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South Africa

You are only moments away

IIf calamity were to strike humanity, and archaeologists of a distant future were to enquire about how we lived, they would draw upon our architecture to paint a picture of who we were.

They would wander along the narrow traces of our townships, marvel at our resilience in the face of adversity. They would comb through the delicate ruins and begin to imagine the sounds and smells, imagine the dark wending spaces, the makeshift soccer fields bubbling with the laughter of children, the sound of communities debating their future in municipal buildings.

They would find our cities, admire the layers of the history of occupation captured in the friezes of the facades of buildings in urban historic cores, they would imagine the dynamic streets of Cape Town and Johannesburg, and the festive beachfront of Durban. They might come across artwork, captured in the art district of Woodstock and Salt River in Cape Town, the re-imagined warehouses speaking to a lost textile industry but born again as a place of architectural, cultural and urban renewal. They would marvel at the diversity of cuisine, the richness of the culture, and the excellence of certain aspects of the architectural design - the modesty, the shrewdness, the bravado. The contrast of the various architectures of the city would be delightful as well as complex; the architecture would reveal the substantial design talent of the country, but also highlight the struggle to address inequality, the great challenge of their time.

TThey would find the silo district in the VA Waterfront, at the cusp of where the sea meets one of most the iconic mountains in the world, and behold a new cultural precinct - the Zeitz MOCAA museum, housing, restaurants and signature architecture of Africa and the world’s best.  

Delving further along the coastline they would encounter the lovely ruins of the promenade and the Cape Town stadium and urban park, a place where architecture, public life and nature used to interplay. The architecture would take a dramatic turn and begin to reflect some of the most famous beaches in the world at the time, festooned with stunning contemporary architecture locked into the granite slopes of Table Mountain, dramatic gestures of glass, steel, stone and aspiration.

And yet the architectural story would be incomplete without a journey into the winelands where hectares of various cultivars have become the engine room for a globally-renowned wine industry. The architecture of wine cellars and tasting rooms, blending the rural and the urban would reveal the highest levels of luxury, excellence and care. A land where contemporary architecture houses the spirit of the landscape, and the unconscious adoration of Dionysus.

These archaeologists would find many gems of architectural excellence, award-winning schools in semi-rural communities, community centres where the dream of a united South Africa would be played out daily.

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