Research Outputs (Architecture and Planning)

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    The role of ritual in Southern African hunter-gatherer environmental adaptation
    (2020) Sechaba Maape
    Twentieth-century Southern African San hunter-gatherer communities are often depicted as a people who are environmentally fluid, adapting to climatic variability through mobility so as to ensure their survival. However, based on environmental psychology and phenomenology of place we also know that all humans possess the propensity to have a deep embodied attachment to place, and that change in place can cause a range of emotions between mild nostalgia to severe psychological and social crisis. Research has also demonstrated the centrality of ritual practices such as the trance dance in San culture and cosmology. This article aims to explore the phenomenological role rituals played in ensuring adaptability in the face of change, as well as providing the fundamental need for existential and psychological emplacement. Using literature from both environmental adaptation and ritual in San communities, as well as cultural neurophenomenology and embodiment as theoretical frameworks, the article will discuss how San rituals mediated people/place relationships as a means of coping with highly variable environments and change.
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    Redlining or renewal? the space-based construction of decay and its contestation through local agency in Brixton, Johannesburg
    (Taylor and Francis, 2017-04-21) Haferburg, Christoph; Huchzermeyer, Marie
    In South Africa, space-based exclusion remains prevalent in many forms. In this paper, we focus on the "redlining" of selected neighbourhoods, a technique applied by banks to structure lending decisions in the property market. As a consequence of redlining, prospective home-owners may find it impossible to secure a bond in such an area. This rationale and its results have been described extensively in urban studies literature: zoning areas as "not credit-worthy" prevents investment and creates a self-fulfilling trajectory towards crime and grime. Residents in these neighbourhoods are subject to a practice of territorial stigmatization. This results in economic insecurity with various negative neighbourhood effects, e.g. individual disinvestment or slumlording. Redlining is currently not in the spotlight of media or research in South Africa. The structural effects of this practice, however, are significant. The translation of socio-spatial perceptions into financially excluding techniques is not prevented in South African legislation. The relevance of dissecting this conundrum is demonstrated in our case study of Brixton, one of Johannesburg’s socio-economically most diverse neighbourhoods. It is precisely in mixed areas such as Brixton on Johannesburg’s east-west axis where redlining is applied, effectively devaluing a process of unplanned socio-economic integration of over two decades. In our case study, however, we observe how some residents respond to this and successfully counter redlining by banks with a combination of individual and collective strategies. However, our case of local agency also demonstrates the huge effort that is needed to challenge the financial institutions’ spatial ideology.
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    The rhetorical devices for marketing and branding Johannesburg as a city: a critical review
    (Sage Publications, 2015) Sihlongonyane, Mfaniseni Fana
    Since the founding of the city of Johannesburg in 1886, the city has taken up the quest to project a modernist image whose meaning has an international reach and a local foundation. In this endeavor, its locational advantages, product (gold), ethnicity (African), race, and class (notwithstanding the interconnections of these factors) has been used as part of the branding narratives of the city. However, the use of these factors has been closely shaped by the political ideologies of the day. While the brand imaginary of the apartheid government was largely Euro-modernist and dependent on the use of locational, product, and racial influences, the post-apartheid vision has been Afro- modern relying on the fusion of global and African images informed by ethnicity and class. Whereas the two governments had political systems that differ widely on ideological grounds, both have had to contend with the indelible influence of the global market in the production of the city’s brand narratives. The paper traces the different trajectories of image/branding narratives of the city from its founding to the present. Consequently, it posits the theoretical argument that a global-African imaginary as a form of African modernity is the driving force for the branding of Johannesburg. The goal of the paper is not to assess the effectiveness of the marketing campaigns but to gain insights into the city’s self-reflective efforts at re-imagining the city’s identity as captured in branding texts through a critical and interpretive approach. The paper presents an Afro-modernity that is relational and inclusively intercultural but perverted by the hegemonic impact of neoliberal policy and its adverse articulations of globalization.
