University of the Free State, Student Centre, Thakaneng Bridge
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The project is an inhabited bridge over DF Malherbe Drive that connects the University library with the rest of the campus. It accommodates offices of the student centre at top floor and restaurants, commercial facilities, conference rooms and an amphitheatre at ground floor.
The architect has created a fragment of a city with intertwining and overlapping functions. The language is modern. A single mono-pitch roof serves as a structure across the road. As with all lively districts of a city, varying public realms of streets, squares, fore courts and suchlike are intricately knitted together.
In order to counter the amorphous structure of the existing university lay-out, the architect has set up parallel walls and beams as a continuation of the theme of the bridge, and uses them as a back-bone to attach the various functions. This structure is extruded outwards to public open spaces, again providing a backdrop for students to congregate.
The project emphatically demonstrates how architecture can enable human interaction in a flexible way without regimenting it.
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