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Distorted Perspectives_Notes From the (Urban) Edge.

Editors Gerhard Bruyns and Arie Graafland
With contributions by M. Christine Boyer, Gerhard Bruyns, Arie Graafland,
Patrick Heller, Ena Jansen, Johan Lagae, Bongani Ngqulunga, Hannah le Roux,
Lesley Lokko, Iain Low, Edgar Pieterse, AbdouMaliq Simone, Alta Steenkamp
010 Publishers Rotterdam 2012
Delft School of Design Series on Architecture and Urbanism
Series Editor
Arie Graafland
Editorial Board
K. Michael Hays (Harvard University, USA) | Ákos Moravánszky (ETH Zürich, Switzerland)
Michael Müller (Bremen University, Germany) | Frank R. Werner (University of Wuppertal, Germany)
Gerd Zimmermann (Bauhaus University, Germany)
African Per-
spectives –
[South] Africa.
City, Society,
Space, Litera-
ture and
Section 3: Urban Design,
Civic Action and Agency in
South Africa
166 Signs from the Margins: Design as instrument of empowerment
in the ‘new’ South Africa Iain Low 188 Transformation’s urban
agents – South Africa then and now Alta Steenkamp 198 Remaking
the Apartheid City: Local Government and Civil Society in South
Africa Patrick Heller and Bongani Ngqulunga 218 Distorted Perspec-
tives; Notes From the (Urban) Edge. Pondering 10 Years of Urban
Change for an Urban South Africa Gerhard Bruyns 244 The Informal
City and the Crisis of Housing M. Christine Boyer 260 Formal and
Informal Realities of Urban Design, Civic Action and Agency in the
South African City Gerhard Bruyns and Iain Low
Section 4: Closure & Perspectives
270 Pondering (South) African Urban Development. Oppositions
and correlations Dialogue between Iain Low and Gerhard Bruyns
290 Reappropriation Gerhard Bruyns and Iain Low
300 Contributors’ Biographies
304 Credits
6 Preface and Acknowledgements Gerhard Bruyns
14 Introduction Arie Graafland
Section 1: Other Urbanisms
30 Reclaiming Black Urbanism: Inventive methods for engaging
urban fields in Africa and beyond AbdouMaliq Simone 50 Notes towards
an Alternative Framework for Urban Development Edgar Pieterse
64 A Perspective of Emergencies: A Case of Langa Iain Low
Section 2: Tradition, Culture
and Education
76 Suspectculture Lesley Lokko 88 Towards a Rough Guide for
Lubumbashi, Congo. Rethinking ‘shared built heritage’ in a former
Belgian colony Johan Lagae 110 Wanderers among ruins. Walking and
driving in Johannesburg novels Ena Jansen 138 Learning making
agency Hannah le Roux 158 A Visual Perspective: Tradition, Culture
and Education of an African Architecture and Urbanism Iain Low
1 cf. Latin; ‘plural lustra’, No exact English word adequately translates the Latin meaning.
See Last accessed March 2012.
Preface and Acknowledgements
Gerhard Bruyns
Within the Latin language, and especially within Ancient Roman society, the word ‘Lustrum had
two distinct meanings. Its rst meaning denoted a ritual cleansing of the state by way of sacrices
held every ve years. Its second meaning is referential to the period itself, that is to say it denotes
the ve-year cleansing cycle. Yet, the use and conceptual understanding of ‘Lustrum is not to
be confused with a reading of the term simply as a ritual or representative of a specic period.
Lustrum activities were in fact perceived as a period of renewal and heightened awareness. Each
Lustrum rearmed the state’s position in relation to society. It was a period during which the
responsible Magistrates of the State reassessed the funding of projects, moral obligation and state
objectives. Moreover, it conceptually unied the state and its role within the society of the day
before initiating a statewide census of the population.
In  Delft University of Technology celebrated its th year. Coincidentally, the year also marked
the University’s rd Lustrum year. To commemorate this specic moment in the University’s
history it was decided to focus on the sustainability debate, especially with regard to the African
continent. As part of the celebration and the chosen theme, the Faculty of Architecture initiated an
event to embody the issues of sustainability, African societies, architecture and urbanism relating
to that continent. rough what was to become African Perspectives Africaines () the faculty
invoked a literal gathering of professionals, organizations, institutions and skilled individuals
to debate the main and various undercurrents that impact contemporary questions concerning
sustainability and the built landscape in Africa.
African Perspectives Africaines marked out ve specic areas of interest. ese were () Buildings in
Africa, () Built Heritage, () African Architecture, () African Diaspora and () Urban Devel-
opment in Africa. e Urban Development Stall was jointly chaired by Professor Arie Graaand
(Delft School of Design – Delft University of Technology) and Professor Iain Low (School of
Architecture, Planning and Geomatics – University of Cape Town).
Due to the extensive nature of what constitutes urbanism and urbanization in Africa, we
decided to limit the scope and questioning of the Urban Development stall to the domain of the
South African ‘city-context’ and its ‘transformative development’ as part of a post-apartheid legacy.
It further questioned the concomitant socioeconomic and environmental realities, absorbed as
urban conditions in both the urban and architectural sense, by looking at the manners through
which transformative realities took place. rough the processes of liaising and engaging with
local practitioners and academics, which I was appointed to do as stall coordinator, it could further
dene three specic sub-themes relevant to an urban focus. ese were represented by the cat-
egories () Other Urbanisms, () Tradition, Culture, Educations and () Urban Design, Civic
Action and Agency in South Africa’s urban landscape.
