The Oriental Plaza – a melting post of Joburg’s urban cultures.
About two weeks ago we took a trip to the Oriental Plaza in Fordsburg. The Plaza is an interesting spot, and is easily a destination that makes Joburg, Joburg. Built in the mid-1970s by the apartheid government, the shopping mall was created to house trade merchants forcibly evicted from the vibrant 14th Street shopping street in one of urban South Africa’s last remaining mixed-use neighbourhoods, Fietas.
In terms of design, the Plaza is simply bizarre and orientalist in the extreme. One gets the impression of a mosque filled with a frenetic market. It represented an aspect of separate development that foresaw the forced separation of races through heavily controlled access to the diversity of Joburg.
It is ironic then that the Plaza nowadays is a melting pot of Joburg’s urban cultures. It is at once both exotic in its cosmopolitanism, as it is beneficial to the city’s soul. It forms the centre of a vibrant migrant Bangladeshi/Pakistani/Indian community in Johannesburg that adds a unique flavour to Joburg’s rich cultural urbanism. It is also stuck in the 70s in its design, seemingly not having been updated since, which is reflected somewhat in our photos above.
Address: 38 – 60 Bree Street, Fordsburg
Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 5 pm
Fridays closed between 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm
Saturdays 8.30 am to 3 pm