VIRTUAL TOUR THROUGH THE SUPREME COURT
This virtual tour of the Supreme Court building draws generously from the description of the concept provided by its designer, of effie lentin architects, Swakopmund.
The architectural language of the building makes liberal use of references to North African architecture. The architect believed the civic architecture of independent Namibia should be different from that of the preceding regimes and that the inspiration for its design could fruitfully be found elsewhere in Africa rather than merely copying a European model.
The concept of the airy semi-covered street with its lacy roof covering which is found in abundance in other African countries, for example, is used to great effect in the building. The colour study gives some idea of the interesting shadow-play created along the colonnaded walkways by means of horizontal prefabricated concrete slats which serve to distil the raw sunlight.
The design concept envisaged the hierarchy of space consisting of what may be conveniently called the public, semi-private and private domains of the building. The ordered progression from public to private domain is characterized by the front façade with its large glass areas, columns and walkways leading to the rear of the building. An important aspect of circulation the architects took into account in the design concept was accessibility to the building by the physically challenged. Accordingly, a series of pedestrian ramps on either side of the front façade offer alternative routes to the entrance and the gardens. The majority of visitors will use the very impressive flight of stairs leading to the main entrance.
Entrance and Foyer
The public domain consists of the public entrance and foyer, an open courtyard with a courtroom on either side, public galleries and court rooms as well as a memorial garden.
A visitor intending to enter the spacious public foyer-cum-waiting area on the next level of the building may use any of the two staircases or a small glass-fronted lift. It is in the foyer or waiting area that the general public and members of the media may wait and stroll before and/or after a court hearing.
Public Galleries and Court Rooms
There is a secondary staircase on either side of the foyer that a visitor may use to enter the public galleries of any of the two courtrooms. Less conspicuous perhaps are the entrances to the legal practitioners' robing rooms in front of each courtroom.
The public gallery and media corner of each courtroom is raised from the level of the Court to enable the utilization of the space underneath. Each gallery can accommodate up of 36 persons.
Should the carrying capacity of the gallery prove inadequate, when, for example, a high-profiled case is being argued, the public foyer would act as an overflow to which sound could be relayed.
The bench for the Judges is substantially raised so as to correspond with the entrance from the Judges' chambers behind. Also slightly raised is what may be called the Judge's clerk's bench just below the bench for the Judges. The rest of the space in the Court is taken up by the benches for the legal practitioners and the litigants.
The memorial garden is incorporated in the open courtyard, right in the center of the building. The memorial garden was initially incorporated in memory of the late Chief Justice Hans Berker, our first Chief Justice, who played a pivotal role in the creation of this imposing building.
Following his passing, a white marble bust of Chief Justice Berker was unveiled in the memorial garden. This was followed by the erection of a bust of the late Chief Justice Ishmail Mahomed, our second Chief Justice (and later Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa).
You will find the busts of these illustrious Chief Justices in the center of the memorial garden surrounded by a water element, planting and seating.