Johannesburg, South Africa

AngloAmerican Reinvention

In a CBD that had become increasingly hostile and unkempt since the relocation of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to Sandton, this proposal inverted the classic skyscraper typology and invented a new “invited public” space within the iconic Marshalltown campus. Dubbed “the Skyshaft" the new thunderbolt-meets-mineshaft structure connects AngloAmerican staff with each other, with the public, and most importantly with nature, in a blending of business, leisure and architectural spectacle.

Soundspacedesign took an honourable mention in the 2011 competition for the reinvention of AngloAmerican's Johannesburg headquarters - an art deco masterpiece that has formed the kernel of downtown Johannesburg since the 1930s. 

The rebranding exercise was brought to being in the context of the emergence of the Economic Freedom Fighters and their call to Nationalise the mines, while AngloAmerican took on a radical streamlining of their diversified mining portfolio.


The architectural concept centred on the idea of connecting the most commonly used executive meeting spaces, the top floor of the tallest building (Building D) with the reception within the more iconic Building B, in a direct manner, essentially a diagonal line that traverses the existing piazza that forms the centre of the campus.

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A new conception of the Anglo American Campus for a more connected and inspired workplace with higher public engagement

In doing so, additional office spaces, meeting and event spaces, peppered with retail and hospitality cascade down from building D to the ground floor plane in a metaphorical dematerialisation of the Art Deco skyscraper archetype.


The Skyshaft becomes a place where urban farming ~ sky farming ~ is practiced in an educational way, where produce is sold on weekly markets in the plaza below. Initial calculations estimate that 9,6m litres of rainwater would be collected annually, with 43% dedicated to the urban agriculture and landscaping within the campus with the balance being put to use for building services use.

The SkyShaft tracks a desire line between the reception of Building B and the Executive Suites of Building D.


A subversion of a traditional mineshaft, the SkyShaft becomes a 'green' thunderbolt on the skyline of Johannesburg.

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An oasis of green in the concrete jungle Johannesburg is made visible through the SkyShaft.

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The plaza is raised in order to connect to the de-facto principal levels within the Art Deco duo.

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The protection of the SkyShaft glazing provides shelter for frost-sensitive plants to grow.

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Escalators, the most energy efficient mode of vertical transportation form the backbone of the SkyShaft.

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A series of new offices, coffee shops, meeting rooms and event spaces cascade through the SkyShaft.

Aeroponics and hydroponics form the basic of the urban farming in the sky - Sky Farming

In terms of solar energy - 1,8 Million Kilowatts is generated over four buildings, 42% of which is used in the large building D which would remain fully air-conditioned in terms of their current use, whereas the older buildings with higher ceilings and operable windows would be reconverted to mixed-mode systems. 

30% of the electricity generated is used on the SkyShaft escalator system during the day.

The geologically inspired AngloAmerican logo is reinterpreted as the basis for the aeroponic and hydroponic farming's glazing system.

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Citrus and banana's, the most popular fruit in the world, become the mainstay of the skyfarm's public landscaping.

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The SkyShaft wears its sustainability on its sleeve and becomes a quasi-public space that allows for a penetration of an ‘invited public’ into the inner sanctum of a business that has formed the backbone of the South African GDP for the most part of the 20th Century. This transparency and environmental responsibility being key to AngloAmerican's reinvention for the 21st Century.

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 ABN 23627800926  ARBNSW 10266 Nominee Architect Gerald Don Albert 

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