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SPECIAL REPORT Sedibeng Brewery


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Sedibeng Brewery – Transitions in an African Landscape Introduction: The green tint of the bottle is synonymous with cool refreshing international beer. It would be Osmond Lange Architects and Planners and others that would be at the forefront of making the development of a brewery a reality. “The design challenge was to create an architecture of engineering, an architecture where the nuts and bolts of the brewing process would be reflected in the design of the buildings and their arrangement within the landscape.” explains project architect, Vernon Schroeder, “Like the brewing process which is a relationship or a collection of processes so the buildings reflect this through interrelationships – the positioning of buildings on the site, their use of materials, detailing and colour.”


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A further challenge was to take the large volumet-

Vehicular access to the brewery is via an approach

ric forms as determined by the processing equip-

road which winds itself through the industrial park

ment, and transform them or integrate them so as

so taking cognisance of its connectivity to future

to be in harmony with the immediate and surround-

surrounding developments. From this road one is

ing landscape.

guided to the precinct along an entrance boulevard which opens up the visitor’s views to the extent of

Location / Context: Sedibeng Brewery is sited just south of Johannesburg near Alberton, its backdrop a natural ‘koppie’ with the Kliprivier a notable natural feature – the

the precinct, it’s array of differing types of buildings and finally a glimpse of the focal building: the brew house.

Site / Precinct:

springboard for the designs sensitivity to the environment. Being bounded by the R59 freeway, it was

The nature of the precinct demands large scale

a gleaning opportunity to open up the development

shed-type buildings which can pose a rather de-

for visibility to passing traffic. The campus of the

humanising industrialised experience. This magna-

brewery buildings, sits low slung, but for the grain

nimity is brought to a human scale by introducing

silos peering over the relatively flat-lined southern

smaller scale/people-related buildings experienced

landscape, sprawled across the vast red-earth site.

on arrival arranged along the entrance boulevard/


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axis. Furthering the human scale, the pedestrian approach separated from that of vehicular access is delineated by a journey within a landscaped park. All visitors arrive or park along the primary axis and are immediately orientated towards the Brewery at the People’s Courtyard that culminates at the end of the axis. The People’s Court is bounded by buildings with a less industrialised programme such as the kitchen/canteen, the locker rooms and the main gatehouse. These smaller scale buildings sited within an sculpted landscape create a sense of serenity in an otherwise harsh environment. The pedestrian routes headed towards the Brew house are defined by stone base walls placed in the landscape. Experienced in all buildings, these stone walls ‘anchor’ the earthbound buildings to the floating roofs.

Collection of Buildings: “To achieve an interrelationship and for the precinct to read as a congruous entity, the family idea of parts/boxes necessitated that each building project certain common elements.” This was achieved through the juxtaposition of colour of parts, the emphasis of the building bases ‘emerging’ from the earth, and the bright blue skyline incorporated into the buildings through the use of floating roofs.

The Brew house: The brew house sitting at the heart of the precinct, although adhering to these principles of the family, becomes the focus through its use of curved facades as a primary feature. The curvilinear geometry reappears subtly in other parts/blocks such as the canteen, gatehouse and administration building.


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“Although built to stringent quality standards and specifications, the complex still manages to portray a sense that the buildings are indeed rooted in the South African context. The use of locally sourced, textured materials – clay bricks, stone rock walling, and low maintenance natural materials echo its African sensibilities. The facades of the buildings are made up of three definitive parts – the sturdy base erected from clay brick emerging from the earth, supporting a light weight steel façade encapsulating the intricacies of the brewing process, topped by a ‘floating’ roof connecting the building to the sky.” “Making use of the brewing process as aesthetic inspiration,” says Schroeder “we drew on the rich colours of the malt, the vibrant reds associated with the fermentation process, and the clear water as a palette to be applied throughout the buildings.” It is a celebrated space by means of playful elements such as, the manipulation of solid and void, by the use of light elements through the exposure of the structure supporting the floating roof, also enhancing structural integrity and by the façade being de-composed into projecting and receding elements giving it a human scale. It further plunges itself into the African context by drawing on symbolic elements of the South African culture-slit windows resembling the stitches on the zulu warriors shield and the domed woven wattle hut breaking the internal rectilinear geometry.


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Solar control comes by means of horizontal louvers further delineating the façade of the building.” All buildings are naturally ventilated and predominately naturally lit. The buildings too are double insulated, preventing excessive heat from dissipating from the buildings skin during the southern chilly winter months.

Conclusion: The brewery is set to be developed in 3 phases. Phase one has dealt with the main manufacturing facility including malt and fermentation facilities, brewery house, bottling plant and distribution centre with built-in flexibility to expand. Taking into consideration the extent of the project, the pace with which Osmond Lange delivered the goods is quite phenomenal. Without a doubt the fastest technically intricate project relative to its size that Osmond Lange has delivered to date, delivering 23 buildings in just over a year. “We started on site in May 2008 and delivered the first Phase on 30 June 2009 – in just 14 months,” states project director Deon van Onselen. Van Onselen goes on to say that over the last two to three years the building industry in South Africa has developed a capacity to deliver at “quite a speed.” <


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SPECIAL REPORT> Sedibeng Brewery