Korokoro: Sprawling exhibition, prefab building and community hub

Image copyright Sistemuseum Korokoro

Korokoro, in Tshwane is the brainchild of a university student, and is an innovative take on the sustainable South African economy.

Korokoro has two models. There’s the retail side: On the ground floor, where artwork and artworks are found.

Next door there is a warehouse that houses locally sourced furniture and accessories made by local artisans.

The end goal is to convert the two to fully automated buildings; the space and the art will be completely replaced by renewable energy.

Professor and founder of Korokoro, Jonathan Hazlewood is also founder of South Africa’s association of artists, The Art Committee, which is a local nonprofit organisation. He told us:

What is South Africa’s current retail landscape like?

Image copyright sistemuseum Korokoro Image caption People will be able to enter either of the buildings, and either one will become the new retail location.

The opportunity is to allow the return of people to the real economy: without the shack life, without a sense of security.

So by creating retail and community space, we bring back some element of the apartheid South Africa economy.

We’re bringing back the space that the people traditionally had.

Where do you see Korokoro going in the future?

The construction of the two buildings is going to be a tour de force in getting that artisanal work and the work of the community, together.

The retail space will be a completely automated environment, but the end goal will be to open a new store.

It’s a creative business idea that can appeal to people outside of the city, rather than the mainstream urban population.

Image copyright sistemuseum Korokoro Image caption In the garage building, industrial design plays a big role

The community art space will also be activated by the neighbourhood and art institutions. This will be a destination for school groups.

There will be a market room and loft, where you can rent out space to galleries, artists and community-run businesses.

It is thought that the retail space might soon face issues, due to a lot of the work being automated.

We’ll address that through innovation – we’ll start up our own technology, or bring in external solutions.

The building will also house a hospital, which is set to be a re-invention of the public health delivery model, which has broken up communities.

What are the business benefits of such an initiative?

On a strictly commercial basis, we’re a really good opportunity to help stores find ‘now’.

This medium allows them to create unique space; after all, the reason someone is going to an urban retail space or near a mall is because it’s ‘right now’.

Because Korokoro is designed and built to support community, artists and those in the community, that’s a way to promote creativity.

Who are the people who will find work at Korokoro?

All of our vendors are local. About 50% of the city is unemployed, that’s 50% of the country’s population. It’s also about giving people access to stable livelihoods in the city.

Communities are growing, so you have a whole generation that haven’t benefited from the economy.

That’s something we’re passionate about.

To be a collaborator, you don’t have to be a patron of the arts. People outside the arts are getting in on the action, so people will be able to buy from diverse backgrounds, different languages, too.

This will be a ‘stockist’ of sustainable works of art.

Korokoro is a social enterprise, what are its potential long-term targets?

Over the long term we want to not only create a social and economic model in Tshwane, but across South Africa.

We want to think of the developments in Tshwane as an international hub, to set an example for other cities in South Africa.

Image copyright sistemuseum Korokoro Image caption The design of the offices will be predominantly offline

Then, there’s the long-term, and that’s even to look at doing a two-day boot camp for the entire country.

Let’s educate the international community on the way this can be done, so we can give South Africa something to be proud of and create a positive image for us.

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