Taken on the corner of Chiapinni St and Helliger Ln, this striated sky depicts the sun shining in on the colourful homes of the Bo Kaap. Bo Kaap is situated on the slopes of Signal Hill in Cape Town between Buitengracht St, Strand St and Carisbrook Street. The area is home to the largest collection of pre-1850 architecture in South Africa as well as the oldest Mosques. Previously known as the Malay quarter, the area was where free slaves settled in the 18th Century. Most slaves were from South East Asia and the name Malay is not necessarily correct but is what history gives us.
I sat for many hours reading up on the internet and watching videos about the Bo Kaap to decide what I should write about and what to name this piece. All the information reminded me how in society we are so often polarised, black or white. Bo Kaap was once a microcosm of different cultures but Apartheid took that away with the group areas act making the Bo Kaap a “Cape Malay” area.
One topic that is hot right now is the gentrification of the Bo Kaap. Given its close proximity to the city, makes the Bo Kaap a great place for outsiders to buy up homes that are in disrepair and to restore them. Many people see this as a great opportunity as house prices increase and the area develops. The down side of this is that original dwellers can no longer afford to live in the area and are “forced” to sell their homes thus resulting in a loss of the cultural heritage of the area.
The question we have to ask is: are the Bo Kaap’s true colours not in the culture of the residents as opposed to the brightly coloured buildings. What attracts tourists to the area? I believe that we need to make sure that the areas cultural heritage is kept in tact and that while the upliftment and development of the area is required it should not come at the expense of local’s heritage and history.
The beauty of the Architecture in the Bo Kaap is one aspect of the area, I would suggest a visit to see the amazing beauty but look at learning a little about the people of the area, this is some advice that I need to take up myself.
Some of the Sources of my information:
In 2012 Helen Gibb released a series of documentaries on YouTube which give a personal account of history and the current state of Bo Kaap (unfortunately part 5 of the series is muted to apparent copyright infringement).
Siteseer.tv encourage tourists to visit the Bo Kaap as well as many other Cape Town destinations.
Anouk Zijlma writes a great article o the Bo Kaap here
Bo Kaap Mapping
Cape Chameleon Cover Story
Bo Kaap Museum website
Cape Town Hoods Bo Kaap Page
The Nieuwoudtville Dutch Reformed Church towers over the very small town of Nieuwoudtville. The Church a Gothic Cross style Church was designed by John Gaisford. The cornerstone was laid in 1906. The church seats 500 with oak pews. The town of Nieuwoudtville has between 1000 and 2000 people. The church is built of Tafelberg sandstone and stands out above the dusty town.
The day we visited the area in front of the church was carpeted with purple flowers. The church was open and we went inside. There was a strange history posted on the notice board which you can read below. We climbed up into the church steeple to see the bell. Click here to see more pictures inside the church.
Thesen Islands Turbine Hotel was established in 2010. The hotel is housed in the refurbished power station that was in operation on the island from 1939 to 2001 when the power station was decommissioned.
Thesen islands is named after Charles William Thesen who bought the island (it was called Paarden island at the time) in 1922 in order to process timber. The Thesen family had moved from Norway to Knysna in 1870 and founded numerous business entities in the town. The wood processing plant resulted in waste. This was used as fuel to power the turbines for electricity generation.
In 1974 Barlows, purchased the logging operations. The operations on the islands were decommissioned in early 1980 due to the adverse environment impact they caused. Barlow sold the islands for re-development and CMAI went on to develop the Islands into the internationally acclaimed marina development it is today, housing the Thesen Harbour Town with its shops, restaurants and hotels, together with 596 residential houses and apartments, 19 interlinked islands and numerous canals.
A museum concept for the old power station never materialized and the site was sold to the current Hotel owner and operators, Geoff Engel and Dandre Lerm, in September 2007. Rezoning, approvals and building of the site took almost 3 years and the full operation commenced trading on 12 August 2010.
I have did not stay at the hotel so I cannot comment on it. The hotel website gives the following description. The Turbine Hotel & Spa comprises 24 bedrooms and suites, an Amani African Spa, the 90 seater Island Café, The Turbine Tapas Bar, together with Conference facilities, pool deck, jetty for motorized pontoon cruises and a host of modern facilities which tastefully complement the refurbished facilities and equipment which have been bought back to life around the property. The original wood boiler, four electricity generators and much of the equipment have been fully restored and blend in with the hotel’s décor themes. Each bedroom has been individually decorated and is themed and named to reflect the rich cultural, historical and geographic diversity of Knysna.
Knysna is a great tourist destination and part of the Garden Route which is a must for any savy traveller. It is known for its many festivals, which you can check put here. Make sure you take a trip through the garden route and spend time in Knysna.
For more information visit:
When you start your day with an early morning meeting in Cape Town and you have to travel down the N1 to get there. When you hate sitting in traffic and therefore leave before sunrise to miss it. These were prerequisites for the photo that inspired this early morning coffee picture. I am not a fan of traffic and given that at the V&A there is a 24hr McDonalds you can have a cup of coffee before your meeting, prepare and look at the amazing view.
The view includes the construction of the Zeitz MOCAA. I have spoken about this in a previous blog, although looking back I did not write much about it. I remember that it was because there is not that much information freely available on the net. There is an update on the Siloblog, which gives some pictures and a completion date of the end of 2016. Until the museum opens, the Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion is open with free admission. The pavillion can be found near Bascule Bridge at the V&A and is open from 12 – 8 PM, every Wednesday to Sunday.
The museum is going to provide a cultural boost to the area which should have a positive effect economically for the CBD. The development in this part of the V&A are providing a link to the CBD.
Do not wait until 2016 to visit Cape Town for this awesome new museum, come to Cape Town this Summer and then again next year. I can tell you right now that there is more than enough to do here and it would take years of trips to get it all done.
This week we are taken back to Stellenbosch for a striated sky above the Ou Hoofgebou (Old Main Building). The building which is on Ryneveld street, Stellenbosch University Campus was built between 1880 and 1886. The building was designed by Carl Otto Hager. In 1964 the side wings were extended and the west wing added. The building was declared a national monument in 1979.
Carl Otto Hager was born and raised in Germany. We came out to South Africa in December 1838. Mr Hager who studied art/architecture in Germany worked at a portraitist, a tobaconist, photographer and only late in life did he make a success as an architect focussing on church buildings. For more information on Carl Otto Hager click here and here.
This building is absolutely stunning and is one of many national monuments that can be found in Stellenbosch. When you take your trip to Stellenbosch be sure to visit this building.