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New vibrant hub for city centre

Some of the murals that can be seen in Bree Street, painted by a number of local artists including Skumbuzo ’Skubalisto’ Vabaza and MacCLEMENTS

Some of the murals that can be seen in Bree Street, painted by a number of local artists including Skumbuzo ’Skubalisto’ Vabaza and MacCLEMENTS

Published Dec 20, 2021

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Capetonians and visitors to the Mother City who have ventured into the city centre – particularly into Bree Street – over the past few days will have noticed a few changes.

Not only has the street been visually transformed with vibrant murals painted by local artists, but some sections of it – and other streets in and around the area – have been closed off to vehicles at certain times.

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The street closures have been implemented by the City of Cape Town to allow restaurants to use the street space for additional safe, outdoor seating, while the vibrant street murals are part of a competition.

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A number of striking murals have enriched Upper Bree St on the site where Africa’s first “biophilic” building, The Fynbos will be constructed. The exterior of the 24-storey building will eventually be draped in greenery.

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The murals were commissioned by Lurra Capital, developer of The Fynbos, and Gardner Property Solutions as part of a competition. Ten artists were invited to enhance the exterior of the boarded-up site before the existing building is demolished in January 2022.

Construction of The Fynbos will begin thereafter, says property practitioner Keagan James. The artworks will be adjudicated, and the top three artists will be commissioned to paint the lift wells of The Fynbos. The winners will each paint six floors.

“Murals are a great way to attract locals and tourists and potentially boost the economy. One of the artists, Juma, does street art tours around Cape Town and he will include the new murals in Upper Bree Street as part of his tours.”

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Although the murals were created for the competition, they also add a much-needed vibrancy to a dull part of the tree-lined street, and highlight social ills such as gender-based violence.

In addition, visitors to the area over the past weekend would also have noted less vehicular traffic and more outdoor seating space for diners at local restaurants. This initiative was introduced to help diners feel safer and assist restaurants through the summer holiday season, says Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

“While we cannot help every restaurant, we hope this innovation will make a positive difference in the lives of many hospitality workers.”

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Twenty eateries will take part in the safe, unique dining experience, and live music entertainment will be announced.

“The city centre has always been a hub for entertainment, food, and culture and we hope to rejuvenate this. We encourage residents to support the local restaurant trade while staying safe this summer,” Hill-Lewis says.

The street closures will be in effect in Bree Street between Hout and Wale streets from 2pm to 11pm. In coming weeks the city will expand the scheme to other streets, including Harrington and Long. Details of all road closures and participating streets will be announced.

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