The old BKB Building on Settlers Way, East London, changed name to River Park in 1999 when it was purchased by the River Group to house their head office. Since that time some significant renovations have been made on the inside to facilitate the various departments within the ministry.
Other spaces, in particular the main broadcast studio, have remained virtually untouched. Faith Broadcasting Network (a division of the River Group) has recently embarked on the renovation of their main broadcast studio.
River Park, an iconic landmark on the East Bank of East London, is now to join other major construction work already done and in progress in lower East London area. Fort Hare University have bought out many buildings, and built some new ones; the Department of Home Affairs recently completed a major renovation on the corner of Fleet and Cambridge Streets; the Defence Force is in the process of putting a new face on the Old Drill Hall on the corner of Fleet and Buffalo Streets; a new shopping complex is nearing completion on the site of the old Charlie’s Taxi Rank opposite Fleet Street police station.
A work order contract was signed during a live television broadcast between Avalon Steel Projects and Ps André Roebert, on behalf of Faith Broadcasting Network for the start of a major renovation to River Park that will change the skyline of East London. The well known and weather-beaten saw tooth asbestos and steel roof will be deconstructed in the next few months and replaced with a new steel dome roof at a cost of approximately R30 million. This dome is phase one of planned renovations to the outer façade of River Park, which in the near future will look less like the nowfamiliar FCU warehouse, and more in line with the surrounding corporate and institutional buildings.
The added benefit of removing the asbestos roof is that the River Group will directly contribute to the recommendations of the World Health Organisation in creating a safer environment. The WHO recommends “replacing asbestos with safer substitutes and developing economic and technological mechanisms to stimulate its replacement” as one solution to harmful substances affecting the health of people.
The expected date of completion is set for early December 2015, and by then visitors to East London will be greeted by an expected landmark at the gateway to the city. The plans of Fjord Jordaan and his team at Imbobo FJA Architects have envisioned a beautiful structure that locals can well be proud of in the future, says Dr Waldo Malan, Director of Media Services of the River Group.