Your collection of SA’s cities

The “city-in-a-box” range explores the urban topography of South African cities. City-in-a-Box pop-up cards are part of the series of products developed around the cities Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Cape Town and Joburg (to date).  The idea is simple – (re-)discover our cities or simply re-imagine them. The idea of a pop-up card was inspired by a small, square, white pop-up card of London, dating from 2011, which we bought at the Tate Modern. 

The Jozi card is framed with the landmark Top Star drive-in, which used to be located on an old mine dump next to Simmonds South Way to the south of the CBD in Johannesburg, and now belongs to the memory of the city.  The dump began in 1899 and by the late 1930s it was a well recognised part of the city skyline. The drive-in, also used for special events like film shoots, company events and product launches, was populat since the 1960s. The last movie was shown in the mid 2000s. The dump and drive-in had great significance to the people of Johannesburg particularly older Joburgers who remember catching a movie with the city skyline as a backdrop. Read more about the controversy of its demolition on the Heritage Portal website.

Then there is the mining belt – proof of the city’s origins – which has become an epic and surreal landscape of disappearing mine tailings, slime dams and the last remaining disused headgears. A major trend in Johannesburg over the decades has been the reclamation of old mine dumps.

The urban void of the reef – seemingly under developed – forms a dividing scar between the northern and southern parts of the city;  where appears to be a great distinction between the high-rise buildings of the financial and business district, and the older, much more modest structures lying further to the south.  The reason for this seeming under developed strip of land is that it is dangerous:  the area is underlain by the oldest mining sites in Johannesburg and has been, for several years, unsuitable for major development.

Also depicted on the Jozi card is the recently completed Circa on Jellicoe, which is a contemporary art gallery and new architectural landmark. Another landmark addition was the FNB Stadium, also known as Soccer City and The Calabash close to Soweto, which was constructed for the FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2010.

In the backdrop is the skyline of Johannesburg.  Look carefully to see 11 Diagonal Street – the skyscraper designed by the internationally renowned 80s architect Helmut Jahn.  Also see the Carlton Centre, which at 223 metres tall (50 floors), was the tallest office building in Africa until recently. It was designed by another famous architectural practice, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in the late 1960s.

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