Named after Voortrekker leader Petrus Jacobus Joubert, the town of ‘Pietersburg’ was established in 1886. The town officially became a city in 1992 and in 2005 the city was officially named Polokwane, a Northern Sotho word meaning ‘place of safety.’ The city currently has a population of approximately half a million inhabitants. The city has branded itself as Africa’s “city of stars.”
The design approach took its cue from the city’s history and the surrounding natural landscape. The design strove to be modern and contemporary, yet reflect the unique character of Polokwane.
The umbrella thorn (acacia tortilis) is a medium-sized tree that dominates the surrounding land- scape around the city of polokwane. It is also known as “haak and steek” in Afrikaans and “mosu” in Tswana, “moswana” in Northern Sotho, “umsasane” in siSwati, “nsasani” in Tsonga, and “muun- gakhanga” in Venda.
The tree provides beautiful dappled shade under which people frequently gather. It is a recognizable African symbol, being used for numerous purposes throughout the continent, from furniture to its edible gum. The station design takes reference from this tree specifically in the top structure which is a large elegant canopy that provides a place of deep shade and respite from the unrelenting sun. The canopy is supported by a single column that bends into a branch-like member and forms the slope of the generous canopy.
The city of Polokwane is surrounded by a ecological system known as Polokwane plateau bushveld. The author’s interests led to further research into red data (endangered) species of this landscape. a bird called the short-clawed lark (certhilauda chuana), is only found in Polokwane game reserve (only 3km from the city) due to the destruction of its grassland habitat by urbanisation. This bird is a globally threatened endemic, there are only 80-120 pairs left in South Africa.
Marc Sherratt found that this bird’s breeding and habitat requirements could be incorporated into the design of the landscaping that would surround these new bus stations. As the bus stations sit in the traffic island these areas would be relatively undisturbed. If maintained correctly this could lead to this species decolonizing these areas and possibly even breeding.
In order to link to the cities brand image of “Africa’s city of stars”, specific focus was placed on the lighting strategy of the stations.
The station’s lighting responds to the amount of people movement in the station. This helps save electricity when that station is not is use while also providing some excitement as it gradually “awakes” due to a person entering.