The trains run through the centre of Johannesburg like the Thames runs through London. Our shunting yards are so prominent yet so desolate that most miss them whilst driving over Nelson Mandela Bridge. Here is a look at what goes on in this undiscovered space under those highways and bridges.
An architectural project brought me to the shunting yards. They separate Braamfontein and Newtown, two up-and-coming precincts that are shouting to be linked. There lay the basis of my project, linking one edge to the other.
The patterns of the shunting yards are ever-changing with the constant movement of trains, some staying a while whilst others go straight past. Some love the spot so much that they never leave but why would you if you had such a prime location?
The area surrounding and leading into the shunting yards is a little overgrown and largely unused except for a few passersby, some staying a little longer for a morning or an afternoon nap. There are no fences or gates and you are able to walk right onto the tracks and in between the trains, flattening a few coins as trains pass you by and adding a new motion to the site as you skip and jump between them. The space is a little rundown and rusted but this just adds to its charm of this space that has been there for almost 100 years (although there was only one train track in the beginning).
If you stand on Nelson Mandela Bridge at sunset the river of trains reflect the sun and you will be witness to a most spectacular sight as they all glow. If you are ever crossing over the bridges or highways in this area take a moment and look to your sides for a part of Joburg that is largely undiscovered even by those that live in it.