Johannesburg's Most Impressive Buildings

The Alexander Forbes building in Johannesburg was completed in 2012
The Alexander Forbes building in Johannesburg was completed in 2012 | ©Andrew Bell/Paragon Architects

From historic treasures dating back to the 1800s to modern designs, the city of Johannesburg is filled with impressive buildings and is a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts.

Alexander Forbes

The energy efficient building makes use of rain and greywater recycling, passive heating and cooling and other practices

Alexander Forbes, completed in 2012 and designed by Paragon Architects, is one of the most contemporary buildings in Johannesburg and consists of eight office floors set above six parking levels. The massive office space is considered a “green” building with a 4-Star Green Star rating due to its efficient energy and water saving practices.

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The Creative Counsel

The façade of the building as seen from Corlett Drive

The head office of the marketing agency The Creative Counsel epitomises modern design and includes relaxation and collaboration areas, a running track and a zen garden – ultimately focused on the contentment of employees. The building, designed by Paragon Architects, towers over the M1 highway and was completed in 2013.

SA Institute for Medical Research

The SA Institute for Medical Research was completed in 1912 and the original structure was designed by the world-renowned architect, Sir Herbert Baker. The building is one of Baker’s most famous works, together with the Union Buildings in Pretoria, and was constructed using local materials and implementing the skills of local builders and craftsmen.

Kago ABC Le Kay Motsepe building

This imaginative building, which dates back to the 1930s, was redesigned by Fanuel Motsepe of Motsepe Architects. The exterior now boasts colourful paintwork which was inspired by the 1950s mosaic tiles found on the building’s sixth floor.

The Market Theatre

The Market Theatre, also known as South Africa’s “Theatre of the Struggle”, was founded in 1976 and started life in the building that previously hosted the bustling Indian Fruit Market. Set in Newtown, the theatre is still active and one of the most popular entertainment venues in Johannesburg; famous for showcasing engaging, as well as controversial, productions.

Ponte City Apartments

Ponte City Building interior cylinder

The 173 meter (567ft) tall, 54 storey, Ponte City Apartments building is a skyscraper in Berea – which was built in 1975 and designed by architect Rodney Grosskopff. It is the tallest residential skyscraper in Africa, and, dominating the city’s skyline, it has become a recognisable icon of Johannesburg.

The Rand Club

The original Rand Club was founded in 1887 and has been restructured a few times. The final major restructuring took place in 1904 and the original building stands to this day, including the opulently designed exterior. The Rand Club is still host to many lavish events and used as a venue for weddings, conferences and more.

Old Rissik Street Post Office

The Rissik Street Post Office is one of Johannesburg‘s oldest public buildings but has been unoccupied since 1996. The building was designed in 1897 by Sytze Wierda, Paul Kruger’s architect and at the time it was the tallest building in the city. Paul Kruger, President of the South African Republic from 1883 to 1900, was inspired by the buildings he saw on his travels to Europe and wanted to incorporate the building styles in South African architecture.

Turbine Hall

The mammoth building incorporates original pieces, such as turbines, into its design and interior

Newtown, which has become the city’s cultural and artistic centre, is home to the stately Turbine Hall. The building was established in the 1920s as a power station and was restored in 2005. The industrial style building is run by The Forum Company and hosts many weddings, artistic shows and other high-end functions.

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