Maboneng, a mixed use precinct which has taken root within the gritty boundaries of Johannesburg’s infamous inner city, has once again broken new ground.
Once the uncontested domain of numerous ‘bad buildings’ and some of Johannesburg’s most unsavoury social elements, Johannesburg’s inner city has slowly but surely been undergoing a makeover over the past few years catalysed largely by a few forward thinking corporate companies, initiatives implemented by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Council and a few dynamic property developers.
Of the various regeneration initiatives, Maboneng is arguably one of the most successful. The brainchild of property developer Jonathan Liebmann and acclaimed sustainable architect Enrico Daffonchio, Maboneng has been developed with a view to providing a safe, culturally diverse mixed-use precinct which encourages artistic collaborations.
The latest addition to the precinct is ‘Curiocity’, an affordably priced backpacker’s lodge located at 302 Fox Street in the heart of Maboneng. Curiocity offers a total of 54 beds divided between dormitories, private rooms and female only accommodation from as little as R150 per night. Curiocity will also feature its own swimming pool, hide-out bar, recreational room, shisa nyama (braai area) and collaboration area.
But it’s the activities on Curiocity’s doorstep that will make it a truly unique place to stay. Guests will have the run of the city’s pubs, restaurants, shops and markets and be able to participate in the various local bicycle and walking tours and community volunteer projects.
Maboneng’s MainStreetWalks owner and managing partner at Curiocity, Bheki Dube, has made available these experiences for tourists to see and feel the ‘real’ Joburg. “The way I see it, I have been given a very rare opportunity to share how I engage with my city with people from all over the world,” notes Dube. “I’m passionate about giving people an authentic experience, one that is true to how things really are, not just what we want visitors to see”.
Curiocity will also embody another core value of Maboneng - making it a haven for creative and cultural production. Curiocity will provide an artist exchange for local and international artists to stay for free in exchange for art. The collaboration and exhibition areas incorporated into Curiocity will allow artists to exhibit work and collaborate with local artists in a variety of fields during their stay.
With Curiocity up and running, Maboneng’s reputation as a leading tourism destination has been bolstered and the backpacker’s should have a tangible impact on inner city tourism. The backpacker’s is but one of many projects planned for the area. Ambitious plans are afoot to convert a number of old buildings into contemporary, multi-functional nodes. Maboneng has deservedly captured the imagination of both the local and international community and looks set to continue acting as a shining example of what can be achieved when the status quo is challenged.