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Taxi Rank No 2
Diepsloot, Johannesburg, Gauteng

26'10 SOUTH ARCHITECTS: Architect

Date:2013?
Type:Taxi Rank
Status:Extant
2013GIfA Award for Architecture
Street:Main Road

 


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Coordinates:
25°55'21.76" S 28°01'15.09" E Alt: 1438m

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SAIA Commendation Award 2014

Award Citation

Diepsloot is the kind of environment that requires input from the best, most courageous and inspired architects. It is not every architect who would have the patience and willingness to learn from this environment, or the humility necessary to create opportunities and bring human dignity to it, where it is most needed. The reality is that most people on earth live within conditions of informality - the reality is also that very few architects have the ability to work meaningfully within such contexts. However, it would seem that Thorsten DECKLER and Anne GRAUPNER from 26'10 south Architects are the exception to this generalisation.

The process of realising a building like this is no easy task. It is clear that the architects and the rest of the professional team and builders had to face and overcome administrative inefficiencies, political opportunism, high levels of social tension and budget constraints.

When the architects received the appointment for its upgrade, the taxi rank already had some facilities. From their appointment onwards, they faced a hazardous stop-start process and had to have delicate and protracted negotiations with various stakeholders and interested parties to bring it to completion. The architects had to re-configure the taxi rank's shed- like roof in order to allow for more daylight. They have added the linear market and a celebratory public porch on the southern side of the site, while upgrading and adding the other functions needed for the facility.

The taxi rank is at is busiest from 04:00 until 06:00 each weekday, while the market and other amenities on the site are used throughout the day. During the frequent electricity black outs, due to the general insufficient power supply to the area, the market stalls are still able to operate effectively due to the provision of fuel-fired cooking facilities. The chimneys to these have been celebrated and have become one of the distinguishing features of the project. Initially, it was also intended that these could become the support structures for advertising in order to maximise income.

With the formalisation and upgrading of the previously existing informal market that is located on the edge of the site, the architects have effectively extended the double-sided linear market that exists along Main Road. They have, in this way, positively defined the public space with the formalisation of an active edge to the road. With it, they have also created safe, well-functioning and dignified stalls for the traders. The celebratory entry to the taxi rank, the public porch, the use of colour and the trees that have been planted have given an 'address' and place-like qualities to a bleak and hard environment.

The building and spaces created by 26'10 south Architects bear witness to their ability to humble themselves in order to learn from local conditions and from international best practice. Following this approach, they have not only created a foothold for survival among those who need it most, but they have also created a good example of how to make an inspiring and dignified urban place. It would bode officialdom and other architects well to take the lessons from this example to heart.

(Paul Kotze - 2014)

Text by Thorsten Deckler

What happens when the architect is told to draw up a scheme in a week and to be on site in a month - in time for the project to be used as an electioneering tool?

What happens when the project is stopped for a year only to be continued with two separate contractors having to complete construction in 2 months?

What happens when a comprehensive advertising strategy, potentially generating R40 000/month income is never implemented because the managing agent recalls two expressions of interest because they did not follow their own internal procedures? The chimney bases are built - designed to withstand the wind loads of nonexistent billboards. Negotiations with the taxi associations over rental and maintenance delay occupation for one year.

What happens when the client cuts out the photo voltaic installation? The UPS room remains empty and the rank is plunged in dark at its busiest time from 4h00-6h00 am (due to low supply). But the fireplaces can be lit to cook breakfast.

What happens when hardly any meaningful community and user engagement takes place? The idea of a timber armature (as popularly constructed all over Diepsloot is dismissed with the words 'they will burn it'. It is realised, instead, at substantial cost in steel.

What happens when, at the 11th hour, a colour scheme is smuggled past a conservative client and professional team? The former timber columns, now saved from burning, are glowing in orange and the international media machine picks up on the 'exotic colourfulness', publishing the work unoccupied despite protestation.

The building is now occupied. It is no longer clean, pristine or very well-maintained. It is possibly not even loved as much as it could be when insufficient electricity supply just adds to the daily grind of being a trader, taxi driver or commuter negotiating a dark piece of architecture.

User comments:

MARKET:

Lina, trader:
Before I was selling on the street, without a shelter. Rain was a crisis. You would run for shelter and leave your stock behind. Now I have shelter, it is secure.

Lidia & Mudzuli, traders:
The upgrade is good for the community. Before there was nothing, now we have infrastructure. It is something to be proud of. A legacy for Diepsloot's next generation. One day we can say to our children: 'I was part of the community that was involved in building it'.

Nando, market user and taxi driver:
I like to come to the market for lunch. Business is good. The food is good.

TAXI RANK:

Zachariah and Hamilton, taxi owners and community members:
We definitely like the taxi rank... Business is better. About sitting at the public porch; It's comfortable. We sit and check on the taxis. We can see when our taxis drive by… When there is traffic jams we assist.

Vicky, taxi driver:
it is better since the upgrade. I enjoy working from here.

Blantina, taxi user, visitor from Rustenburg:
I love the taxi rank! ...I come here from Rustenburg when I need something...The toilets are clean and there is water. The assistance (queue marshals) here is also very good, and people are kind.

MANAGEMENT:

Daniel, manager and chairman of taxi rank:
I am happy to use the taxi rank. It's very good. It has become too small... The taxi rank works well. It has shelter from the rain for the people and the cars. And it's not windy inside...The office is a good location - near the police station.

Security
Sharp. The taxi rank is nice... We like working here.

COMMUNITY:

Sam, young boy:
The market is nice... My friend and I come here to play on the levels (steps)… I like it because it is not dusty.

Promise, informal house owner across the street:
I like it (the taxi rank). It is safer, cleaner. The building blocks the sun and now I can see across the street what's going on… The building beautifies the place. It is a beautiful building.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.


Writings about this entry

South African Institute of Architects. 2014. Awards : South African Institute of Architects. Awards for Excellence, Awards of Merit, Regional Awards for Architecture 2013/2014. Cape Town: Picasso for SAIA. pg 60-61