The transformation of Gandhi Square: the search for socially inclusive heritage and public space in the Johannesburg city centre

Itzkin, Eric
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ABSTRACT The need to create socially inclusive public space has gained increasing attention among policy makers at the City of Johannesburg. A rise in the privatisation of public space has however been criticised by some analysts as exclusionary. In that context, this study explores the recent development of Gandhi Square as a central city heritage site which operates as privately-managed public space. The re-imaging of the Square has been inspired by M.K. Gandhi’s association with the site. As its main aim, the study assesses the effectiveness of heritage interventions made at the site in meeting their intended goal of addressing a legacy of spatial exclusion through the creation of socially inclusive public space. It evaluates the historical legacy of M.K. Gandhi as the figurehead for the new Square, considered in relation to issues of social inclusion and diversity. Further, the study explores whether the private management of Gandhi square accommodates diversity. It concludes that Gandhi Square is, on both a symbolic and functional level, broadly inclusive of diversity in the context of the Johannesburg inner city.
Gandhi Square, inclusive public space, heritage policy, Johannesburg city centre, Mohandas Gandhi, city improvement districts