Early on a cold winter’s morning, we gathered around the coffee cart at the PIA office and after all the formalities, we piled into the bus that would take us to the East Rand.
At our starting point, the Benoni Town Hall, we met our guide for the day. Jeffrey Cole is a professional architect, an industrial process planning expert and a partner in two Johannesburg Architectural practices, as well as a Brisbane Architectural practice. He has been involved in the documentation and restoration of a number of heritage buildings from the very start of his career, including a selection of Art Deco buildings with both South Africa and Mozambique. He is currently in the process of establishing the Gauteng Art Deco Society and is working together with post graduate students in the school of architecture at the University of the Witwatersrand to document the Art Deco heritage of the East Rand and beyond. (Excerpt from Jeffrey Cole’s CV as supplied by the PIA)
The Benoni Town Hall was designed by Joseph Lockwood Hall and completed in 1938. From there we walked to the old Benoni Shul, a beautiful face brick building with a near perfect parabolic arch, completed in 1932. The rest of our route took us past the beautiful Greek Orthodox Church to the city centre where the bus picked us up again.
From Benoni we drove to Springs, via an ice cream stop at Fireplace Roadhouse in Boksburg. Brrrrr! Springs is the town with the second highest number of small scale Art Deco buildings in the world, second only to Miami, USA. For this reason they are in the process of applying for world heritage status and Ekhuruleni municipality is giving tax incentives to the owners of these buildings if the building is well maintained. We started in 3rd street and walked all the way to the beautiful art deco fire station and returned to the bus via 2nd street. All the buildings still have their names written in the beautiful art deco fonts and all the art deco style handrails and timber flag poles are still there.
We ended the day with lunch at the Casbah Roadhouse before heading home. Thank you to the PIA for organising the tour and Duravit for sponsoring the day.