generosity of space and scale.

The entire roof-scape of the complex is treated as an educational and experimental power generating landscape accessed from the new building with existing water bodies used in a heat exchange system.

Project team: Thorsten Deckler, Anne Graupner, Guy Trangos, Nzinga Biegueng Mboup,
Philippa Frowein

Engineering input: John Truter, WSP

Model photographed by Nic Huisman