"Money can't buy you taste!" Top 5 Page for this destination Downtown Tip by CatherineReichardt

Downtown, Johannesburg: 53 reviews and 76 photos

  Architectural carbuncle under construction
by CatherineReichardt
  • Architectural carbuncle under construction - Johannesburg
      Architectural carbuncle under construction
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Modest, understated entrance, Hyde Park - Johannesburg
      Modest, understated entrance, Hyde Park
    by CatherineReichardt

Just because you've got pots of money, it doesn't automatically follow that you have good taste - as much of the dodgy architecture in Johannesburg's moneyed northern suburbs proves!

This hideous confection is currently under construction in the ultra-swanky suburb of Hyde Park - just around the corner from where I work - and puts me in mind of the way that Prince Charles once described a proposed extension to the National Gallery as a, "monstrous carbuncle". Believe it or not, this faux Italiante wall and entrance, veritably bristling with classical statues, is a private residence - one can only speculate on what the house itself looks like!

If you have access to a car, why not drive slowly around some of Johannesburg's upmarket northern suburbs (Hyde Park and the Sandton areas are good places to start) and check out the architecture? All the properties are enclosed by walls for security purposes, but you can still sneak a peak through gates and fences, and, as in the case opposite, some of the walls themselves are jawdropping!

Whilst the 'newer money' is concentrated in the Sandton area, the older, more established suburbs like Houghton (where both Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki now live) were established by 'randlords' who grew rich on the back of the burgeoning mining industry from the 1880s onwards. So, for older (usually more tasteful) architecture with better developed vegetation, cruise the streets of upmarket inner suburbs such as Houghton, Saxonwold and Westcliff.

Address: Johannesburg

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 18, 2011
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