Lind­say Howe 

 

Near­ly twen­ty years after apart­heid, Johannesburg’s urban con­stel­la­ti­ons con­ti­nue to reflect its histo­ry of spa­ti­al segre­ga­ti­on and exem­pli­fy socio-spa­ti­al ine­qua­li­ty. Despi­te the rela­ti­ve wealth of the city and scope of its admi­nis­tra­ti­on, plan­ning has not yet been able to over­co­me the­se ing­rai­ned pat­terns of pover­ty and ine­qua­li­ty. Its struc­tu­re remains mar­ked by the encla­ves and buf­fer zones plan­ned during apart­heid. Sin­ce the end of apart­heid, many of the city’s in-bet­ween and for­mer buf­fer zone spaces have been aban­do­ned or have been appro­pria­ted as infor­mal sett­le­ments. Exami­ning the socio-spa­ti­al iso­la­ti­on of the­se are­as is the star­ting point of the pro­ject, using Johannesburg’s uni­que urban nar­ra­ti­ve and struc­tu­re as the basis for the for­mu­la­ti­on of a coope­ra­ti­ve approach to urban deve­lop­ment. Defi­ning and tes­ting this tool, ent­it­led coope­ra­ti­ve urba­nism, is the pri­ma­ry goal of rese­arch.

In order to achie­ve the pro­ject objec­tives, several metho­do­lo­gies will be employ­ed. This inclu­des both methods that will be uni­que pro­duc­ts of the dis­ser­ta­ti­on as well as estab­lished methods from the soci­al sci­en­ces. Coope­ra­ti­ve urba­nism is a method to deter­mi­ne how to imple­ment stra­te­gic urban deve­lop­ment; it is in its ear­ly sta­ges of deve­lop­ment and must be defi­ned in detail during the cour­se of rese­arch. Eth­no­gra­phic rese­arch and mobi­le moni­to­ring are both methods of data collec­tion and will com­ple­ment one ano­t­her in this pro­ject. Eth­no­gra­phic rese­arch inclu­ding expert inter­views, eth­no­gra­phic inter­views, and anno­ta­ted walks is an estab­lished method of the soci­al sci­en­ces. Mobi­le moni­to­ring is a form of GIS tracking in its ear­ly sta­ges of imple­men­ta­ti­on and will be refi­ned during the cour­se of rese­arch. Map­ping is a well-estab­lished ana­ly­ti­cal method of both the soci­al sci­en­ces and the fields of archi­tec­tu­re and urban plan­ning. Pro­ven methods of com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­ti­on and urban/architectural design tools will also be employ­ed.

The project’s main hypo­the­sis is that a stra­te­gy to redu­ce the socio-spa­ti­al ine­qua­li­ty of the city, or its ine­qua­li­ty foot­print, must retro­fit the exis­ting urban fabric with public resour­ces and spaces based on the ever­y­day pat­terns of low-inco­me popu­la­ti­ons. Solu­ti­ons that rely sole­ly on for­mal, top-down plan­ning mecha­nisms often fail to address the ever­y­day and infor­mal pat­terns of the city. A new con­cept of coope­ra­ti­ve urba­nism would the­re­fo­re focus on the needs of its least pri­vi­le­ged resi­dents, crea­ting oppor­tu­nities for par­ti­ci­pato­ry pro­ces­ses and impro­ving trans­pa­ren­cy in urban deve­lop­ment decisi­on-making. This con­cept will con­tri­bu­te to cur­rent deba­te as to how exis­ting urban fabric can be modi­fied with punc­tu­al, incre­men­tal inter­ven­ti­ons to achie­ve grea­ter urban equi­ta­bi­li­ty and sustai­na­bi­li­ty.