Gauteng

A visit to the bustling Oriental Plaza today hides the dark history of its apartheid origins. Opening in 1971, it was the result of a compromise between the Johannesburg City Council and the Department of Community Development over the future of Indian Traders in Pageview. In the article below Nigel Mandy highlights the many tragedies of the flawed ideology behind the relocation of traders to the Plaza.

[Originally published 24 April 2013] In 2009 local businessman Gerrit van der Stelt stumbled across a small demolition notice attached to a boundary wall of the highly significant Tait House in Benoni. What followed was a desperate struggle by the community to preserve the historic home. The Heritage Portal is happy to report that not only is the house still standing but it could also become a powerful symbol of the ability of old and new to coexist and thrive.

After many years of depressing headlines there is finally some good news for the Germiston Carnegie Library. The following fascinating piece has been compiled by Nicholas Clarke, the heritage consultant on the project. [Originally published 13 October 2014]

[Intro originally published 30 July 2015] Last week we visited the Modderfontein Historic Village to hear about plans that development firm Zendai has for the area but more specifically to hear what will happen to the historic buildings on site. We were told that it is too early to go into specific details but the buildings will be retained and used as a major selling point for whatever use is decided. One of the ideas mentioned in passing was that the buildings could form part of a new University.

[Originally published 2 September 2015] The Standard Bank Gallery has put on something incredibly special and you only have until 12 September 2015 to see it. This is, of course, the Pierneef Exhibition. Kathy Munro, Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits, visited the exhibition recently and compiled this absorbing piece. Enjoy.

[Intro originally published in March 2013] A few weeks ago we visited Yukon, the famous historic mansion in Bez Valley. The owners, Henry and Loretta, gave us an overview of the mystery and intrigue behind the disappearance of the house's hugely significant stained glass windows. It would be fantastic if we could find them and bring them home to South Africa. Below is a brilliant article from the Saturday Star (1993) that gives some background to the saga.

[Originally published 11 July 2014] A modern day mystery appears to be developing in Highland Road, Kensington. No one seems to know what has happened to Marius Van Den Spek, the apparent owner of the iconic Kensington Castle. Over the last few years the property has fallen into disrepair with various sources stating that Marius has abandoned his inheritance (along with a very large council bill).

The Rand Club is one of Johannesburg's great landmarks. It has a rich and controversial history and remains a major attraction for the public on occasions when access is arranged. Kathy Munro, Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits, visited the Club recently exploring every nook and cranny and pondering the future of this iconic institution. The Club has been reinventing itself for a number of years but tough decisions lie ahead...

The following epic case study, written by Albrecht Holm, appeared in a 1996/7 edition of the old Johannesburg Historical Foundation's Journal 'Between the Chains'. It not only highlights the significance of the site but also the skill of a spectrum of professionals needed to achieve the spectacular result.

Below is an 'eye-witness' account of the opening of the Krugersdorp Town Hall Clock in 1908. The account appeared in the June 1908 edition of the South African Railway Magazine. It is interesting to see Mr Collins make good use of a splendid public relations opportunity. Thank you to the Heritage Office at Transnet for giving us access to their archives.

Over the last few weeks there has been considerable discussion about the shocking state of George Harrison Park in Langlaagte (the site commemorating the discovery of the largest goldfield on earth). In the following thought-provoking piece Gavin Whitfield, geological consultant and author, argues that we should 'not waste further effort on maintaining this important heritage site as it is...'

History

News emerged last week that the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) is considering using Joubert Park as a temporary taxi facility while upgrades to the Jack Mincer rank are made. This has outraged many Johannesburg citizens and organisations. In the article below Kathy Munro explores the history and significance of Johannesburg's oldest park. If you would like to see Joubert Park remain as it is feel free to sign this petition.

In the article below Kathy Munro, Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand, unpacks the layers of the wonderful friendship between Mohandas Gandhi and Hermann Kallenbach. The piece was inspired by the unveiling of a statue of the two men in Rusne Lithuania in October 2015. Kathy also asks whether it is time for a similar statue to be created and unveiled in Johannesburg.

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