Johannesburg is a city of rapid change and innovation, whose growth has accelerated in post-apartheid South Africa, driven by a need for social transformation and global connectedness within the African context.

JCAF looks to this energy for inspiration, while seeking to serve as a place of intellectual and creative rigour, and contributing to the advancement of the city and society. JCAF is located in a former electrical tram shed and substation that formed part of a network of trams that ran between 1906 and 1961. The first electric trams serviced the inner boundaries of old Johannesburg. The Forest Town tram shed serviced two routes: L1 that ran from City Hall to Rosebank and L2 that operated between City Hall and Zoo Lake in 1932.

Trams as a symbol of the urban suggest the rich heritage of JCAF’s location and its identification with the city. JCAF acknowledges this complex history while embracing an innovative approach to design.

Contemporary Johannesburg is a thoroughly polyglot urban formation whose influence, connections and identifications extend beyond its locality and well beyond South Africa. It is also an engine of art, architecture, music, fashion, theatre, literature and religious life.

Achille Mbembe and Sarah Nuttall