International style in Arcadia Pretoria Art Museum.

After 1945, buildings in the two urban hubs of Gauteng, Johannesburg and Pretoria, went up. The higher, the better. Urban densification was the order of the day. While cities in Europe were rebuilding, cities in Gauteng were simply building as if the war was a cleansing process. Thus South African Modernism was born. Architects plundered influences from the latest American and European trends and, in a nod to the New World, also freely used Niemayers Brazilian Modernism. Glass, steel and concrete were the new materials.

A new government was in power and, almost as if it was making a break with the colonial past, a new urban landscape was created. The late Victorian houses of Hillbrow gave way to high-rise blocks of flats encouraging the newly elevated classes to live closer to work places. Residential high-rises in Sunnyside and Arcadia in Pretoria, as well as Berea and Illovo in Johannesburg, are also fine examples of Modernist residential high-rise. South Africa was economically powerful in the 1950s and 1960s and massive public works programmes were embarked upon. It was as if a second gold rush hit the Witwatersrand. With this new impetus, the character and indeed the skylines of Gauteng's cities changed forever.

Joburg CBD with a towering Carlton Centre.

They went from colonial outposts to thriving pulsing modern cities on a par with anything in the rest of the world.

These urban landscapes were recently featured in films like District 9, Jozi and Jerusalema. They utilised the urban landscapes of Johannesburg, albeit focusing on the underbelly of the city. However, films like Skin and the BBC project Mrs Mandela, which were set in the 1960s and 1970s, slipped easily into their chosen locations.

More recently, The Bang Bang Club recreated the 1980s with ease. This is because the classic buildings of the post war period still maintain a contemporaneous feel.

The modern style encompasses both residential and commercial buildings. A classic post war residence is House Martienssen in Cruden Bay Road, Greenside. There is an almost umbilical link to le Courbousier. The distinct design of this house is remarkable even by today's standards. It influenced later examples such as House Suzman and House Clennar in Lower Houghton.

Johannesburg is home to some of Africa's tallest structures, including the Sentech Tower, Hillbrow Tower and the Carlton Centre. The Johannesburg city skyline has most of the tallest buildings on the continent. Many of the city's older buildings have been pulled down and more modern ones built in their place. North of the CBD is Hillbrow, the most densely populated residential area in southern Africa. Northwest of the CBD is Braamfontein, a secondary CBD housing many offices and business premises.

Modern Hillbrow and the Telkom Tower

Institutional and commercial buildings from the immediate post war period are well represented by the Hillman Block at the University of the Witwatersrand. The 1950s abounds in the buildings of Hillbrow, especially Banket Street, Paul Nel Street and Clarendon Circle. This style spills over into the office blocks of Braamfontein and parts of the city centre of Johannesburg.

The 1970s brought more concrete into the buildings almost in imitation of the French style of Brutalism and New Brutalism. The finest example being the Carlton Centre, which is also the tallest building in Africa. It is 50 floors, and is 223 metres tall, about three metres short of featuring in the world's top 100 skyscrapers. It is possible, at a small cost, to take a lift to the 50th floor and enjoy extraordinary 360 degree views of Johannesburg. Other examples of this style are the University of Johannesburg campus, Ellis Park precinct, SABC building, the State Theatre in Pretoria and Charlotte Mxenge Hospital. The State Theatre and the Johannesburg Metro Building are fine examples of 1970s, where monolithic edifices were typical of national party thinking at the time. These prominent concrete-clad buildings are built almost to defend the people within from unknown external forces.

Joburg's other landmark skyscraper is Ponte City. Ponte tower was built as a modernist dream of urban life and in its heyday offered the ultimate in fashionable, sophisticated modern living. But it became increasingly decayed, inhabited in turn by the urban lower middle class, immigrants, and finally by squatters. This pattern has been the same for many buildings, both offices and flats, in the Johannesburg CBD. Ponte was built in 1975 as a huge hollow cylinder with 470 flats. It has undergone several roller-coaster transitions since it was built, and once again refurbishing is taking place - soon flats will once more be for hire in one of Joburg's most controversial buildings. Soaring to 173 metres, with 54 floors and the best views in town, it's an integral part of Joburg's skyline. The building was designed by Manfred Hermer, the same architect responsible for the Johannesburg Theatre and the Andre Huguenot in Hillbrow, and it was even used as a setting for the book Stadt des Goldes by German writer Norman Ohler. It opened as one of the city's most desirable places to live, but by the late 1980s it had become a haven for criminals and drug lords. Such was its reputation that in 1998 a proposal - soon rejected - that it be turned into a prison, was aired. In 2001, its act was cleaned up and a new security system chased out the criminals. Ponte is again being fixed up and this time it looks like the developers will get it right; soon, the Ponte building will be a functional space, lose its white elephant status, and become part of Joburg CBD's rebirth.

The Hillbrow Tower is the highest structure in Johannesburg and is probably the city's most recognisable landmark. It was built over three years between 1968 and 1971, and is 269 metres high. It is owned by Telkom and is used as a microwave tower. In 1981, for security reasons, the revolving restaurant near the top of the tower was closed.

These architectural styles although short-lived and ever-changing in a short space in time, make Gauteng an ideal backdrop to any film wishing to source locations post 1945 up until the 1980s.