Since February this year members of the heritage lobby have been attending meetings with the Department of Public Works discussing the development of the Marshall Street Police Barracks and the site they call 85 Anderson Street. We were more than sceptical at the first meeting, became even more suspicious when no heritage architect was appointed, so only at the final meeting on 18th May did we accept their bona fides and really enjoy the discussions.
Yasmin Mayat of Mayat Hart Architects has been appointed as the heritage architect. She laid down the law very firmly and we certainly intend supporting her whenever possible. So anyone who has photographs of the Marshall Street Police Barracks and the small buildings on the site before the fire please send them in and let us scan them.
Old images of the Marshall Street Barracks (FJ Henley)
Bhavid of Creative Axis architects presented the design for the two new office buildings, one of which will be entirely new in form in that area. No pretense or pastiche. They relate in some respects to the old, but with the freedom Norman Foster claimed for the Hearst Tower in New York these buildings will stand out in Marshallstown as unashamedly 21st Century.
Space is created between the old and new recalling the parade ground which was the breathing space behind the barracks building. In fact the 9 storeyed eastern “barrel” block is scooped out to bring in more light. The ground floor opens possibilities for café/canteen, breakaway area and rest area from the gym. I predict it might prove a more human area for queuing as one does so often outside government buildings.
Transparency has been an important quality in sharp contrast to the old military building. Bhavid has created a transparent connection between Marshall and Anderson Street which we support as it extends the link through to Gandhi Square. The central atrium which links the two office buildings underlines this quality which is a principle fundamental to our constitution.
Marshall Street Barracks in February 2015 (The Heritage Portal)
At street level the upper range of the new blocks will be seen, but floating above rather than emerging directly from the rooftop of the Barracks building.
More difficult to manage is the retention of the old wall on Anderson Street which is also the façade with vehicular access to the underground parking.
Overall this is very good news! We’ll have a professionally researched report on the site, the restoration which will include some reconstruction of the old and rather fine neo-Colonial building, possibly the commemoration of elements which may be significant of the two old buildings which will be demolished; a small display of any artefacts and photographs providing a history of the site – and two astonishing new public buildings which should make the civil servants inside more civil due to the exciting environment. Oh yes. The new buildings will certainly have to meet green standards.
Congratulations to Lerato Lenong (Project Manager) and her team.
Flo Bird and Herbert Prins - May 2015
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