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    The legal meaning of Lefebvre’s the right to the city: addressing the gap between global campaign and scholarly debate
    (Springer, 2017-06)
    There is a growing consideration globally of a right to the city in urban policies, strategies and legislation. The mention of this concept in the UN’s New Urban Agenda vision statement, in relation to human rights, both acknowledges and encourages this trend. It is also a result of lobbying and contestation. In the Anglo-American scholarly literature, there has been caution as to whether Henri Lefebvre intended a legal and institutionalized meaning for his ‘right to the city’. This paper reviews these debates and from that perspective examines Lefebvre’s positions on law, rights and the right to the city. It locates this within his wider political strategy and in particular the three-pronged strategy he put forward in The Urban Revolution to address the urban question – political foregrounding of the urban, promotion of self-management, and introduction of the right to the city into a transformed contractual system. By contextualizing and reviewing Everyday Life in the Modern World (published immediately before Right to the City), the paper examines Lefebvre’s thinking on rights formation, within ‘opening’, or the process of inducing change. The paper engages with meanings Lefebvre provides for rights in his concept of the right to the city, including his later conception of a contract of citizenship. The paper suggests that engagement with a fluid role of law and rights, in combination with Lefebvre’s other strategies, is important in opening the pathway he charts for the realization of this right, whether through local or global initiatives.
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    Spatial inequalities and policies in South Africa: place-based or people-centred?
    (Elsevier Ltd, 2017-04) Todes, Alison; Turok, Ivan
    There is a robust international debate about how best to tackle spatial inequalities within nations and regions. The paper discusses three contrasting approaches: spatial rebalancing, space-neutral and place-based. They vary in the scope and purpose of government policy, from redistributing economic activity, to facilitating aggregate growth, and realising the economic potential of less-developed regions. The paper applies this framework to analyse South Africa’s five decades of experience of spatial policies. The context is one of stark spatial inequalities, uneven institutional capabilities, and mounting political pressure for change. Under apartheid, spatial targeting was highly instrumental and played a role in reproducing social divisions at considerable financial cost. Since the end of apartheid there has been much experimentation with spatial initiatives, but without any overarching vision or policy framework. A cautionary conclusion is that there are risks of extravagant spending in marginal locations when political pressures are strong, public institutions are weak and economic disciplines are lacking. Another is that place-based policies have potential, but require stronger vertical and horizontal policy alignment to stand any chance of tackling entrenched spatial divides. Enhanced local institutions involving private sector and community stakeholders are also essential for spatial policies to respond to the specific challenges and opportunities encountered in each place.
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    Urban Resilience Thinking for Municipalities
    (University of the Witwatersrand, Gauteng City-Region Observatory, 2014) Harrison, Philip; Bobbins, Kerry; Culwick, Christina; Humby, Tracy-Lynn; La Mantia, Costanza; Todes, Alison; Weakley, Dylan
    This document was prepared as a contribution to the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST’s) Grand Challenge on Global Change and as a complement to flagship initiatives such as the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas project (Archer, et al., 2010). The Global Change Grand Challenge is aimed at “supporting knowledge generation and technological innovation that will enable South Africa, Africa, and the world, to respond to global environmental change, including climate change” (Archer, et al., 2010, p. ii). While the Grand Challenge highlights the importance of science in supporting South Africa’s response to global change, it extends beyond a purely biophysical focus to acknowledge the importance of the social sciences. There is a clear understanding that the most compelling responses to global change will come through the combined efforts of the natural and social sciences. The DST therefore supports a number of research programmes across South Africa that draw on a wide range of scientific and academic fields in responding to specific challenges of global change across rural and urban –South Africa. One of the key thematic areas supported through the Grand Challenge is “urban resilience”. This is not at the expense of work on rural areas, as there are also a number of research programmes targeting rural South Africa, but it is recognition of both the threats posed by poorly managed urban areas and of the opportunities that towns and cities offer for greater resilience and sustainability.
