These efforts will see the iconic Saturday market back in a new format and introducing new elements such as live shows, artisan food and shopping experience.
By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor
It is a journey that started 18 years ago and that journey continue today, and that is the love of the City of Gold, Johannesburg in general and Braamfontein in Particular.
Today, Adam Levin ones an impressive property portfolio in Braamfontein. Credited with the co-co-founding of the one thing that changed the game in the revitalization of the area in 2011, the famous Saturday market Neighbourgoods Market on 73 Juta Street, that not only became magnet for visitors from around South African but international visitors as well, Levin is embarking on another chapter in telling Braam’s interesting story.
“Of course things started going bad in five years ago, with negativity about Johannesburg spreading fast and attitudes hardened around the city. And when Covid- happened in 2020, we had to close the market.
However Johannesburg is a resilient city and its stories and people are interesting, and now Braanfontein is on a comeback trail and this time something new has emerged to continue from where we left off in 2020 as Braamfoniein navigates a new path of place making, Levy told a group of media people this week as he took us around Braanfontein, unveiling new plans to revitalize the area known to attract mainly hispsters and those looking for an interesting alternative urban experience.
The ever creative Levy this time around in telling Braamfontein’s story is introducing a new concept, well sort of, called The Playground by Play Braamfontein that he believes, just like the Neighbour Goods Market, will bring back “the weekend heart of the city”.
And the story here is this. When South Africa went into its first lockdown in March 2020 it took with it one of Joburg’s most vital city attractions – the Saturday Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein, since 2011 a city institution and a magnet for local and international visitors. Since its founding the market had seen almost 2-million visitors pass through itsalleyway entrance, changing the way people experienced the city, and creating a landmark for the district of Braamfontein.
This wave also shaped a new generation of city dweller, who visited the market weekly for the buzz it created, not only at the site, but throughout the neighbourhood.
The good news is this: On December 4, 2021, The Playground will open at the same location – at 73 Juta Street, and again change the way that weekends are spent in Joburg.
And of course Levy is the force behind The Playground, a creation of his company Play Braamfontein, started 18 years ago. While The Playground is a new venture it’s shaped by the values that this urban development company holds fast.
“I’ve re-learnt that fulfillment is in the experience of creating, and not in the possession of ideas. Everything I ever wanted to do, but was waiting for the perfect tenancy, I will now undertake to do through Play,” says Levy.
Levy has brought together a team of specialists to curate every aspect of the experience – combining food, art, design, fashion, and music.
“The market – which will feature everything we loved about the last version, will go further. The Playground will amplify new stories and build new storytellers in this city. It will excite a whole new generation and be a holding place for outstanding talent.
“The Playground will be the source of everything that is the best of Braamfontein – which is everything that is the best of South Africa.
“I believe there is an opportunity to break molds, create trends, and open the space up to showcase talent and to inspire creative culture. This next iteration will be transformative, and we are intent on The Playground once again becoming a weekly must-visit for its unique energy.”
What is The Playground?
Exactly what its name suggests, a place to spark the kind of joy and connection that Covid almost snuffed out. The Playground is a considered space, playing host to a regular artisan Market on Saturdays with a menu of gourmet street food and cocktails, and starting in 2022, on Sundays, live music performances. This is not just a market space – it is as focused on the visitor experience as it is on creating a platform for exceptional young talent in Joburg.
The opening event will be a showcase for the best up and coming young designers in South Africa, the start of a new talent incubator pop-up that each week will bring exciting and surprising elements to the mix.Music is an integral part of The Playground experience – and top musicians are part of the weekly live music festival programme.
The well-known space in which the former Neighbourgoods Market took place, at the landmark 73 Juta Street building, with its iconic Edoardo Villa sculptural façade, has been reimagined to create an enhanced visitor experience. The Playground with its spacious, multi-story open-air location,custom-designed performance space, and outdoor decks overlooking the city is the perfect venue for this era.
The Playground artisan market will open from 09:00 – 18:00 everySaturday and include an afternoon music line-up.From 2022 The Playground will host launch a live music festival series. Regular updates will be shared on The Playground’s Instagram account.
The Playground will be free to enter from 09:00 – 11:00.
From 11:00 –18:00a R20 entry fee will be payable at the door by card only.
Note that this will be a cashless environment