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Shops in Parkhurst
Parkhurst, Johannesburg, Gauteng


Client:Fourth Avenue Investments

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26°08'28.85" S 28°01'01.11" E Alt: 1586m
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Award Citation

Over recent years Parkhurst, Johannesburg, has undergone a process of gentrification with many of the houses on the 4th Avenue high street being converted to accommodate antique stores, cafes, boutiques, etc. This project involved two existing houses (with their adjoining garages forming the third 'house') being linked together to constitute a continuous and positive street edge. The development gives up 1.5 metres to provide for a comfortable, attractive and somewhat playful walkway covered by a continuous cantilevered cover running the length of the street. Architectural elements from the high street typologies of that area, such as bay windows, canopies and verandas, are given a contemporary reinterpretation. The original structures of the existing houses have been significantly retained and various elements of these houses have been reused in the conversion to shops.

Members of the panel commented that adequate detail resolution of connections of shop-fronts to facades and columns to paving was lacking. They noted further that the juxtaposition of old and new in some instances had not been well represented or expressed. There was some concern as to whether the project as a whole was appropriately understated or unduly flimsy. Nevertheless the panel was of the view that the project represented an innovative, highly welcome and largely successful attempt to 'address the urban nature of a high street while maintaining the residential scale of the neighbourhood'. It contrasts sharply and positively with typical high street development elsewhere in the neighbourhood, providing an exemplary alternative to the bizarre eccentricity of competitive shop fronts on the one hand, or the boring blandness of departmental store design on the other. Each shop has its own distinctive personality, but all taken together provide style, attractiveness and coherence to the site. The project deserves a merit award.


The linking and conversion of two suburban houses into shops along a busy neighbourhood high street.

The transformation in recent years of a number of homes on 4th Avenue in Parkhurst into antique shops, boutiques and small cafés is an interesting urban/suburban development that can be traced back to similar gentrification processes in other global cities such as London and New York. In Johannesburg, however, many of these converted houses still maintain a residential, closed-off relationship with the high street through their existing boundary walls and set-backs from the road.

This conversion addresses these issues by creating a much more vibrant urban edge, encouraging a direct and open relationship with the street. Although the existing facades of the two converted homes have been maintained, the removal of the boundary wall and the introduction of a covered walkway creates a new urban feel to the street.

The new shops fit comfortably into the residential neighbourhood, maintaining its scale and nature, while simultaneously giving a fresh face to the retail strip.

Winner: Plascon Prism Awards, Commercial Category, 2010

(Compiled by Kate Otten Architects)

Submitted by William MARTINSON.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Writings about this entry

South African Institute of Architects. 2010. Awards : South African Institute of Architects. Awards for Excellence, Awards of Merit, Regional Awards for Architecture 2009/2010. Cape Town: Picasso for SAIA. pg 38-39, 85