Propertuity’s new Maboneng headquarters is a nod to the past and an investment in the future of this thriving Johannesburg area
It’s so much easier to buy into a concept when the company selling it does so emphatically. Propertuity, South Africa’s urban regeneration pioneer, has invested hugely in Maboneng and is gradually building a neighbourhood of affordable forward-thinking residential developments, mixed-use spaces and cultural hot spots. Its entire Johannesburg operation is based there, too, in Siemert Street. The wedge-shaped Flatiron-esque building commands a corner across from the soon-to-be-complete Hallmark House hotel.
“Propertuity has injected its signature art and design expertise into the public spaces”
A joint venture with property developer Quorum, with whom Propertuity has joined forces on a number of buildings, Work + Art is a six-storey building that used to be owned by Weil and Asheim, a major investment group whose CEOs included famous Joburg businessman such as Manny Simchowitz and Brian Joffe.
Their success resulted in a luxurious space whose signs of prosperity can still be seen in architectural details such as the wooden panelling and marble bathrooms. After they moved on, the building became the base of numerous clothing manufacturers (Doornfontein has a long history as a centre for CMTs). All this history helped to inform the spirit of the current incarnation, from the design to the name – Work + Art refers to the original owners, as well as a valuable private art collection the building once housed. ‘We chose it because, in addition to the fact that it’s a fantastic building – together with Hallmark opposite – it forms a commanding presence and represents our vision for the area, something you experience visually as you come off the highway and up Siemert Street,’ says Neil Eliason from Quorum.
As with all Propertuity developments, it has a unique identity, sophisticated design and community focus. In addition to Propertuity and Quorum on the sixth floor, there are a number of anchor tenants, including Nedbank retail and Stallion Security. SMEs and consultancies occupy the rest. Propertuity has injected its signature art and design expertise into the public spaces, as well as its Mad Men meets edgy urban sixth-floor HQ, which is a tribute to the mid-century history of the space. ‘Our upgrade has tried to reinforce this language as it sits well with the progressive ethos of the building and its tenants,’ says Jonathan Liebmann, founder of Propertuity.
In line with this, Aimee Henning of Malica Design has created a subdued and sophisticated environment with meeting pods, velvet sofas in jewel tones and elegant wood-and-metallic panelling
It all feels surprisingly and wonderfully cosy and old world, offsetting the real urbanness of the street below.
From the facade with its sculptural steel and landscaping installation, to the surrounding pocket park and the foyer’s vibrant sculptures and artwork, the effect is dynamic and alive with plants, colour and people.
The rooftop, too, features artwork by rising young artists Jake Singer and David Brits, which frame the skyline to quite breathtaking effect. And, while it does have a rich art culture, contrary to popular belief (or public assumption), Maboneng is not just an area for bars and galleries.
There is a thriving property market – both investment and rental (which is Propertuity’s biggest business) – and one where Propertuity is carving out a niche as leaders in accessible but desirable housing. Its vision for spaces and how they can assume an identity makes its developments stand out from many generic apartment blocks going up around South Africa. Each draws on the history of the area – whether through its name or by using an existing piece of the city and adding to it – so that the character of the area has never been lost, despite massive regeneration, a vote of confidence in what the city has been, and can be.
This confidence is contagious, and not just with the public. Massive corporates and big-name architects have put their stamp of approval on the vision, including David Adjaye, whose collaboration with Propertuity on Hallmark House is one of the most eagerly anticipated hospitality projects in Joburg history, as well as finance giant RMH’s investment in a third of Propertuity as part of its new niche property portfolio. propertuity.co.za