Constitutional Court

  • Three stories including 8,200m² court, reception area, legal library and judges chambers.
  • Pioneering sustainable heating and cooling systems.

Johannesburg’s notorious Old Fort compound has the unenviable distinction of being the only prison in the world in which both Gandhi and Mandela were incarcerated. This symbolic site was chosen as the home for debate and research of constitutional issues in the new South Africa.

The accessibility and transparency of the scheme enshrines the values of the new democracy, whilst preserving the memory of the past.

The court entrance rests alongside the existing Prisoners Waiting Building, which is to be preserved. The court chamber features a substantial gabion wall formed from the rubble of the demolished structures. The remainder of the complex houses extensive law libraries, galleries, judges accommodation and conference facilities.

The building’s external form, fabric and orientation create an environment sheltered from climatic extremes. This approach is complemented by a discrete ventilation system employing innovative passive cooling and heating systems to provide comfort using minimum energy and avoiding environmentally damaging refrigeration processes.

With these pioneering engineering measures, the Constitutional Court represents a proud step forward into a new era of global awareness of sustainable engineering.


  • Constitution Court, Johannesburg, exterior of building. Credit Hi Shots.Open gallery

    The complex houses a court, law libraries, judges' accomodation and other facilities.

  • Detail from interior staircase, showing words 'Diversity, freedom and equality'. Credit Angela Buckland.Open gallery

    The accesibility and transparency of the scheme enshrines the values of the new democracy.