Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System (Johannesburg & Soweto, South Africa)

Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System (Johannesburg & Soweto, South Africa)

Client: City of Joburg
Location: Johannesburg & Soweto, Gauteng, South Africa

The Rea Vaya BRT Stations align with the hi-tech architectural tradition of structurally and functionally derived form and celebrated engineering detail. Designed as a series of standardised elements manufactured off-site and quickly assembled on-site, the design exposes and celebrates the joining of structural members, planes, elements and materials together to form a didactic “kit of parts”.

With phase 1 comprising of more than 60 stations, the Rea Vaya project is perhaps the first city-wide infrastructure project that will imprint upon Johannesburg’s diverse metropolitan areas a collective urban experience, common to Meadowlands and Morningside, to Diepkloof and Dunkeld. The architecture of the station buildings had to reflect a sense of urbanity that is African.

To this end, four devices were drawn upon; scale that is human, form that is playful and disordered reflecting its context, a fine grained townscape/ roofscape, and colour that is vivid and bright. Notions of a network wide identity are fostered through a series of bold architectural elements; broken, overlapping roof planes that allude to organically formed African Townscapes like Alexandra and Sophiatown, red-painted pylons that thrust diagonally skywards, evoking lightning strikes hitting the ground during a Highveld storm, and glazed side screens rounded at each end and framed by blue-painted steel tubes.

Location specific identity is engendered through a pair of artwork panels positioned on the side screens of the ticketing area of each station. Local visual artists have been challenged to conceive of bold graphic imagery which, translated through sandblasting and steel cutting methods, aims to mark and position the stations themselves. The artworks respond site specifically and connote conditions of the location of the BRT station within the city.