Rooftops open up Braamfontein


Trees soften the square, providing shade for those using it

Spectacular views from the Randlords bar and lounge

LUSH green gardens, with lounge areas and cocktail bars have been created as recreational spaces on Braamfontein rooftops – and they offer some awesome views of the city’s skyline.

Developers have started a trend to maximise the use of all spaces, including rooftops, as entertainment facilities, especially since Braamfontein is now home to many who work in the area.

Randlords, a bar and lounge, is on the 22nd floor of 41 De Korte Street. Boasting a 360-degree view of the city, it is accessible by an exclusive lift. The indoor area is large and stylish, surrounded by full-length glass windows. It gives fabulous views from all sides. South Point owns the entire building.

Trevor Latimer, the head of the company’s hospitality division, explains that using the open spaces at the company’s buildings was driven by its vision and strategy to rejuvenate Braamfontein and turn the suburb into a desirable place to live.

Randlords’ open-plan space has natural wood floors that have been white-washed; glitzy modern furnishings such as crystal swings; four-poster beanbag day beds; comfortable sofas and wooden tables. It is divided into a guest area and VIP area. There is a bar on the inside and western and eastern decks outside. On the eastern deck there is a staircase leading to more another entertainment spot.

“The development of Randlords was driven by the incredible views that the property offers,” Latimer says. “The directors wanted to create a space that would compare with similar spaces that celebrate the inner city skyscapes in New York and Hong Kong.”

He adds: “The intention originally was to offer a rooftop bar open to the public, where one could stop while the rush hour traffic subsided. Due to demand and the nature of the space, the business model evolved into what is now offered – an exclusive function space for corporate and private events.”

Skyline Gardens

The rooftop of another South Point development that makes full use of all its spaces is Auckland House. With its Skyline Gardens private penthouse apartments and bar, the building offers accommodation to young professionals.

Each penthouse has a rooftop garden, with garden dividers separating each apartment’s garden from another, giving privacy.

“Skyline Gardens, the open rooftop space at 1 Biccard [Street] integrates with the lifestyle offering that is 1 Biccard – apartments and penthouse lofts for the urban professional,” says Latimer.

“The idea was to create an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets. The space at Skyline Gardens looks over and onto the Nelson Mandela Bridge in the one direction and back onto the Hillbrow Tower and cityscape in the other direction.”

Apart from the mini-gardens, another rooftop space at Auckland House’s Skyline Gardens has a cocktail bar, dining and intimate lounge pods. Latimer says that the response from people regarding Randlords’ and Skyline Gardens’ rooftop spaces has been phenomenal.

“The truth is that people want to re-engage with the inner city experience. At South Point we are passionate about the rejuvenation of Braamfontein. These rooftop activations are the beginning of what is still to come.”

Sport and public art

The company has more plans – rooftop sports such as tennis and cricket, as well as an outdoor cinema.

Within walking distance of the two is the Alexander Theatre. It is owned by Adam Levy, a young developer who owns a number of buildings in Braamfontein.The theatre is on Stiemens Street and was refurbished to include an outdoor rooftop space used mainly for parties.

The rooftops, which are now used as recreational spaces, also offer a spectacular view over Braamfontein’s public street art. The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) has installed public art such as sculptures and murals in all shapes and sizes all across the city.

A number of these public artworks can be seen in Braamfontein, such as the huge eland across the road from Wits University, which was installed in 2007.

The eland is on the corner of Ameshoff and Bertha streets and is more than 5.5 metres tall, weighing more than 20 tonnes. Motorists driving over the Jan Smuts Avenue hill at the university are welcomed by the eland gazing down on them.

Down Bertha Street, at the foot of Nelson Mandela Bridge, beyond the eland are three steel sculptures, which form part of the steel trees along Juta Street.

The trees are unique as they are interactive - pedestrians can touch and play with them. They are adorned with coloured paint, some black with a tinge of red and others boasting purple and green shades.

The Rea Vaya stations also form part of the JDA’s public artwork. The stations each house unique artwork that has been commissioned by the JDA to celebrate the city and its people.

Bright greens, oranges, yellows and blues have been used by the artists, who were given the brief to attract the attention of passersby and commuters.

In late 2005 the suburb had a makeover, with a new logo, “Where people rise to greatness”, going up on poles. The private sector invested in creating gardens in Braamfontein, in particular the revamped park below the Joburg Theatre.



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