Saratoga

My project is looking at the abandoned building that was once used as a carpet factory known as Kernel Carpets, situated in Johannesburg along 7 Saratoga Avenue closed to the Ellis Park Stadium. This industrial haunt consists of a large garage area, which has now been filled with shacks along its perimeter, and a double storey building that has been subdivided into smaller rooms. Few additional brick buildings on either side have also been turned into housing space.

After the factory shut down in early 1990’s, a few residents moved in to live with their families that worked on the factory during heydays. They were mostly from KwaZulu-Natal and now there are many families living there, mostly looking for a better life.

The building maintains a façade of normality by day that is quickly shed when night falls. The residents of this defunct carpet factory have been living a face-less lives for years, paying rent to bogus landlords. The property was not maintained and after a while electricity and water were cut off.  This resulted in, no payments to anyone claiming ownership of the land.

At night residents use trolleys filled with empty buckets and drums to collect water in a nearby open manhole to avoid police harassment or disturbance by traffic. Despite the challenges that they are faced with, many of them are able to beat the odds daily, raising children, sending them to school, sending money back home, hopping from job to job- they are basically doing whatever it takes.

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