South Africa

Maboneng Precinct




Considered a “no-go” zone in the 1980s, Maboneng was a deserted area of Johannesburg filled with abandoned factories and warehouses, rife with crime.  Today it is an arts district bursting with galleries, boutique shops, businesses, studio space and restaurants. 


In 2008, the Arts on Main complex was conceived by developer Johnathan Liebmann who purchased old construction offices and warehouses and, in conjunction with sustainable architect Enrico Daffonchio, restored the space into what is considered the heart of the precinct.  While keeping its original architectural character, Arts on Main mingles office space with shops and galleries where Johannesburg’s creative community can come together to work and relax.  Main Change has its roots in a run-down building now converted into a complex of offices and working spaces for innovative start-ups and freelancers. 


2010 saw the opening of Main Street Life, a 1970s industrial building, now a housing and lifestyle complex.  With residents living upstairs, the ground floor includes an exhibition space, restaurants, and the Bioscope cinema, which exhibits local and international films not shown in mainstream theatres.  The rooftop contains an open-air boxing gym and a bar.  On the top floor of the building is the 12 Decades Art Hotel, where each individually-designed room represents one of the past 12 decades of Johannesburg’s history.  A Sotho word meaning “place of light”, Maboneng has become the center of creative energy for the city’s artists.



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