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Corobrik’s pavers add to the visual dynamic of new Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria

The unique texture and colour aesthetics of Corobrik’s Burgundy and Piazza pavers created the perfect visual for the recently constructed Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria (Javett-UP). Located on Pretoria’s Lynnwood Road, the centre is a product of the partnership between the University of Pretoria and the Javett Foundation.
The Javett-UP will engage with what has been described as ‘the art of Africa’ by hosting exhibitions and programmes which feature and reflect on the art and creativity of the continent.
The structure, which was also built with Corobrik’s Terracotta Satin and Onyx face bricks, was opened to the public in September 2019 after three years of construction. AECOM was the constructing engineer group with Mathews and Associates Architects, and GREENInc Landscape Architecture + Urbanism, tasked with design.
The three-storey complex comprises nine art galleries, three public squares, a restaurant, an auditorium and a special gallery space where selected works in gold from the Mapungubwe collection, as well as the Barbier-Mueller collection of West African gold will be exhibited. It also acts as a new bridge between the two UP campuses on either side of Lynwood Road.
“The Javett-UP structure is both a space for some of the country’s most dynamic artistic expression within its galleries, as well as a reflection of the country’s architectural expression as a structure in itself,” explained Musa Shangase, Corobrik’s Commercial Director.
“Corobrik’s robust Burgundy paver range, used cleverly alongside the Terracotta Satin and Onyx Satin face bricks of the building, allow the artistic beauty of Javett-UP to infiltrate the city streets as well. Renowned for its longevity, colour-fastness and skid-resistance, the clay pavers will also ensure that – despite being such a heavy-trafficked area – the superior aesthetic will remain for generations of art lovers.”
More than 430 000 of Corobrik’s Burgundy and Piazza Burgundy pavers were used to craft the exterior walkways, public squares, ramps and parking area of Javett-UP. Wouter Labuschagne of GREENInc Landscape Architecture + Urbanism, explained that the pavers’ robust nature and colour palette pushed them to first choice.
“The colour works very well with the new building, aesthetically complementing it,” explained Labuschagne. “We selected the pavers to create a texture of patterns, generally with a simplistic layout – the reason being that we are more concerned about the space than the pattern.”
He said that 60 percent of the pavers were installed on a basement or slab: “This reduces future maintenance issues as the pavers are easily removed and reinstalled without compromising the surface. We also selected only two paver variations to create a more uniform thread between the different spaces of the building. By doing this we created a visual connection between the spaces with a simplistic, but beautiful floor surface.”
Commenting on the clay paver itself, Labuschagne explained that the essence of the material is to move 1 to 2 millimetres after the manufacturing process, resulting in a colour variation for each batch: “For us this is a form of art. The Javett-UP external areas and creative use of clay brick pavers is definitely art!”
Carla Spies, senior associate Architect at Mathews and Associates Architects, agreed, stating: “The modular nature of the pavers creates a beautiful texture that pays homage to African patterns and South African architect, Norman Eaton. The paving links the new building with the existing Boukunde Building where Eaton taught architecture.”
Pieter Mathews, concept and principal architect, envisioned the Onyx face brick in soldier course at the entrance as way to welcome visitors. Jannes Hatting - another project architect from Mathews and Associates Architects – encouraged the reference to the heritage town planning building through the Flemish bond pattern, used on that particular building in Roan Satin and Onyx Satin face bricks.
The Javett Foundation contributed towards construction of this collegiate and philanthropic centre and has committed to further annual donations over the next decade to support the centre's financial viability. The facility is managed by the Arts Centre Foundation.