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Monday Aug 18, 2014

Renovated Pretoria city hall to be 'inspirational'

The renovation of the Pretoria City Hall will include creating an eternal flame of freedom and the biggest South African flag yet seen on a government building.

The 80-year old Pretoria City Hall is undergoing renovations to accommodate the office of the executive mayor and his staff.

Improvements to the historic city building have been welcomed, but with the proviso that it not unduly benefit the office of the city's executive mayor, but the city as a whole.

The city hall, built to mark Pretoria achieving city status in 1931, has the largest hall of its kind in the country. It is undergoing refurbishment to the tune of R35 million and Executive Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa is due to move in with his staff of 40 at the end of October.

The city hall will be the seat of the municipal executive - currently housed in the old Centurion municipal offices - while the new multibillion rand Tshwane House being built in Madiba Street will house local government administration and business.

Tshwane House, on the site where Munitoria was imploded last year, is expected to open late in 2016.

Tiyiselani Babane of Cope said while the renovation of the city hall was long overdue, the purpose should be to benefit of the public.

Babane suggested the mayor should remain in Centurion and move to Tshwane House with the rest of the municipal team when it was complete.

He said Tshwane House had been conceived to house all associated with the city under one roof.

Van den Heever said relocating the office of the mayor to the city hall had caused a chain reaction such as the closure of Museum Park.

'We demand that the heritage aspects of this renovation be respected and also regret the fact that Museum Park had to close to accommodate the mayor's new offices,' Van den Heever said.

The DA had requested an urgent in-loco visit to the site, which had yet to happen.

Mayoral spokesman Blessing Manale said the mayor's office at Tshwane House would be mainly for caucusing, council and committee work, with the city hall becoming his administrative hub.

Ramokgopa will be joined by 40 staff made up of executive heads of media and public affairs, protocol and ceremonial, intergovernmental and international relations as well as his private team, special interest groups and performance monitoring and evaluation personnel.

Also relocating with the mayor will be multi-stakeholder forums, the aids council, planning commission, executive assistants, directors and deputy directors.

Last year, Tshwane spent R22m on revamping four levels of Isivuno House opposite the Tshwane House site for the mayor.

However, an evaluation found the city hall to be the safer option, and the space at Isivuno went to the city manager and his deputies.

Manale said the refurbishment of the city hall went beyond office space and was about rejuvenating the iconic building and according it the status enjoyed by city halls globally.

The plan includes interior refurbishment of the office suite, networks, security, gardens, a fountain, parking bays, access control, improved acoustics, natural light use and energy efficiency retrofit.

The building will have improved gardens, a media centre and dining room, and work will include furniture, acoustics, curtaining, air conditioning, wi-fi and a clear-view fence.

Outer walls will be cleared of carbon residue and the old plastering removed.

Parking will be changed from tarmac to brick paving, while escalators, the clock tower and main hall will be restored.

There will be 60 works of art and a curio shop selling branded memorabilia for the capital city is included in the plans.

'We envision the future city hall as a place of engagement and consultations with stakeholders, and hosting of civic functions,' Manale said.

'It should inspire citizens and be recognised as the seat of their local government and be a venue for national observations, awards and ceremonies.'

Pretoria News


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