The inner-city strikes back

Residential property Maboneng Precinct 

The development of residential accommodation in Maboneng has exploded exponentially.  In 2008 Jonathan Liebmann bought the DF Corlett construction offices and so Arts on Main was born. While this led to further remarkable urban renewal projects, the downside is that the upgrading and refurbing of inner city buildings often displaces previously marginalized impoverished people who find shelter in buildings relatively close to their work.  Until there is some plan on the part of the city to provide sustainable housing (a whole blog post in itself), this will cause ongoing controversy. 

However Maboneng Precinct needs to be seen within the broader global context of inner-city mixed-use developments. Areas like downtown Los Angeles, Surry Hills in Sydney, Shoreditch in London, Soho in New York are but a handful of examples of gentrification and urban renewal in neglected inner city spaces.  Here is an overview of some of the residential and mixed use developments in Maboneng.  Many have retained their historical references in both the architectural detail as well as in the names of the buildings. 

Some of the residential building development

Main Street Life 2010: 194 apartments fitted out by the cutting-edge local designer Doktor and Misses. Plus  it also houses The Bioscope (an indie cinema), POPArt theatre which has excellent short-run productions, 12 Decades Boutique Hotel and a couple of restaurants 286 Fox St.  Most of the buildings in Maboneng that were renovated between 2010 to 2015 were the work of Daffonchio and Associates Architects (in conjunction with Propertuity of course). 

Main Street Life 2010: 12 Decades Hotel; The Bioscope; POPArt; residential and restaurants

Revolution House 2012: 42 loft apartments all with balconies; 259 Main St.

Artisan Lofts 2014: 44 apartments; 260 Market St.  In 2012 the Cape Town based curator Ricky Lee Gordon launched the I Art Joburg project which left Joburg with 8 massive scale public murals on the outside of buildings. The MAMA mural by Steve ‘Espo’ Powers below right was one of these works. 

Revolution House 2012 with newly added external balconies; 259 Main St. Source: Propertuity
Artisans Lofts 2014 with MAMA mural by Steve ‘Espo’ Powers; 260 Market St. Source: Propertuity






Fox St Studios 2013: 3 apartments and an office. This building originally housed a print warehouse; 280 Fox St

Remed’s View  2014: 106 beds for student accommodation in co-living spaces; 306 Commissioner St.   The facade decoration which was also part of the 2012 I Art Joburg project,  is by the Madrid artist Remed. He apparently visited Origins Centre shortly after arriving in Joburg and his encounter with rock art inspired the mural on this building. 

Remed’s View with facade artwork by Remed. Source:Propertuity
















Urban Fox 2014: 8 rooftop apartments; retail space on ground floor; 274 Fox St 

58 Auret  2015:  50 low rent apartments.  No prizes for guessing the address of this building. 

Living MOAD 2015: 32 apartments; 281 Commissioner St . The apartments have exposed brick work and boasts a style of  ‘fire-escape chic’. Living is adjacent to MOAD, the Museum of African Design. 

Rocket Factory 2015: 42 apartments; 20 Kruger St. This building dates back to the 1930s. Jonathan Liebmann of Propertuity and  Marcus Neustetter (the artist who conceptualized the facade mural), saw the chimney on the roof which looks a lot like a rocket and then learnt that there was a rocket factory in this area. They wondered if this was the building that housed the factory.  Marcus Neustetter’s artwork makes reference to this history/myth as it is a Google Earth trace of the area, a satellite’s perspective sent from space. 

Rocket Factory with rocket-like chimney on the roof and facade art work by Marcus Neustetter Source: Propertuity
Rocket Factory: Contemporary internal design Source Propertuity








Situation East 2015: 47 apartments; 308 Fox St. The name refers both to its eastern location on Fox St as well as to the Situationist Movement.  Local Studio are the architects. 

Sand hill 2015 19 apartments; 310 Fox St. This building has a beautiful Art Deco facade. 

Sandhill’s Art Deco facade 310 Fox St Source: Propertuity






Craftmen’s Ship 2016: 165 apartments; 260 Main St.  This development combines the refurbishment of an old industrial building with a new build. The building name and the facade decor by Stephen Hobbs takes its inspiration from the dazzle patterns of World War  II ships, patterns which were thought to confuse the enemy. 

Craftmen’s Ship. Source:Propertuity
Craftmen’s Ship Interior. Source: Propertuity









 Hallmark House 2017: 155 apartments & 46 hotel units; 54 Siemert Rd.  The renovations were overseen by David Adaye.  Hallmark House is the subject of a further blog.   On 13th May there is also a Johannesburg Heritage Foundation Tour of New Doornfontein which will include a visit to Hallmark House.   See summary of their programme 

Buildings in progress

Aerial Empire 2017:   8 apartments and 8 studios in a mixed-use development -residential, retail and manufacturing; 7 Sivewright St.  This complex, re-designed by Local Studio, comprises a collection of seven old buildings which, in the 1930s, were home to hat making factories and later Aerial Manufacturers resulting in the current name of the development.  

Drivelines  2017: 101 apartments by LO-TEK; 213 Albertina Sisulu St.   The previous car repair shop has been turned into a very exciting mixed-use residential and retail development. The 7 story building is made up entirely of containers and is designed by the well-known New York architects LO-TEK

Concept plan for apartment design Drivelines . Source: LO-TEK
Design of apartment in Drivelines. Source: LO-TEK






Evolution House 2017:  27 apartments by ATMOS architecture; Cnr Kruger and Fox Sts. This building takes its name from its neighbour Revolution House. 

Market Up 3 2017:  mixed use residential, office and retail;Van Beek St New Doornfontein  

Huff and Gooden Architect’s Concept Design for Market Up 3 Van Beek St New Doornfontein. Source: Propertuity







The Beacon Street border of the development meets the Common Ground park, additional retail and a primary school: SPARK Maboneng.  

Common Ground park. Source: Propertuity

More on Spark in a further blog.  Spark, Maboneng launched in January 2015, and is an affordable private education offering for children in Grade R to Grade 3. 

Exploring Maboneng 

It is well worth doing a tour of Maboneng to see some of these amazing developments and to experience the buzz of the neighbourhood. Contact Bheke Dube of Main Street Walks, an initiative which started back in 2011.  There is also a shuttle bus Mabo’go which has 8 stops within the neighbourhood. 


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