If Johannesburg is historically the city of gold, then you would be well advised to follow a GPS to discover the treasures of modern Mzansi civilisation at a place called Maboneng. It’s a precinct that has established itself as the city’s contemporary centre of urban culture, commerce and innovation.
While many people looked at Joburg’s City and Suburban area and saw a wasteland, Propertuity saw an opportunity to build a utopia. The property development group pursued the bright idea of having the newly christened Maboneng live up to its name (it means “place of lights” in Sesotho) by letting it shine above the shadowy perceptions of life in the city of Egoli.
What started out for the developers as a core focus on the arts has evolved into an area development project that has brought to life the creative hub and tourist destination we see today. The visionaries behind the project have successfully managed to transform a rundown section of Joburg’s inner city into a space that is accessible to people from all walks of life.
Maboneng has been the fertile soil in which small businesses have spread their roots of growth, becoming part of the cultural diversity that is endemic to the precinct. Many of the established entities within its boundaries have prospered through green initiatives and continue to recycle material to make new products.
2. Grab a bite under the lights
People who come to the precinct for either business or pleasure can explore the diverse dining scene by visiting restaurants that continuously come up with new cultural flavours to differentiate the Maboneng brand. You will walk away impressed by superb dishes and drinks from Pata Pata; be satisfied by the lekker fast foods served at Eksé; get to enjoy authentic Ethiopian food from Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant; indulge your carnivorous tastes with some of the most magnificent meat dishes at Che Argentine Grill; or even buy fresh produce and specialty food from The Green Grocer.
Babette’s Bread is widely considered the best thing to ever exist since ... sliced bread. The bakery carefully crafts its bread by hand-mixing and shaping dough using special techniques, and giving it a lengthy rising time to add depth to the flavour.
3. Business and amenities
The area is also home to some of the city’s most favourably reviewed beauty salons, artistic studios, talent agencies and schools that promote innovative thinking. Local businesses provide services that bring comfort and convenience to both residents and visitors. A good example of this is the Maboneng Laundry Lounge – a laundromat that caters to your laundry needs while supplying customers with enjoyable cups of freshly brewed coffee.
The retail stores that have set up shop in the precinct have identified gaps and plugged into untapped markets. This has allowed them to establish book shops that promote African literature (Bridge Books); make space for fashion boutiques with exclusive clothing brands (Unknown Union); give fresh talent a platform (POPArt Theatre); bring in an indie movie theatre (The Bioscope); and introduce lounge bars, cafés and restaurants to Maboneng.
Visual art is celebrated and appreciated in galleries such as The Agog Gallery, where two floors worth of exhibition space is dedicated to showcasing the works of young, up-and-coming artists as well as established creatives.
Art Afrique Gallery & Consultants is where you will find the colourful canvases, powerful prints and magnificent masterpieces produced in the company’s manufacturing studio.
Learning academies like SPARK Maboneng and non-profit organisations such as Skateistan have also been given space to offer affordable, globally competitive education, and run programmes that empower the youth with the knowledge and skills that can lead to new work opportunities.
Trim Park and Common Ground are also good examples of how the precinct has successfully repurposed old buildings and turned them into safe and clean recreational spaces.
4. Living in Maboneng
Maboneng is leading the pack in terms of new urban housing trends. Propertuity is responding to the market’s demands for home designs that deviate from the norm.
The well-curated lifestyle flats in the precinct allow residents to decorate and customise apartments according to their personal tastes. The buildings in the precinct also open a window onto the best sunrise/sunset views and splendid urban vistas over the city of Johannesburg.
Residents also get to enjoy the business and lifestyle options the area has to offer while staying in affordable shipping-container homes. The greener housing alternatives were introduced to the precinct in 2014 through a project that developed cargo containers into structures that can accommodate visitors and residents in spaces that support urban renewal and environmental conservation.
5. Urban culture
Maboneng is ideal for people looking for a perfect balance of work, pleasure and lifestyle options. It brings together artists, entrepreneurs, connoisseurs and the casual consumer to engage and share ideas in its studios, galleries, eateries and offices.
Visitors from all over the world come to the precinct for an authentic Afrocentric experience. The restaurants offer a diverse range of popular food and local cuisine. Leisure events take over the streets and fill up rooftops, showcasing the cultural richness of Maboneng, “a place of lights”. Weekend market venues are filled with desirable products from different parts of the continent. The unconventional office designs are also ideal for impressing clients and giving employees creative inspiration.
All this and more is exclusive to Maboneng – combined into a special blend of innovation and urban living. The place is easy to access via the M2 highway’s Joe Slovo interchange and offers secure street parking 24 hours a day. It is a great destination to escape to over weekends or even to settle down and live in: a paradise for anyone who wants to walk and live in the light of technological progress and organic urban growth.