The new R340-million Johannesburg Council Chamber building, which is expected to be complete in March next year, will boast dedicated seats for the public and media.
Joburg Property Company (JPC) property development senior manager Alan Dinnie on Tuesday told journalists attending a media tour that the new building, which was developed owing to the lack of seating at the current council building, will have seating for 361 council members and 158 dedicated seats in a balcony for the public and media.
The current council building has no seating for media or the public.
There will also be a circular Stoa walkway around the chamber, which refers to a roofed colonnade typically used in ancient Greece.
A technical control room will be located above the speaker’s office that will allow for the broadcast of council sessions.
Further, six translation booths will be built above the control room.
Dinnie highlighted that the community has played a significant role in the construction of the new Council Chamber, with about 20% of the R280-million construction spend being allocated to community development, as well as incubator and training programmes.
He asserted that this had resulted in the employment of about 40 small, medium-sized and microenterprises on the project.
The architects for the project were studioMAS.
Meanwhile, Dinnie told media that the new chamber was designed with the circular lekgotla in mind, which was the traditional meeting place for African decision-makers.
The circular design also symbolises a drum, which Dinnie noted would be used to sound the start of council meetings, rather than the European bell, which is currently being used.
The building will also have visible gold fixtures to symbolise its presence in Johannesburg, which has a history synonymous with the precious metal.
A standout feature of the new building is its glass façade, which will not only allow council members to look out into Johannesburg but will also allow the public to look in on council meetings.
Dinnie highlighted that the glass façade was selected to symbolise the importance of transparency in governance.
Further, the new chamber will have a public viewing area, called the People’s Square, to showcase the importance of public participation in governance.
The chamber will also be surrounded by flag poles, which will form part of a garden of remembrance celebrating former council members.
The building has a five-star Green Star rating from the Green Building Council South Africa.