The start of a new era for the Aula

Posted on August 31, 2012

The stage production, as well as the art exhibition in the Rautenbach Hall was aimed at exhibiting the wide range of applications and genres the Aula can accommodate. The production was managed by UP Arts and the song, dance and music items were performed mainly by UP’s students, lecturers and alumni. The collection of artworks was done by the Department of Visual Arts as well as by postgraduate students.

The Aula has a rich history. During the first years of the theatre's existence it regularly attracted world famous artists. Various operas, concerts in various genres, as well as ballet performances have been presented here.

In 2003 – 45 years after the Aula was built – the University decided to commence with a new phase. It was also possible to adapt the structure for the installation of the stately pipe organ that had originally been built in 1904 for the Dutch Reformed Church in Bosman Street, near Church Square.

One of the reasons for the new phase was the fact that the foyer had become too small, especially during productions where the weather did not play along. The original Aula was also not easily accessible for persons with physical disabilities and this shortcoming had to be rectified. At the same time, the theatre could be directly connected to the University's new parkade which was put into use last year, together with the new Engineering 3 building.

The most important heritage consideration was that the architectural integrity of the buildings had to be retained. The Aula was designed in the 1950s by the well-known architect, Karel Jooste, and is regarded as an excellent example of South African regional modernism. The Mapungubwe archaeological Iron-age site served as an inspiration for Anton de Jong and his team of ARC Architects when the new complex was designed.

The proximity of the new Engineering 3 building to the Aula made it the ideal occasion for integrating the new phase of the Aula, the Rautenbach Hall and the Musaion with the Engineering project.

The design of the theatre complex developed in such a way that the Aula's original façade was preserved. The new additions were included as a new form to the east of the main auditorium.

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