As an architectural student, corporate architecture, especially the concept of the shopping mall, with it’s anti-social, exclusionary and consumerist soul, was viewed as sacrilegious. This was our young, starry-eyed idealism.*
When I was living in London, I aimed to work only short term contract jobs to allow myself time in between to travel. I had not foreseen a particularly long period of winter unemployment leading to my dodging bus conductors and living off frozen Tesco cabbage sprouts for much longer than anyone should. I had been through several uninspiring interviews, and then came to Haskoll.
Haskoll Architects were housed the most beautiful five storey house I had ever seen. At 39 Harrington Gardens, South Kensington, had once lived one half of the famous comic opera duo Gilbert and Sullivan. This 19th Century building’s interior was the most boldly ornate timber I could ever have imagined. I was spellbound. I didn’t care what I’d be working on, I was transfixed. I had to work there!
It turns out they did shopping centres. And very good ones. And I loved every minute of Haskoll.
Strange pattern again, that after working as a rather purist marketer for a few years, I found myself lured in to the very strange looking campus of Vodacom in Midrand. With its dirty glass pyramids and intersecting grey tiles, it’s not quite the architectural masterpiece of South Ken. But this is Joburg; known more for its energy and people than its architecture. This time it was not the building, but the people, and prospects it offered that attracted me.
Yes, it’s the most corporate I have ever experienced, but strangely, my role here is rather less rigid than expected. I would call it a mesh between business performance reporting, internal communications, and a gap in between for mixing it up a bit. There is space to explore.
In my five months here I have built a small knowledge bank in my brain for IT and telecoms operations. It’s an interesting field.
More on that later.
* I don’t discount this starry-eyed idealism. It’s still holds weight in my view, albeit now with a pinch of salt.
When I arrived in Joburg, in 2013, I was horrified at the architectural monstrosity of the Vodacom campus! I will now give it credit: there are plenty of good communal spaces within, and some great facilities like eateries, a gym, and some big fields for events.
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- On June 16, 2016
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