Braamfontein

I snapped the image above from the Station Street entrance of the Braamfontein East Campus  - exiting the Wits gates. Photo taken on Sunday 17th November 2019. It reminded me of how much of a city university Wits is and how layered the city is in the buildings around us. 
 
In the foreground are the old corrugated iron semi-detached workers cottages (now the Performing Arts Administration of Wits’ School of Arts). This was once a home of an artisan - we know they were here as artisan’s residences of turn of the 20th century Braamfontein. 
 

Saturday 5 October 2019 was a heritage cum book day of note at the library complex to be found at Solomon Street. The weekend offered booklovers the annual City Library book sale spread over two days, hosted by the Friends of the Johannesburg Public Libraries and the Johannesburg Library and information services.
 

For reasons that I have never fully understood, between about 1968 and 1972, the Wits campus underwent a period where posters of all colours and sizes proliferated, advertising everything from Rag Ball to intervarsity rugby, from Nusas teach-ins to visiting lecturers, and from Fresher’s Reception to rock and roll festivals. Every now and again the apartheid thugs that ran the country would provoke a rash of political posters, and the SRC elections were always an active time for poster artists.

If you wish to depart this earth in a puff of smoke, Johannesburg has just the place for you. It has an excellent state of the art crematorium that has kept up with the times. Here is a heritage building with a difference. I have known about the crematorium since I was a child and attended a cremation service for the father of a friend.

In the article below, journalist Lucille Davie looks at the epic transformation of spaces across three buildings to form the Wits Art Museum (WAM). The piece is unique as Davie was able to draw from her experience on a behind the scenes tour shortly before WAM opened. The article was originally published on the City of Joburg's website on 6 March 2012. Click here to view more of Davie's work.

The William Cullen Library is a much loved landmark on Wits University's East Campus. It was built in 1934 on the west side of the Library Lawns and houses a vast number of valuable collections. The article below, compiled by Rowallan Hugh Fitchett, traces the architectural history of the building. It was originally published in a mid1990s edition of Between the Chains, the journal of the Johannesburg Historical Foundation.

Johannesburg is a gold mining city and, through the decades, there have been a number of disasters related to the industry. A walk through Johannesburg's cemeteries offers a visual history of premature loss through mine related explosions. The granite memorial in the Braamfontein Cemetery erected in memory of those who lost their lives in the great dynamite explosion of 1896, is still moving and offers a unique insight into Johannesburg history. 

 

In 1961 the "new" Johannesburg Civic Centre was being conceptualised. The City of Johannesburg invited architects to submit their plans for the new landmark building in an open competition. As part of this process the City issued a folder labelled Architectural competition / Boukindige Prysvrae containing a locality plan and detailed site plan.

In or around 1970, when the Department of Dramatic Art was about to open the following year, I was visited by John van Zyl and Art de Villiers, who had been appointed to the staff of the Dramatic Art Department.  They were in a bit of a panic because notwithstanding that the Department was opening in a matter of a few weeks, no provision had been made for a performing venue.

 

Subscribe to Braamfontein