Heritage spot jazzed up

2018-07-03 06:00

Possible uses are under consideration for a historical gem at the heart of one of the City of Cape Town’s redevelopments. The future of the Jazz Workshop – a building at the centre of the Beaufort House redevelopment, which saw the site converted into a new electricity depot for the City – was the topic of discussion at a recent subcouncil 16 meeting.

According to Mayco member for informal settlements, water, waste services and energy, Xanthea Limberg, the redevelopment consists of the demolition of the existing Beaufort House and the construction of a five-floor building and cost around R146m.

Beaufort House, the site of the old City Housing offices situated between Bree and Buitengracht streets, has been revamped to accommodate the electricity depot which was formerly housed on the corner of Strand and Hudson streets (“Empowering a green future”, People’s Post, 10 July 2014).

But not only will the building be given a new lease on life, it will also be eco-friendly, with the City also aiming for a Green Star rating for energy efficiency on the new depot (Transformation begins”, People’s Post, 5 April 2016). This rating will make it the first new electricity depot in South Africa where energy efficiency requirements are blended in with historical and environmental requirements­.

In the middle of this redevelopment is the Jazz Workshop. The Jazz Workshop is estimated to date back to around the 17th century, and originally formed part of a block of residential and warehousing properties. The building takes its name from its function as a jazz school, which was established in 1965 and became a well-known jazz teaching and learning establishment, with the likes of Abdullah Ibrahim passing through its doors. The building was a meeting place for people of all races during apartheid years, including activists.

Jazz Workshop has been graded as 3B for its social and historical significance but although the building contains some of the original 17th century fabric, it underwent extensive alterations and the addition of a floor in 1950s.

The City plans to renovate the Jazz Workshop, Limberg confirms, following “due process” in terms of the heritage fabric.

“The facade will be refurbished initially and further investigation into the feasibility and use of the building will then be conducted as per the spirit of the Heritage Impact Assessment outcome,” she says.

The City is currently considering using the Jazz Workshop as office space for the City’s Energy Directorate staff “to improve efficiency and to reduce the consolidated cost of rental over the long-term”, Limberg adds.

At the subcouncil meeting, ward councillor Dave Bryant requested that the future use of the building include homage to the building’s history.

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