Urban renewal: green shoots in heart of Bez Valley
An abandoned suburban area becomes a place of productivity and creativity
Victoria Yards, a formerly derelict industrial zone in the heart of Johannesburg’s neglected Bezuidenhout Valley is undergoing an extensive makeover that began in October last year. Property developer Brian Green says: "I walked onto the property and saw these dilapidated old buildings, filled with informal chop shops and the like. I thought the buildings were potentially very beautiful. The [grounds] could be turned into a farm; people from the area could be trained to plant and propagate edible plants, and the buildings could be filled with artisans and artists. The artisans could employ assistants and help them obtain skills." Many artists, including Blessing Ngobeni, Craig Smith, Dario Manjate, Ayanda Mabulu, Claudia Schneider and Happy Dhlame, have moved in. Benon Lutaaya, whose talent — along with some serious entrepreneurial instincts — has earned him a waiting list for his paintings and collages, has established not only a studio, but also a space for collaboration with inte...
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