The Open House Architecture tour I went on last weekend – OHA16 in the series – is one I’d been looking forward to for some time, as I’d always wanted to see inside the Rex Trueform buildings, which have been out of use as clothing factories since the mid 1990s.
The Rex Trueform factory buildings stand opposite one another on Victoria Road in Salt River, dating from 1938 and 1948 respectively.
Inside the older of the buildings, nothing much has happened since the factory closed in the 1990s, due to cheap clothing imports from China flooding our market, causing thousands of job losses in Cape Town. Remnants of the place as a working factory are in evidence, mostly sorted into piles around the factory floors.
Factory roofs are often built in a zig zag / sawtooth shape, and the streets of Salt River below Victoria Road are full of this shape. It’s very practical as well as attractive, as the vertical wall has windows to let in light that bounces off the angled wall, into the working space below.
The zig zag shape comes through strongly in the architecture and detailing in both buildings, and I took a lot of snaps of these shapes on this tour.
Above is the first Rex Trueform factory, at 344 Victoria Road, Salt River, built in 1938. You can see the zig zag shadow cast by the roof of the second factory across the road (pictured below), built in 1948. Further down in these zig zag photos of mine, you’ll see the recently-restored zig zag wall of windows at the back of this second building.
My favourite of the zig zags was on the sidewalk outside this building, which is in the process of being converted into an office park. A zig zag sidewalk is very uncomfortable to walk on, but very good to look at.
Perhaps it was the giant abandoned spaces that made colour so intense, but the red fire doors and blue-painted room were pretty hard to ignore.
Visit their website for a full list of Open House Architecture Tours, and for pics of other OHA tours I’ve attended, click the links below:
OHA14 – Adèle Naudé Santos, and Antonio de Souza Santos
See you on the next tour!