A new Council Chamber, filled with modern African colours and textures, references the past whilst thrusting towards the modern.
The Germiston Civic Centre, originally won in competition by Meyer Pienaar, was planned as a civic facility with the main functions of a council chamber and mayor’s accommodation, as well as a library, theatre, clinic, community hall and art gallery.
The theatre and art gallery never materialised as planned and the building emerged as an architectural expression of modern design through sculptural shapes and horizontal lines with generous circulation spaces.
The Germiston Civic Centre was selected as the site for the new Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Headquarters in 2002, and Co-Arc was given the opportunity to revisit a building that had suffered from the side-effects of semi-completion and diversion from its initial intended use.
The new Council Chamber retained the existing exterior aesthetic to reference the local context of Germiston, as initially intended, and as a reference to the past – in terms of the rich mining history of Germiston, echoed by the golden face brick. The political transformation of South Africa is expressed in the making of the new chamber, which replaced an old community hall. The interior, however, serves as a contrast to the past and provides a new thrust with modern African and regional themes. The chamber reflects a palette of African colour, texture and spatial interpretation within the context of a modern building.
In effect, the finishes of the chamber are a palette that recalls the full natural/industrial contrasts, the full cycle from the raw materials of South Africa to industrially beneficiated end products of a modern country.