Nikita Schweizer

University of Cape Town


On a wednesday morning in Johannesburg, The Metropolis Game dealt out the following cards: The Night Shifter, The Library, a Warm Material and Gathering. These served as the spark, which later merged into a building that breathes in light, like air to lungs.

The Night Shifter: Either late-night working hours or something which changes as the night rolls in. Or, perhaps both? A Warm Material: Light – the most accessible and inexpensive architectural material. Gathering: Denoted by light. The Library: A building that celebrates both light and its absence.

With these in mind, a project that was subject to light and time emerged, constantly in a shifting state of change. The building rotates in use every 24 hours: from library to night school to bakery. As one part of the building shuts down, another lights up. Time is visible in layers. The existing façade remains, shadowed by a second skin. Sunlight moves through it into the building, while artificial light is thrown out. A beacon sits above the atrium; a beam of light serves as its vertical element. It aims to connect the imagined family of Night Shifters; 24/7 human-like buildings dotted across the city that form a network between them.

The building is personified as The Night Shifter. Without light, this building remains stagnant - an empty shell. By day, sunlight breathes life into this space. By night, the building glows from within - the midnight guardian of a community; ever watchful. In the dark of the library, the books sleep. Emerging by day to break their hibernation, as the light of the sun though an open window touches their pages.