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