When Paragon Architects designed the facilities at the Hatfield Square mixed-use student accommodation development in Pretoria for owners and developers Respublica and Redefine, it had a variety of social and study options in mind.
“Little did we know that this would provide an ideal social-distancing solution during the ongoing pandemic, as the students have a variety of options in terms of the spaces they can occupy,” says senior associate Antoinette Kloppers at Hatfield Square. These range from reading a book on a hammock to having a small social get-together outdoors, using a small study room, or simply sitting far apart in the study centre.
Catering to 2,200 students in a variety of unit types, Respublica Student Living manages the development that extends over 51,000m2(excluding basement levels), with 3,500m2 of retail space and a mix of restaurants and line shops facing Burnett Street. The retail industry and especially restaurants were hit hard by the pandemic, and it’s anticipated that Hatfield Square will benefit from more foot traffic during the summer months to come, bringing relief to these industries.
“As with all buildings besides healthcare facilities and our own homes, Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the development and occupation of buildings. The education sector suffered greatly with lockdown, and most students had to readjust by resuming their studies from their homes, just as we had to redefine the home-work balance. The facilities were unfortunately not fully occupied during these times,” says Kloppers. “In terms of the way forward, post Covid-19 there will be an increased demand for facilities that provide comfort and a variety of functional spaces.”
The project was completed in three phases. Blocks A and B are located closest to Hatfield Square, followed by Blocks C and D; the latter being the tallest building in the precinct, and completed last. To enhance the sense of micro communities the four blocks were colour coded, with each building’s unique colour repeating throughout its floor plates as well as on its façades.
With accessibility as the key driver, pedestrian walkways were introduced on either side of Hatfield Square Block D, connecting Hatfield Plaza and the Hatfield Gautrain station. These thoroughfares feature both stairs and ramps, and are therefore also wheelchair friendly.
“We shaped the space to cater for both students and the general public, encouraging flow and interaction,” says Kloppers. For example, the line shops were leased to tenants addressing student specific needs, together with a few restaurants. This mix resulted in an extremely inviting and welcoming frontage.