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A restoration project that revitalizes
a historic landmark

Firestation Rosebank

Project Type - Commercial Office Building

Client - Ruim / Tricolour Properties

Architect - Ruim

Collaborators - Justus van der Hoven Snr,

Christo van der Hoven, Michael Carpenter

Year - Completed 2018

Location - Johannesburg, South Africa

Project Size - 10, 000 m²

The original fire station in Rosebank was first constructed in 1935 and is the oldest operational building of its kind in Johannesburg. A landmark for the area, the site forms a vital part of Johannesburg’s rich narrative and cultural heritage.

A new commercial project called Firestation Rosebank was designed by architecture and development company Ruim and undertook to construct a contemporary, mixed-use building in the empty lot directly behind the historical fire station. The newly formed intervention was to be respectfully set back in order to both enhance and conserve the memory of the old building.

The new building includes a restaurant, coffee shop, serviced ‘co-working’ offices, event spaces, meeting rooms and a landscaped roof terrace. The development philosophy uniquely provides small, local businesses an opportunity to own offices in the rapidly growing business centre of Rosebank, within comfortable walking distance to public transport and Gautrain Station.

The building’s relationship with its surroundings is expressed in the restrained simplicity of its form. Carefully articulated vertical lines are drawn from the scale and proportions of the old heritage building – interpreted in a modern way.

Using parametric design technology, the architects modelled unique façade panels that were inspired by the Art Deco design of the original fire station, and added black vertical fins to improve thermal performance on the elevation, and creating shadowed depth of relief on the building elevations.

The new building design is
restrained in simplicity and form

The charcoal colour of the new architecture creates a contrasting backdrop to the warm, rich red material palette of the heritage building – respectfully preserving its place in the foreground. The development changed the relationship with the street by introducing a walk-able space that reactivated pedestrian movement along Baker Street. The restored and refurbished Heritage offices have a courtyard that also encourage vibrant public activity on Bath Avenue.


The Firestation’s impressive height provides striking views of Johannesburg, and the balcony support columns frame these vistas of the city, the distant horizon and nearby buildings. The building itself leaves a noticeable impression on the skyline of Rosebank and the new development further enhances the landmark status of the property.

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