Walk this way

Village Walk in Pretoria East, designed by NEO Architects, is the latest addition to
The Club Precinct, and aims to be an urban intervention as much as a retail precinct.

The Village Walk in Pretoria East, designed by NEO Architects for Atterbury Property, connects two existing retail precincts in the Old East Precinct in Hazelwood: The Village – an eclectic food, drink and leisure hub on 16th Street – and The Club precinct between Hazelwood and Dely Roads. 

More than this, however, the Village Walk constitutes the final piece in a puzzle, knitting together the different parts of the Old East Precinct – which also includes Die Klubhuis and Club One office buildings, The Club Surgical Centre and the Advocate Chambers – to complete the development. 

At the heart of the Village Walk is a pedestrian walkway that links The Village to The Club, composed of articulated landscaped courtyards and flanked by restaurants, coffee shops and an array of niche and independent retail offerings. The development also includes much-needed additional parking discretely tucked away behind the built fabric. 

More than a retail precinct, the Village Walk has been conceived of as an urban intervention, designed to provide residents and visitors with a pedestrianised street experience that harnesses and extends the unique character of the neighbourhood. By contributing quality shared public space to the precinct and activating the open-air urban environment, Village Walk maximises the benefits of Pretoria’s year-round warm climate and resultant outdoor lifestyle. 

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It also stands as a meaningful alternative to enclosed mall-like shopping environments that frequently spring up but contribute little to the urban fabric and social cohesion of community life. The broader context of the precinct has a distinctive residential character, which had spontaneously taken on a slightly commercial character as houses were gradually refurbished and reprogrammed as boutique retail offerings and restaurants. It is from this organic evolution in the urban fabric that NEO Architects took their cue for the design and development of the Village Walk.

The architects consciously reprised and extended the residential scale that already characterised these converted residential properties, envisioning the new development as the kind of creative district that is often central to urban regeneration. 

Rather than a generic retail environment, they prioritised the identity of each individual building, working with smaller contractors in a crafted architectural approach that is never over-embellished or overworked. 

They introduced a dynamic, sculpted architecture in a variety of styles and typologies, and a rich and varied palette of materials to give each shop or restaurant its own aesthetic. In combination with the wide sidewalks and courtyards, the architectural grain of the Village Walk and the rich array of materials, finishes and textures is well suited to the pedestrian perspective and experience. 

The landscaping and planting have been encouraged to blend with the architecture. Apart from introducing trees, creepers have been planted that will cover specially designed recesses in the mass walls to soften and dematerialise the architecture, further nestling into the existing city fabric and the character of the neighbourhood.  

Various architectural features have been included to help activate the open public space, inviting visitors to linger, and the retail environment to spill out onto and populate the new sidewalk. 

Many buildings feature covered walkways and shaded seating areas to enhance comfort and slow the pace so that shoppers and visitors enjoy the ‘village feel’ of the environment, rather than merely passing through it. Balconies on the upper levels face onto the street, further enhancing the feeling of human presence along the street, and improving the sense of security through passive surveillance. 

Public artworks, such as Angus Taylor’s bronze rhino calf sculptures, form beautiful focal points along the Village Walk route, affirming the value of the public spaces throughout the development.

As much as it was a way to open up an easier and more fluid movement between the two hubs of the Old East Precinct, the Village Walk also creates the condition for arteries to extend further into the surrounding city fabric and catalyse further ‘city-making’ interventions, encouraging the local population to ‘take back’ the city at street level, and celebrate and sustain the pedestrian experience of the neighbourhood. 

Professional team 
Client: Atterbury Property Architect: NEO Architects Quantity surveyor: GK Projects Structural and civil engineers: EDS Engineers Electrical engineers: Claassen Auret Landscape architects: Danie Rebel Health and safety: Cairnmead Industrial Consultants Main contractor: JC van der Linde & Venter Projects

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