Turbine Hall, Johannesburg

What started out in the late 1920s as a power station has been transformed into a contemporary function venue known as Turbine Hall, run by the Forum Company. Located in Johannesburg’s Newtown Cultural Precinct, the building’s refurbishment included equipping it with modern conveniences while preserving its historical architecture.

Built as a power station for the city of Johannesburg in the late 1920s, Turbine Hall’s distinctive architecture reveals the unique history of this venue.

The building continued to function on and off as a back-up power supply for the city into the 1970s, when it was used as a standby and for peak loading periods.

Today, its triple-volume space and underground areas are all built around the old power station, with the original coal hoppers and turbines used as design features in the refurbished building.

Ensuring that the building remains a pristine heritage site was always part of the plan for the revitalisation of Turbine Hall. This meant that its transformation from the Jeppe Street Power Station – which was the last and largest of three steam-driven power stations built in Newtown to supply electricity to Jo'burg – to event venue was done with 'the utmost respect and sensitivity'.

The successful combination of old and new has resulted in a modern space that acknowledges the building’s role in the city’s development while at the same time serving Johannesburg’s need for a top-quality conference and events venue.

Glynis Hyslop, the Forum Company’s managing director, says: 'The new building pays homage to the existing structures in material selection, scale and spatial experience.' Light floods into the venue from new windows and skylights, and the result is 'an intentionally modest external expression with celebrated internal volumes', says Hyslop.

She believes that Turbine Hall's enormous energy and uniqueness mean that its spaces dictate their own usage. For example, 'the soaring basement with the enormous turbine concrete plinths make an extraordinary event space, while the girder room has evolved into a perfect evening bar, and the huge boiler house inspired the lightness of the furnishings', she explains.

The venue is managed by the Forum Company and can accommodate a wide range of events for 10 to 800 people. Visitors to the area can enjoy a drink at the venue's signature bar, or book a private dining experience to fully enjoy this unique inner-city space.

Travel tips & Planning info

How to get here

Turbine Hall is situated at 65 Ntemi Piliso Street in Newtown, which can be reached by crossing over the Nelson Mandela Bridge.

Around the area

Newtown is home to many museums, theatres, restaurants, art galleries, dance studios, craft markets and nightspots. It also hosts regular events and is a managed precinct with 24-hour security patrols.

What to eat

The Forum Company's renowned 'underground dinners' take place among the turbines of the old power station.

What's happening

The Turbine Hall hosts an annual art fair in support of South Africa's talented young artists.

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