Downtown Johannesburg has radically changed for its intended purpose in recent years. The economic hub of Africa has shifted just shy of 20 KM to the north, and immersed its financial prowess in the affluent area of Sandton.
The resulting departure of the corporate world has left a gap in the consumer market for innovation, artisanal ventures and modern urban developments. Just as Cape Town has it’s own fringe district, downtown Johannesburg can claim its own hub of cultural cohesion and urban synergy in the Maboneng precinct.
Maboneng, which is directly translated to “place of light”, is indeed an illuminated neighbourhood. The trendy urban renewal has allowed for a craftsman’s dream of artisanal potential. Permanent residents are being lured in with the value of living in the a contemporary and modern area of downtown Johannesburg. The thriving culture of art, as well as the advertising agencies that have made the precinct home base, contributes to the creative exuberance of Maboneng.
Downtown Johannesburg - Maboneng residential
As soon as an area becomes “renewed” and given a urban makeover, the potential for people wanting to dwell there will increase. In Maboneng, the market has opened its doors for permanent residency.
Due to the influx of young, “up-and-coming” Johannesburg residents moving into the exciting neighbourhood, Maboneng has renovated its buildings to reflect modern, contemporary apartments. The homes are lavished with the design and decor to suit any the aspirational values of the young, hip, creative and open-minded urban adventurers of Johannesburg.1 bedroom apartments are all the rage in this precinct, offering single workers or young couples a chance to simplify their living environments and to share a close bond with the community and it’s happening culture.
The Maboneng district is essence has become the new hotspot of downtown Johannesburg and is creatively catering to its residents by attracting many business owners.
Downtown Johannesburg - Maboneng Business
Maboneng offers residents and local tourists of a gateway into a retro lifestyle. Many of the precinct’s unique and indigenous offerings are found in Main Street Life, a 70’s industrial complex which has been reorganised into building offering niche interests for a growing urban market.
Tourists will find the 12 Decade Johannesburg Hotel in this building complex. The hotel offers guests a 360˚ view of the surrounding urban jungle of downtown Johannesburg. The USP? Each room in the hotel has been individually designed to recreate one of the past 12 decades of Johannesburg’s history. The building also houses an entertainment platform catering to a growing market interest - oldschool theatre. “The Bioscope” is open every night and showcases a unique reel of local films and documentaries. Rooftop boxing is on offer, pulling in the “health market” and providing an interesting angle on the popular combat sport.
Arts on Main, another urban development in Maboneng, offers the downtown Johannesburg precinct’s fashionistas a playground of retail heaven. Black Coffee Fashion, Loin Clothes and Ashes, and Nickel Boutique being a few local and lekker brands. Every Sunday, the greater Johannesburg population is invited to the community based collaborative event Market on Main. The weekly platter serves as a platform for local food artisans to showcase their smorgasbord of unique culinary delights.
In addition to fashion and food, Maboneng offers craft, jewellery and design-based boutiques. As the area expands its borders, the room for investment will grow.
Downtown Johannesburg - Maboneng Culture
The collective culture is captured in the laissez faire creative freedom of the neighbourhood. Art in itself as a medium of expression has created the underlying atmosphere that is felt throughout the streets of Maboneng.
The precinct is home to a number of modern art galleries, which bring in a growing number of patrons. Artists have also set up their private studios in Maboneng, contributing to the growing portrait of cultures and trades.
It would seem that Maboneng isn’t the only neighborhood in downtown Johannesburg in the middle change. A similar scenario has been underway in nearby Braamfontein, where the colours of the surrounding building signify a neighbourhood undergoing social renewal
Downtown Johannesburg- Next up on the South African innovation scene…
Cape Town and Durban have successfully facilitated periods of ongoing urban renewal and neighbourhood “space innovation”. Perhaps we will see Durban inspired to rejuvenate it’s urban jungle and bring innovation to the coastal city’s streets.