Cultural Heritage is an expression of the way of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation , including practices, places, objects and architecture (ICOMOS , 2002). Across Gauteng , heritage sites serve a purpose of reconnecting the present day to the past ; buildings of historic significance standing the test of time to remind us of days gone by. The value of a heritage site therefore lies in its ability to connect with the modern day society, engaging with people from every walk of life . Should a heritage site lose this ability to connect , or be repeatable to, the society that is custodian over it, the site falls into disrepute; creating a rift between the value the site holds and its perceived social contribution.
In the Johannesburg CBD area the main reason for this occurrence is essentially a change in lifestyle with a shift towards a car driven , individualistic society which directly affects business and transport. This lifestyle leads to issues such as : lack of parking and access to technology, non-adaptability of building programs, lack of funds for maintenance and lack of integration with new nodes from surrounding. One such fascinating paradigm would be that of up - cycling . Although a relatively new and modern concept , “Up -cycling is the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful “(Garbutt, 2010 ). This process is not to be confused with recycling , “To break down and convert waste material for re- use” (Mcdonough, 2010 ). Up-cycling advocates a re-use of a material without degrading its composition or quality to create something new.
What if such a thought could be translated to the responsive design of heritage architecture? No longer merely a response to site and context, but an integrated re-use of an existing site within the new architecture. This would see materials of the past re-imagined in a new and integrated design, with a tangible connection, not only to the original heritage of the site, but to our own cultural heritage.
Within the current context, JDA is heavily involved in upgrading areas of the CBD , particularly encouraging housing through retrofitting of existing buildings. Also, with the introduction of the Gautrain and strengthening of the transit node at Gandhi Square , a clear change in the dynamics of the area has begun , with new investors once again interested in the Downtown Johannesburg area. With this rise of interest , there is an ever increasing need to establish a set of architectural principles to deal with heritage restoration and reintegration within the Johannesburg context. The time is propitious to embrace heritage within this new phase of design through the paradigm of up-cycling.