New Beginnings

Harmonious blend of development

Published by: Johann Taljaard

Published on: 21 Jan, 2020

Join us in a very personal reflection on the emotional journey migrants makes as they embrace new beginnings in a foreign land, navigating uncertainty while savouring the exhilarating prospect of reinventing a new life – reflecting the best of old and new worlds.

Our topic for the month is New Beginnings! This is especially true for people who migrate and face the challenge of rebuilding their lives in their new host country.

I just recently found myself walking, on a clear but cold winters day, through a newly developed area in Kings Cross, London.


It may look like Dark Vader but it presented me with altogether different symbolisms as I reflected on or topic of the month. I pondered on, within the context of our topic, the old and new of things. The challenges of facing new things, new beginnings, trying to gather all the information and nuances of a new beginning, often with trepidation and fear of the unknown.

The scale of this development was daunting! Even more were the developments taking place next to it and beyond.

Harmonious blend of development

My thoughts dwelled on how frightening and alien it may appear if one arrives from somewhere where development and community buildings may not be of this scale and intensity.

It also filled me with loads of excitement to look at these buildings and I took some comfort from their design and stature in this part of London. The character of the original building is recognizable, and the architectural design(ers) have taken great care to maintain the history and culture of the original as an integral part of what was good about the buildings.

Charming blend of old and new connected

My reflections turned to us, migrants coming to make a new life here in the UK. I drew from observing the development that we too, need to be true and careful to hold on to the ‘old’, the cultural and historical aspects which form us since childhood.

These are precious resources and it makes your own integration into the new world that much more fulfilling and enriches all that we touch and connect with.

What struck me most of all was the ease with which the old and new were merged with one another. The new sat comfortable on top of the old without necessarily bearing down or squashing the old.

Modernmerges with old

Now, that said, I am not for one moment suggesting that it is easy building a building as complex as this. The journey from planning, ethical and aesthetic harmony must have been very hard to achieve.

The same would hold true, for someone arriving in the UK wanting to build a new life, managing the family, the cultural challenges, education and employment, accommodation and the legal challenges surrounding the process of establishing oneself in a new country.

These sweeping lines of this modern building underlies the true magnificence of the achievement!

Sculpting the future

The respect that was given to an already existing structure which, within itself and the historical times it was constructed in, was a magnificent building. Strong, durable, withstanding time and elements, enduring monumental changes to both the environment and pressures to adapt yet at the same time remain the same. So, it is with this reflection that I decided to write this piece, trying to draw strength from that which have gone before and garner that strength to challenge, build and create a new life for my family and myself.

Reinventing oneself is probably one of the hardest things to achieve in life. It may feel that you have to discard the old in order to herald in the new. Perhaps sometimes in the beginning, you do, managing just the resources needed to develop that new life, so you do not deplete all your strength. At some point though, you do feel the need to start sharing, drawing from the deep inner resource, unique to all of us.

My core message to people who read this and is starting their new lives in the UK; don’t give up on the old, hang on to it. It is the foundations of who you are and what you will become here in your new life. But you will change and adapt, just as this building has and you will find that you create something unique, taking the best from both.

Like this building, the new would never have been possible had it not been constructed on the foundations of the time tested old.

Johann Taljaard

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