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    Mediation and the Contradictions of Representing the Urban Poor in South Africa: the case of SANCO leaders in Imizamo Yethu in Cape Town, South Africa
    (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014) Piper, Laurence; Benit-Gbaffou, Claire
    The formal system of local governance in South Africa has the ‘ward’ as its lowest and smallest electoral level – a spatial unit consisting of between 5000 and 15000 voters. The ward is equivalent to the ‘constituency’ in much of the rest of the world. Notably, the history of South Africa means that the vast majority of people live in ‘communities’ or neighbourhoods that are far smaller in scale than the ward, and most of these are the site of multiple claims of informal leadership by a variety of local organisations and their leaders. For example, the Cape Town ward, in which our case-study is located, includes at least five different communities, distinguished in racial and class terms. Existing ‘below’ and ‘within’ the formal area of the ward, popular practices of representation are manifested through a variety of community based organisations, more or less formalised, regulated and recognised. Some of these community based organisations are neighbourhood-specific, while some of them are federated into broader, national structures including the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO).
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    Community leadership and the construction of political legitimacy Unpacking Bourdieu’s political capital in post-apartheid Johannesburg
    (2014) Benit-Gbaffou, Claire; Katsaura, Obvious
    In our attempt to unravel the structures, constraints and opportunities under which community leaders operate, we have been inspired, as many before us in different ways , by Bourdieu’s work on political capital, political representation and his analyses of the specificities of the ‘political field’ (Bourdieu, 1991). However, we also feel that his theoretical frames are built on reflections developed at a supra-local scale, in contexts of highly institutionalized or institutionalizing politics (national party apparatuses), and where the politics of informality are not at the center of his observations. We believe our perspectives on the micro-politics of the local in urban societies dominated by informality, and in globalizing and neoliberalizing governance contexts which see the proliferation of governance institutions (private and public, formal and informal, local, national and international) might bring new insights into the understanding of the complex construction of political legitimacies. In particular, we argue that community leaders – being both grounded locally, in close proximity to their constituencies; and in search of institutional recognition (by a party, or a fraction of the state) that might give them less uncertain legitimacy as well as possible access to material resources, need to build their political legitimacies not either from the bottom or from the top, but from both simultaneously. Following Bourdieu’s notion of double dealings (the need for what he calls ’professional politicians’ to fight in the political field as well as in the social field; for their own political positions and as representatives of their mandators), we then elaborate on instances where the relationships between the two legitimation processes (what we call here legitimation from the ‘bottom’ and from the ‘top’) reinforce one another or contradict one another
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    Are Johannesburg peri-central neighbourhoods irremediably ‘fluid’? The local governance of diversity, mobility and competition in Yeoville & Bertrams
    (Wits University Press, 2014) Benit-Gbaffou, Claire
    Johannesburg’s inner city, often emblematized by the infamously known Hillbrow, has often constituted the point of departure for depicting urban chaos, unpredictability, endless mobility, fluidity and undecipherable change – be it in novels and movies (see 2002 Welcome to our Hillbrow, 2010 Zoo City, 2008 Jerusalema), or in academic literature (Morris 1999, Simone 2006). Inner city neighbourhoods, in the CBD but also at its immediate fringe (‘peri-central’ areas) are currently functioning as ports of entry into South African economic capital, for both national and international migrants. They are characterized by a degree of urban decay that have earned these neighborhoods the label of ‘slums’, ‘sinkholes’, in need of ‘urban management’ and re-affirmation of ‘law and order’. Some have also attracted specific attempts at urban regeneration led mostly by the municipality, followed or not by private investment. They are all marked by a level of informality (in housing and in economic activities) which is often a condition for low-income migrants to enter the urban labour and housing markets.
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    (Oxon & New York. Routledge, 2014) Benit-Gbaffou, Claire; Oldfield, Sophie
    In this chapter however, we do not directly use the term ‘right to the city’, as we follow Mayer (2009) in her call against the ‘proliferation of this rights [to the city] discourse’ that runs the risk of weakening its political power (see also Purcell 2002)....Our aim, in articulating urban mobilisation to the notion of ‘rights’ (in the plural) in this chapter, is to understand more narrowly, more practically, and perhaps then theoretically, to what extent these ‘rights’ to the city are (or not) a strategic tool for collective mobilisation in cities of the South to access urban goods, spaces, resources. In this respect, we are more interested in literature that takes the notion of ‘rights’ seriously, in line with Fernandez in Brazil (2007) or Bhan in India (2009) for instance: examining the legal dimension of ‘rights’ and its impacts in securing different forms of access to urban spaces and urban goods. But this approach needs to explicitly take into account how the formality of this definition unfolds in urban politics and collective mobilisation marked by high levels of informality.
