An exhibition space by internationally renowned architect David Adjaye will tie in with the Food and Culture Hub planned for the area in recognition of its status as a gathering space for people moving across Africa.

Internationally acclaimed architect David Adjaye has been commissioned by Designing_SouthAfrica to design an urban pavilion to be built in the Park Station precinct, in downtown Joburg.

The pavilion will tie in with the Johannesburg Development Agency’s planned African Food and Culture Hub for Joburg, developed by Urban Works, and will activate an underutilised public space in the city. The design concept of the pavilion will be revealed on 23 September; Adjaye, who is based in London, will be in the city of gold for the event. It will coincide with a seminar on democracy and space, and include a tour of the city.

In essence, the urban pavilion will be a built-up tent-like structure, which will be airy and open, and give a sense of lightness. It will most likely be used for exhibitions. Designing_SouthAfrica explains: “The exciting project is the next major local and international collaboration for the organisation. Zahira Asmal, founder and director of Designing_SouthAfrica, inspired by the anniversary of South Africa’s democracy, saw 2014 as an opportune time to invite global collaboration in creating new South African spaces.”


Asmal identified the need to reconceptualise the role of public space through sound architecture and design, it adds. “Her long-standing working relationship with David Adjaye combined with his immense knowledge of African spaces, histories and challenges meant that there was no contest in Asmal’s mind as to who was best to lead the design on this project.”

The City is an “essential partner in realising the pavilion”, which is supported by Executive Mayor Parks Tau and the Passenger Rail Association of South Africa (Prasa). Designing_SouthAfrica has experience in working with the JDA.

Asmal notes: “The pavilion at Park Station will not only be a beautifully designed structure, but it will form part of a much larger project to develop the area into a food and culture hub in the inner city. In doing so, the pavilion will reignite this public space, heralding the change in function in a celebratory and landmark way.”

Adjaye, who has an Order of the British Empire, was named one of Britain’s 500 most Influential People by Debrett’s. Born in 1966, he lived in a number of African cities before settling in London, where he obtained a degree in architecture from London South Bank University. This was followed by a Master’s degree in architecture from the Royal College of Art in 1993.

He founded Adjaye Associates in June 2000, where he is the principal architect. He has been called one the world’s leading architects of his generation, and has been described as an architect with an artist’s sensibility and vision.

He says: “Unlike people who may have had an education or a stable upbringing in one or two places, I was forced from a very early age to negotiate a wide variety of ethnicities, religions, and cultural constructions. By the time I was 13, I thought that was normal, and that was how the world was. It gave me a kind of edge in an international global world, which we find increasingly in the 21st century. So I think, in a way, my parents bringing me up the way they did prepared me for the world that we now inherit and live in. That is intrinsic to my approach towards design, which always seeks to be highly sensitive to the cultural framework of different peoples. Most of my work has always been in cosmopolitan, metropolitan cities or places where differences are always being negotiated. A sensitivity to that is at the heart of my practice.”


The pavilion will be located at Joburg’s Park Station Precinct, which is the primary transit exchange in the city, with more than a million commuters using public transport such as Rea Vaya, Gautrain, Metrorail, and taxis.

The precinct surrounds Africa’s largest and busiest railway station, Park Station, in the heart of the inner city. The railway line runs west to Carletonville, Randfontein and Soweto; east to Springs, Nigel and Daveyton; north to Pretoria; and south to Vereeniging.

Park Station is also the Joburg terminus of Shosholoza Meyl, the long-distance rail service to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Bloemfontein via Kimberley, Komatipoort via Nelspruit, and Musina via Polokwane.

Once the precinct is complete, it promises to be a breathtakingly opulent quarter, rich in African splendour, offering easy movement to the rest of the province.

As a major transport hub, the area’s redevelopment is being prioritised in line with Johannesburg’s Growth and Development Strategy, which emphasises safe, convenient and affordable public transport. In deference to it being Africa’s transport hub, the station’s revamp will reflect the continent’s rich diversity, through the development of the African Food and Cultural Hub.

The project also forms part of the City’s Corridors of Freedom – well-planned transport arteries designed to link people to work and leisure spots. It includes developing mixed-use spaces, where city dwellers are able to live, work and play.


Adjaye has extensive experience designing mixed-use developments, having worked on projects like the Sugar Hill social housing scheme in New York City’s Harlem, and a mixed-use retail and arts complex in Beirut, Lebanon.

Known for the design of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, he is responsible for two neighbourhood libraries in the American capital (2012) and the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo in Moscow (2010).

Previous projects include The Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo (2005), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver (2007), and in London the Bernie Grant Arts Centre (2007), Rivington Place (2007), and the Idea stores on Chrisp Street (2004) and in Whitechapel (2005).

Adjaye Associates is a global practice, based in the United Kingdom, with offices worldwide and projects spanning four continents. His other projects include private houses, exhibitions and temporary pavilions to major arts centres, civic buildings and master plans in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.