/ past projects

/ Workers’ Museum / 2010

Tour Group

Map of the Newtown Compound

Trace was appointed by the JDA to develop one of the last remaining compounds in the inner city of Johannesburg workers into a museum dedicated to telling the story of black male migrant workers.

The compound is a powerful historical site from which to tell the story of migrancy and migrant culture that lies at the very heart of our city of gold. The u-shaped building, together with the white workers’ cottages and the domestic quarters that are directly behind the compound are, moreover, a powerful and accessible architectonic representation of the class and race cleavages that were already firmly in place at the turn of the twentieth century.

The bleak story of oppression and exploitation, as told by the former residents of the compound, is balanced by migrant stories of resilience, energy and strategies of survival.

The site-specific nature of the story being told ensures a highly emotive and forceful experience for the visitor. The site is also used to examine contemporary issues such as the transformation of hostels in the new South Africa as well as labour issues such as the tragedy at Marikana in 2012.

Tel: +27 82 554 0747 (Lauren) / +27 82 335 4586 (Clive)