Were it not for intervention, the historic Heritage Square in the city bowl of central Cape Town would have fallen foul of so-called modern development.
The proposed scheme would have had the demolition of the entire Bree/Shortmarket area but thanks to The Cape Town Heritage Trust, it was renovated and restored.
Back in the 18th century you could go to market, so to speak, to visit, say, your baker here. There were also tobacconists, a number of retailers, a boarding house and even an undertaker.
The houses were built with clay or rubble and cemented with lime mortar. The roofs were thatched and the walls painted with whitewash. As folks became more affluent, so did the dwellings – larger and more ornate. It was then that the front gable – unique to Cape architecture – made its appearance. The Cape Dutch architecture-style of the buildings is an amalgam of medieval Dutch and German, with hints of French and Indonesian influences. The basic style was always the same though.
If the heritage folks hadn’t interfered, there would be very little evidence of this unique form of architecture on this square today.