Walking around the new Rand Steam shopping complex on the corner of Barry Hertzog Avenue and Napier Street in Richmond, I wonder what it looked like shortly after Johannesburg was founded. It takes a stretch of the imagination but there is a certain feeling conjured up by the space that makes you think it’s somewhat special. Built on the site of the original Rand Steam Laundries and, before that, the workspace of the Ama-Washa Zulu washermen of the late 19th century, Rand Steam opened at the end of April and is alive with history, yet teeming with new life. Because the site was declared a heritage site in 2007, the developers worked with the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation to rebuild the original structures that were largely demolished in 2008. The result is a relaxed vibe of steampunk industrial meets green urban. A mix of old and modern architecture effortlessly combines to create something new in commemoration of what stood before. Touches of hidden history scattered throughout ...

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