WIT Press

Ruins Of The Past: Industrial Heritage In Johannesburg


Free (open access)





Page Range

533 - 542




1,125 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


M. Läuferts & J. Mavunganidze


Industrial heritage is a phrase rarely used in South Africa. This is a huge setback in the heritage circles of this country since it constitutes a major part of its history. South Africa and indeed many other developing countries have fallen behind the rest of the world in recognizing, declaring and protecting their industrial heritage. It is this understanding that made us realize that the lack of attention and awareness of old industrial structures would in the future lead to their extinction. Buildings that would qualify as industrial heritage, when out of use, are left abandoned and later condemned then demolished, therefore remaining ruins of the past. This paper endeavours to cast awareness on the high architectural and cultural significance that some industrial buildings from late 19th to mid 20th century possess. It aims to show how they form part of the urban landscape and provide the cityscape with visual historical landmarks. The inclusion of these buildings in the regeneration of the city will help protect the City’s cultural heritage. The City of Johannesburg must look beyond its boundaries to understand the importance of the reuse of industrial heritage. The adaptation of these buildings will only be widely practised if a number of steps are taken with consistency. The ultimate protection of the buildings will require a shift in mindset where this kind of heritage is seen as equally important as any other heritage. Awareness campaigns, educational programs and tougher legislation need to be addressed to make the reuse of industrial structures sustainable and make them become part of the urban lifestyle. Keywords: industrial heritage, architectural history, Johannesburg, Gas Works, redevelopment, identity, community.


industrial heritage, architectural history, Johannesburg, Gas Works, redevelopment, identity, community