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    (CUBES (Centre for Urbanism & Built Environment Studies) and Wits School of Architecture, 2014-11) Bokasa, Patience; Jackson, Ashlyn; Manzini, Siyabonga; Mhlogo, Musa; Mohloboli, Mpho; Nkosi, Malambule; Benit-Gbaffou, Claire (ed)
    It is more than a year after Operation Clean Sweep, where in October 2013 the City of Johannesburg brutally evicted all traders from the streets of inner city Johannesburg. Most of these traders did not belong to street trading organisations, did not have an easy recourse to a language of “rights” as most of them were trading “illegally” in the inner city. Most of them were not organised neither making collective claims, but were used to adopting a politics of invisibility, of every day arrangements and constant mobility. In this context, what is the relevance of street trading organisations: why this research? The response to this question is three-fold. First, street trading organisations seem to be the victim of a double prejudice: a political one, that discards their leadership as opportunistic, their protests as “popcorn”, their organisations as “fly-by-night”, un-representative and irremediably divided. And, to a lesser extent, there is also an academic prejudice against street trading organisations, not considered as forming an authentic “social movement”, or at least seldom included in this field of study (see for instance a number of books devoted to social movements in South Africa - Ballard et al. 2006; Dawson and Sinwell 2012): because of their divisions, their lack of clear -let alone radical- ideological position, and their intrinsic fragility and fluidity. Yet, street trader organisations persist.
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    Local Government, Gender and Integrated Development Planning
    (HSRC Press, 2007) Todes, Alison; Williamson, Amanda; Sithole, Pearl
    The South African Constitution is one of the most progressive in the world. It demonstrates a commitment to promoting equality for men and women, and entrenches women's rights. This commitment is carried through in several government policies, but there are debates about the extent of its implementation. Since 1994, local government has become a more important sphere than before. It is bigger than it once was, and has a larger mandate than before. \it has been described as the 'hands and feet' of the government, and is expected to play a key role in developing its local areas. Like national government, local government must carry through the commitment to women's empowerment and gender equity.
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    State ambitions and peoples’ practices: An exploration of RDP housing in Johannesburg
    (University of Sheffield, 2013) Charlton, Sarah
    This study investigates the programme’s outcomes in Johannesburg through the perspectives of both RDP beneficiaries and state housing practitioners. Findings transcend the denigration of RDP housing as ‘poorly located’, revealing people’s complex interactions with their housing which show its flaws and limitations but also their attachment to it. To minimise the shortcomings of the housing benefit RDP settlements are appropriated, adapted and transformed, households composition may be re-configured and alternative accommodation off-site brought into play. In general the state has limited insight into this intricacy, little institutional appetite to explore it and holds contradictory positions on the outcomes of the programme. Despite the evident resources and power of the state, it is confounded by the complexity of people’s practices. More broadly, the study contributes to housing and planning literature through its focus on the interface between state and beneficiary practices. Peoples’ responses to RDP housing emphasise both the state’s limited capacity in addressing the housing need, but also the catalytic value and potential its intervention triggers. Rather than portraying the state and the subaltern as clashing over conflicting rationalities, it illuminates their overlapping aspirations and mutual shaping of space.
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    The Map of Gauteng: evolution of a city-region in concept and plan
    (Gauteng City Region Observatory (GCRO), 2013-07) Mabin, Alan
    This Occasional Paper is one of two that GCRO has commissioned specifically to deepen our understanding of the past of the GCR. Both focus on aspects of the region’s spatial past, and ought to be read together. This paper by Alan Mabin explores how the idea of a city-region found expression in various statutory planning frameworks over the course of the last century, and how embryonic cityregion concepts influenced spatial decisions and developments. The companion paper by Brian Mubiwa and Harold Annegarn considers the different but related issue of the actual historical spatial evolution of the GCR. It examines key spatial changes that have shaped the region over a century and provides a remarkable picture, based on satellite imagery, of regional spatial growth in the last two decades.
