The Baragwanath Transport Interchange and Trader Market (or Bara Mall in short) forms part of the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council’s Baralink Development Framework. Baralink aimsto integrate and uplift the Greater Soweto Area with Johannesburg like a gateway through one of the busiest transport nodes in South Africa.
The layout which appears to be an arcade draws attention to the structural spine along the whole length of the site. Bara Mall spans over 1300 meters along Old Potch Road and across Chris Baragwanath Hospital is on average only 50 meters wide. The oblong shape of the site has posed a serious challenge to meet the extended accommodation requirements and its functionality. This arcade becomes the binding element for the development onto which all the various functional requirements are attached. Commuters would walk along the arcade from one public facility to the next, from one transport station to the next. The arcade is the focal point of the development within which the greatest number of traders and public amenities and spaces are positioned.
The enormous length of the arcade was spatially differentiated in reference to the functions that happen along it. Landmark structures have been positioned at focal points and public entry points to ensure a greater sense of orientation. These landmark towers also become the focus of artwork done by local inhabitants, to enhance the sense of identity and ownership.Pedestrian access to the site is of primary importance as to make transition in and out of the site as easy as possible so it is possible to approach the ranks from any direction creating a porous space which ultimately affects the genus loci of the space.
As nearly 70% of all Soweto commuters use the interchange, the design wanted to acknowledge the importance of the Transport facility and market in the Soweto context. The Taxi Rank and Market has become the train station of the past, the gathering place for the greatest number of its citizens. Concrete was consciously used with the aim to provide a more robust, permanent structure, acknowledging the importance of these types of buildings within our community. The material was sculpturally applied to avoid a monotonous application, given the length of the building.
The development was divided into three phases. It accommodates 500 street traders with associated amenities, which include storage facilities, management offices and support infrastructure. The trader stands vary in size to accommodate the different types of street traders. 20 Bus ranking facilities are required to serve the needs of both long and short distance bus operators. The taxi industry, represented by 12 different operators, have a combined requirement for approximately 800 ranking and holding bays.
Security installations are relatively low and blends into the structures. This is due more to the concentration of the facilities. Each market square or ‘brake’ can be sealed off independently, providing maximum surveillance through patrols. There is clear visual communication through the halls of the market squares and encourages open networks between hawkers. This creates flexibility of activities that can overflow during peak hours without necessarily creating congestion.