The African Food and Culture Hub, an exciting new project currently being spearheaded by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), will further transform the inner city with the creation of a new public space surrounded by restaurants, shops and businesses reflecting a wide range of African culture and cuisine.

Park StationPark Station is a hub of constant activity with more than a million commuters using public transport such as Rea Vaya, Gautrain, Metrorail, and taxis.The City of Joburg’s vision for the African Food and Culture Hub is of a welcoming public place that reflects the continent’s rich diversity, celebrating African food and culture while providing a safe zone for night-time leisure and entertainment.

The Hub will be located around a new public square on Eloff Street in the Park Station Precinct, with design and implementation taking place in phases over two years.

In 2013/14, the JDA spent R3-million on detailed designs, community participation processes, stakeholder negotiations and initial construction to upgrade the public environment preparatory to creating the new public square on Eloff Street.

In 2014/15 the bulk of the public environment upgrade work will be completed, along with a series of promotional events, including exhibitions and other events in the African Design Pavilion.

Besides providing residents and tourists with a new, cosmopolitan African city experience, the African Food and Culture Hub will also serve as a venue for food-themed festivals and activations, a small market for informal food traders, a venue for food industry training and events, and an information hub for food-related businesses and other activities.

It is also designed to accommodate a food institute capable of implementing a range of programmes aimed at developing the food industry in the city and the province. This will be done through promotion, industry networking and training; value chain and clustering analysis and strategy formation; and publicising and promoting food services and businesses in the inner city.

The project aligns closely with the JDA’s vision of restructuring the city’s space economy, optimising land use and energy consumption, and improving living standards and mobility for large numbers of people in well serviced and managed transit neighbourhoods.

It also forms part of the City’s Corridors of Freedom initiative, which is working to undo the social barriers created by apartheid town planning, and to make Joburg a cohesive, liveable city through the establishment of well-planned transport arteries that connect people with their place of work and leisure.

Crucial to this vision is the creation of mixed-use spaces in which city dwellers can live, work and play. The African Food and Culture Hub will fit the bill perfectly – and throw in an authentic taste of African diversity for good measure.