Sure, Jozi might lack the easy appeal of Durban’s warm ocean and laid-back lifestyle, or Cape Town’s raw natural beauty but the continent’s economic powerhouse is famous for a cosmopolitan vibrancy, temperate climate, and an urban legend that it’s the world’s largest manmade forest. While newer areas suffer from a proliferation of pastiche security estates and lack a sense of place, Joburg’s established suburbs offer tree-lined streets, public green spaces and many tasteful houses in large, well-tended gardens. These older homes range from understated mid-century bungalows (some of South Africa’s most notable modernist architects were based in the city) to stately stone mansions constructed by the randlords who founded the city.
We’ve trawled the market and found Joburg classics that are currently for sale and should go onto your property wishlist right now.
1. LYSTANWOLD ROAD, Saxonwold
At first glance, this Cape-Dutch Revival offers all the best aspects of a Joburg heritage home. Picturesque gables, an expansive garden, and character features such as timber floors and bay windows. An elegant and sensitive extension was added by acclaimed architect Sydney Abramowich in the 1970s for then owner and South African artist Hannatjie van der Wat. The modernist pavilion addition is a celebration of mid-century elegance that would make even Mies van der Rohe proud. Typical Bauhaus-inspired design cues include expansive glazing, lithe linear roof planes, terracotta floor tiles, mosaic wall panels and even a conversation pit. It’s important that modern extensions shouldn’t overwhelm a heritage property and the understated ’70s extension forms a restrained and masterful counterpoint to the more traditional original dwelling.
Asking price: R8,900,000
• Fine and Country, Lieska Dieperink, 082-499-5564
2. HEARN DRIVE, Northclifft
Designed in the Spanish Mission style, popularised by 1930s movie stars, this sprawling villa is a decadent slice of old Hollywood, nestled on Northcliff’s green northern slope. Original features such as parquet floors, a timber-panelled bar, stone-clad fireplaces, and handmade Italian roof tiles are all retained in this classic Joburg residence. A shaded veranda, made for afternoon G&Ts, spans the entire north-ern façade and affords views across the pool, and the odd guinea fowl, all the way to the Magaliesburg.
Asking Price: R4,999,999
• Lew Geffen Sothebys, Gert Bekker, 082-570-0222
3. BARNTON ROAD, Greenside
The perfect city bungalow. This appealingly modest house in the heart of “The Parks” has benefitted from a careful nip and tuck, bringing it comfortably into the 21st century. Whilst the original Marseilles-tile roof, parquet floors, and boxy bungalow pro-portions all remain, the home’s interiors have been opened up and carefully modernised. The result is an easy-living, light-filled, family space that’s packed with old Joburg character and a beautiful stoep to collapse on come lazy Highveld afternoons.
Asking price: R3,200,000
• Byron Thomas, 076-987-9659
4. THE VALLEY ROAD, Westcliff
The Parktown and Westcliff area is renowned as one of Joburg’s premier heritage nodes; originally home to mining magnates, captains of industry, and the city’s social elite. This contemporary property on the prestigious The Valley Road celebrates Westcliff’s stately architectural lineage. The symmetrical façade is reminiscent of a classical Palladian villa, while koppie-stone terraced gardens and arched, colonnaded verandas echo Herbert Baker’s influence on the suburb.
Asking price: R27,000,000
• Lew Geffen Sothebys, Beverley Gurwicz, 082-412-0010
• From the February edition of Wanted, 2021.