Alice Lane 3
Award of Merit Citation
The Alice Lane precinct that forms part of this commercial development is situated just west of the so-called 'heart' of the CBD of Sandton, namely Sandton City. Topographically it is somewhat lower than the shopping centre, while its views are generally towards the west, Randburg, and the south, towards the 'old' CBD of Johannesburg. It follows logically from this, that this part of the Sandton CBD is equally prominent on the skyline from the south and west, while it is somewhat hidden from the eastern section of the Sandton CBD, which has seen such prolific development in the last few years.
This building at Alice Lane 3 forms part of a larger development that has taken shape over recent times and that has also been designed by Paragon Architects.
However, with the making of Alice Lane 3, a major change in direction was introduced. This change came with the emphasis on developing the space between the buildings as an urban public space that is accessible to the general public. Sandton is sadly notorious for its lack of focus on the making of public space. Most buildings in the area are selfreferential and inwardly focused, relying solely on car access for its interaction with the bigger world. Suddenly here at Alice Lane, a positive 'disruption' occurred in terms of the emphasis on the value of the space between the buildings. It did not come about because the developers saw any value in it; it came about because of the architects' vision. It also came about because of their ability to change the perceptions of those who had to put the cash forward to achieve this dream. This has become a high-quality space, not only defined by the buildings surrounding it, but also by the magnificent views from the pedestrian level towards the rest of the city. These views towards the south and west might be the single most important achievement by the architects. Here they have created a memorable space that anchors all who use this space, to 'place' in the most profound sense of the word.
The tower block was specifically designed to fulfill the requirements of a single tenant, namely a law firm. The requirement was mainly for cellular offices each with direct contact with the outside, this resulted in an H-shaped plan form with a majestically scaled atrium as the major memorable and orientation space. The outside of the building has been carefully shaped and sculpted to ensure daylight into the newly created public space. This building has an imposing presence in its context despite its near transparency as an object. The spatial efficiency and economy of means with which this building has been designed is truly impressive. In total, this development has introduced a more urbane way of space making, both public and private, into the building and rapid transformation of Sandton. This change of heart is a good example that would, hopefully, have a positive reaction in this area and other parts of South Africa.