I am a Jozi kid and I’ve always had a love for space. When I was growing up,
I used to go to the top of the Carlton Centre, the 55th floor, and check out all the buildings in Johannesburg from the top.That helped create a lifelong interest in how we can restore, invigorate and renew a space.
My partner, Neo, is really good at finding unused and derelict spaces.
Last December, he found this space in the Madison building [in the Johannesburg city centre] and got me to come and see it.
It’s an unloved, rusted old factory. But I fell in love with the amount of empty space and the possibilities of what we can do with it. We are planning to restore it with art, by making it an art centre or art precinct — just a space dedicated to art.
What hooked me was that this place runs along two streets, Madison and Macintyre. It’s huge and we can renovate the third, second and first floors. So far we’ve cleaned out the space, with our own hands. We focused on the courtyard, which is like an urban garden. We still have the roof to do and we have the full interior to get done.
There’s a lot more to be done. But we are still looking for funding. We are not a nonprofit, so it’s a little bit harder to try and get funding. But yeah, we are looking.
This project is my baby. I fell in love with this building. — Chan de Villiera, as told to Tshegofatso Mathe