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    City Planners
    (HSRC Press, 2009) Todes, Alison
    City planning is a small profession, with only 3 790 graduates by 2004. Data sources on the profession are limited, and there are only a few, mainly qualitative studies. 'Planning' as it is described in the Planning Professions Act (No.36 of 2002), was designated as a 'scarce skill' in the context of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgisa) and the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (Jipsa) (Berrisford 2006; Dol 2006b) Lack of Planning capacity was seen as constraining development in two main ways: through slow processing of land development applications, which was seen as holding up development; and through the lack of transformation of South African cities, perpetuating conditions such as long and costly travel to work, with impacts on labour costs. Further, the focus on infrastructure-led development would also require increased planning capacity.
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    Gender in Planning and Urban Development
    (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2009-12) Malaza, Nqobile; Todes, Alison; Williamson, Amanda
    There is increasing evidence that women and men experience cities in different ways. Therefore gender-sensitive urban planning is needed. However, like other built environment occupations, the planning profession has traditionally been ‘gender blind’. The Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) has been a strong advocate for ‘reinventing planning’ (Farmer et al. 2006). CAP argues for ‘planning as an inclusive process ... rooted in concerns for equity’ (CAP 2008). Gender equality is one dimension of this kind of inclusive planning. This position, which was endorsed by the UN-Habitat World Urban Forum in 2006, also reflects the Commonwealth’s strong commitment to gender equality. So why does gender matter in urban planning? And, what might ‘gendered planning practice’ hope to achieve?
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    Aiton Court: Relocating Conservation between Poverty and Modern Idealism
    (International committee for documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighbourhoods of the modern movement, 2013-01) le Roux, Hannah; Hart, Brendan; Mayat, Yasmin
    Aiton Court, in Johannesburg, is a case study in how heritage and economics clash in economically constrained cities. This iconic and formally innovative Modern apartment block from 1937 is located in an area where the income levels of tenants are now very low. Although the building is protected by legislation, the viability of its restoration is being further tested by a rent boycott. The article covers the building’s history, and questions how to approach its conservation differently, given the strong demand for housing at a cost level that would be excluded by purely market–led gentrification. We propose that locating conservation strategies in relation to the building’s history and to other subsidies aimed at the public good may provide other routes to preserving Aiton Court.
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    An Interpretation of Sustainable Development and Urban Sustainability in Low-Cost Housing and Settlements in South Africa
    (University of Cape Town Press, 2003) Irurah, Daniel K; Boshoff, Brian
    The sustainable development paradigm can be viewed as a convergence of two paradigms that initially evolved in an antagonistic manner, possibly as far back as the industrial revolution. The first one is the growth and development paradigm, which was strongly rooted in economic growth based on the economic output of an economy as measured by GDP (gross domestic product). Until the late 1900s, governments and communities had committed themselves to a vision of improved standards of living through increasing the GDP of their respective economies, while paying minimal attention to environmental and resource impacts. Then in the 1950s to 1970s the environmental movement coalesced after almost a century of isolated pronouncements on resource and environmental degradation arising from exponential population growth as well as increasing levels of production and consumption. The movement argued that unless humanity voluntarily controlled population and economic growth, environmental and resource degradation would put a limit on human survival. The strongest substantiation of the argument was presented in the Club of Rome Report, Limits to Growth (Meadows et al., 1972).
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    Carlton Centre Limited. Statistics and General Information Relating to Carlton Centre
    (Johannesburg City Coucil, City Engineer., 1970-09-11) Johannesburg PD/MGS/GSF
    The promotors of Carlton Centre are the Anglo American Corporation of South Africa, Limited and The South African Breweries Limited...The excavation necessary to permit the construction of the below ground levels was one of the largest ever undertaken anywhere in the world for a commercial building project.
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    City of Johannesburg. Brief History of the Development of its system of Government
    (Public Relations Officer, City Hall, P.O.Box 1049, Johannesburg, 1967) Public Relations Office, City Hall, Johannesburg
    On 8th September, 1886, Paul Kruger, president of the Transvaal Republic, signed a proclamation declaring several farms, including Randjieslaagte, on the Witwatersrand ("Ridge of White Waters") public gold diggings. The biggest gold rush in history began to what was until then a piece of bare veld and rocky outcrop.