Melville is now home to a multistorey bohemian mall built of stacked shipping containers.

The notoriously protective residents of Melville, Joburg’s original creative hamlet, have been watching like curious village people as the arrival of the suburb’s most controversial addition shakes up the block – a mall built using recycled shipping containers named, inventively, 27 Boxes.

The impressive four-storey tower of red, blue, green and black containers stands in the dust of a long-abandoned park that has troubled the residents and business owners on 4th Avenue for some time.

Since taking ownership of the property in 2013, the Citiq group of developers was blocked from developing the formerly communal land. Locals were immediately up in arms about the approach of greedy gentrifiers intent on capitalising on the suburb’s popularity, but after countless meetings with the militant residents’ association, a compromise has been met – a part-public, part-private development that intends to include all of the neighbourhood residents.

The planning seems to have worked. Where the once dangerous seesaws used to be, there is now a tiered amphitheatre complete with a soap box for slam poetry performances, and a smooth concrete forecourt replaced the cracked tennis courts. From here, one walks between rows of boutique offerings – charming bakeries charged by hipster baristas, narrow art galleries full of affordable work by young as-yet-unknowns, hand-made jewellery stores lined with glittering stones and South African designer ateliers.

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