South Africa’s Play-Tek: The ecosystem before you buy

Image copyright by Burana / Getty Images Image caption It took six years for Play-Tek in Jo’burg to create the structure, which is eco-friendly

Burana is a pop-up shopping center in Jo’burg, South Africa which hosts two weeks of art, food and crafts every autumn.

A village garden is laid out inside a “grow shack”, complete with well-stocked treehouse, orchard and cafe.

The section is also ready for guests, who can use an outdoor water fountain, play with goats and chickens or hunt for wild boar.

“I am an eco-tourism entrepreneur who designed and made all the furniture,” says play-tek owner Elizabeth Chetty.

“Once the sales stop, I will be happy to leave the area. Nothing is really permanent here; I want people to meet new people, experience the beauty of Jo’burg.”

By Santigold

Image copyright ESPN Image caption The space is open for two weeks of regular shopping events every autumn

Now on its fourth iteration, Play-Tek is open every autumn in a multi-block section of Jo’burg, home to a new power-station/city-centre complex.

Packed with contemporary art exhibitions, funky cafes and gallery spaces, the space contains businesses like Chetty’s, which specialises in high-end furniture and accessories, local brands selling wacky products, and local craftspeople selling jewelry and hand-made soaps.

“We’ve quite a few shops here from South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Congo,” explains Chetty.

“A lot of stores are already here and opened up last year. So we’re trying to get businesses from outside the country as well.”


Image copyright Skylarking Image caption Players is all about being with friends

Players, which sells smallish frames of furniture and mirrors, is also enjoying its time on play-tek.

“The focal point is the cafe, which is the biggest pillar here,” says co-owner Frank Rakete.

“We have a lobby where a wide variety of drinks are available and there are a lot of engaging events, like live acoustic sessions, gigs and trivia challenges.

“The park area includes an old junk car workshop, a workshop for kids to make scrap books, and a barn for boar hunting. This is one of the reasons why we wanted to be here, because we were looking for somewhere to get away for a while and hang out with friends.”

The teams at Players and Play-Tek may be independent, but Rakete stresses the partnership between locals and visitors can’t be overstated.

“They’re doing their thing – we don’t have any particular image of what you need to do in South Africa.

“We try to be inclusive, as if you’re visiting there’s lots of space for you to express yourself, and we’re happy to talk to you and help you if you want.”

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