How do we introduce new buildings in complex urban environments? Urbanist Jan Gehl
(2010:97) argues that rapid developments in building technologies, social and economical
sciences have resulted in an unprecedented amount of urban areas transforming into stand alone
buildings. This phenomenon describes the shifting focus of architectural ideals from masterfully
detailed buildings nested in an urban context to monstrous rapidly-erected ‘visionary’ districts.
The voids of the city, generally disregarded and under appreciated in the greater context
of Pretoria CBD, are taken as the containers of contextually relevant informants which can be
extracted and utilised in a contextual response to site. Due to the vague nature of these empty
spaces, they provide opportunities for new processes to unfold.
By treating unprogrammed and ancillary space with the same importance as programmed
space, the architecture does not stand alone, but exists in a symbiotic relationship with its
surroundings, achieving a truly contextual response.
The objective of the thesis is to identify the emergent processes which are occurring on
the site on the corner of Paul Kruger and Struben Street - a void rooted in the gaps of existing
institutions. Once identified, these processes are then extrapolated and transformed to be utilised
as tools for catalytic changes, resisting a strategic approach to regeneration.
The result of the contextual understanding is realised in the design of an urban place of
education, borrowing from existing processes and providing an enriching layer to the urban
Dissertation (MArch(Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2014.