A democratic city?: the role of transport networks on social cohesion

Makhubu, Jabu Absalom
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Urbanity is political, thus, urbanists have to engage in political issues and systems in order to address the injustice of the past, especially in the context of South African cities. 2014 marks South Africa’s 20th year into democracy, but what are the achievements and advancements in changing the legacy the country inherited? “What is the spatial layout/”blueprint” of a democratic city and society?” “Democratic urban space is derived from the design for all concept” Kurdistan et al, 2012, 71. Burdett, 2013 argues that a multiple scale perspective informs us that social processes are the outcomes of often hidden spatial narratives, alongside more conventional social science considerations. “It is perhaps the role of urban scholarship to bring informal role players and professional agencies closer together, both through theoretical reframing of the contemporary urban crisis and by the identification and explanation of projects and initiatives that are, by default or design, changing our urban world, as they contribute to making cities just and equitable” (Burdett, 2013, 365). This research attempts to act on Burdett’s call above. It discusses the inherited legacy of social, economic, and physical separation, in the goal of understanding the development trajectories proposed by the City of Johannesburg that are focused at addressing this legacy. Regional and neighbourhood projects such as the Gautrain, Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Trainsit, and Alexandra Renewal project are being implemented throughout the city. Very few projects such as the Corridors of Freedom focus both on the regional and metropolitan scale. This research specifically focuses on the metropolitan scale; it unpacks, and expands on the City’s vision of a Socially Cohesive city. Furthermore, it proposes an urban design framework that identifies key projects at a metropolitan level that need consideration in order to change the image of Johannesburg
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Urban Design, June 2015.