8 9
Preface and Acknowledgements
Firstly, this publication seeks to summarize the various dialogues presented during
the   Conference. It furthermore represents an attempt to construct a
critical dialogue of current spatial practices and contemporary design instruments
in relation to social, political and governance structures through both an architec-
tural and an urban lens. Additional material was later included in this publication
as moments of reection through which to compare what others had written on
similar topics. More specically, the Introduction by Arie Graaand, my text on
Distorted Perspectives as well as the discussion/dialogue in Section  between
Iain Low and myself, were produced as recently as . e more recent work is
meant to both refresh and reect on the notions valid during the  conference
and how these notions embody themselves in the  context.
Secondly, we would like to acknowledge key players who helped with making both
the event and this publication a reality. We would rst like to acknowledge the
Academic Institutions of both Delft University of Technology and the University
of Cape Town, South Africa, for securing a platform aimed at contributing to the
collective and critical aspects key to the on-going African debate. Here I would
like to make specic reference to the former Rector of the  Delft, Professor
Jacob Fokkema, and the then Dean of Delft’s Faculty of Architecture, Professor
Wytze Patijn. ey both undertook an enormous commitment in ‘casting’ the
foundations for the  movement and greater African awareness.
I would like to thank the coordination work of ArchiAfrika, especially Berend
van der Lans and Antoni Folkers. What started o as a project anchored by per-
sonal interest has with the inaugural and later African Perspectives Africaines
conferences, become a lifelong commitment. It was thanks to Berend’s daily
management that the rst  conference ran without a hitch.
Our thanks too to the Zuid-Afrika Huis in Amsterdam. e House – and in
particular Dr Sief Veltkamp Visser and Mrs Corine de Maijer – provided assistance
and material for the stall as well as allowing us use of the House during moments
of core decisions and for strategy meetings. It was a tting gesture from their side
to allow the rst African Perspectives Africaines convocation to be held in Sep-
tember of .
We would like to express our gratitude to the South African Government,
especially Janet Kotze, First Political Secretary to the South African High Com-
mission in London, for allowing us the use of South Africa’s contribution to the
 Venice Architecture Biennale. e exhibition entitled Between Ownership
and Belonging, curated by Mphethi Morojele, formed a magnicent backdrop to
the various debates, contextualizing architecture in relation to what was stated by
each contributor. It was with sadness to realize that the  conference was the
last opportunity to display this exhibit, as a re devastated Delft’s Faculty of
Architecture in , along with the exhibit in its basement.
Personally I would like to thank two important individuals. Professor Iain Low has, for the entire
process, been a key player and driving force. His input and contributions not only helped steer the
ideas that generated the stall’s contents but additionally helped to maintain a critical perspective
throughout. e formulation of themes, and the drawing together of key players in South Africa
are accredited to Professor Low’s involvement and enthusiasm. We truly remain indebted to you.
And nally, a word of thanks to Professor Arie Graaand, former Director of the Delft School
of Design, Delft University of Technology. Professor Graaand’s insight saw beyond the obstacles
of tackling such an unfamiliar topic, and he was willing to venture into uncharted territory. He
displayed trust in the event, in those involved, as well as in the means of making this publication
a reality. I can state with full certainty that without Professor Graaand’s involvement, neither the
event, nor this publication would have seen the light of day. It has been a wonderful experience
to work, learn and teach alongside such a great mentor.
1 Urban Development Stall poster. Source:
African Perspectives Africains, 2007.
2-6 Urban Development Stall. Stall layout and
set-up. Source: African Perspectives Africains,
Berend van der Lans and Hans Schouten, 2007.
7 AbdouMaliq Simone. Source: African Per-
spectives Africains, Berend van der Lans and
Hans Schouten, 2007.
8 Mphethi Morojele, curator of ‘Between
Ownership and Belonging: Transitional Space
in the Post-Apartheid Metropolis’. Source:
African Perspectives Africains, Berend van
der Lans and Hans Schouten, 2007.
[5] [6]
9-11 Urban Development Stall. Stall layout
and set-up. Source: African Perspectives
Africains, Berend van der Lans and Hans
Schouten, 2007.
12 Student work; Urban Development Cape
Town study. Source: African Perspectives
Africains, Berend van der Lans and Hans
Schouten, 2007.
13, 14 African Perspectives conference,
main gathering space. Source: African
Perspectives Africains, Berend van der Lans
and Hans Schouten, 2007.
[11] [12]
[13] [14][9]
Civic Action
and Agency
in South
Section 3
Distorted Perspectives;
Notes From the (Urban) Edge.
Pondering 10 Years of
Urban Change for an Urban
South Africa
Gerhard Bruyns
Departures and arrivals On  September , at precisely  pm, I boarded a
Swiss air ight bound for Amsterdam via Zurich. It was the start of a life-long desire to study
abroad and a process of discovering life in Europe. Exactly  years on, I nd myself rooted in
Amsterdam and still think of myself as ‘proudly South African.’
My yearly visits to the country have become an annual pilgrimage. ey have become journeys
of rekindling with immediate family, rst and foremost. As years passed, the journeys transmuted
into a process of registering dierences and similarities of a place once so familiar. An -hour
journey to Oliver Tambo International Airport has become a period of reecting on what was
there before, and in what detail I can recall its particularities.
Change remains inevitable. Irrespective of being local, or simply an annual visitor to a destination,
one will always notice the manner or degrees of transformation. Alterations of routes, the addition
of public services or simply a dierence in the number of buildings along a highway can easily become
a denitive referential point of change within an observer’s historical and experiential framework.
More important, however, is the manner in which the observer questions change. Teaching a number
of design related studios as part of the Delft School of Design’s Masters Curricula – at the Faculty
of Architecture, Delft University of Technology – has personally assisted me in developing the skills
and observational techniques to critically reect on conditions of urban transformations. Our c
 design studio of Santiago De Chile, Chile, has shown us how to look for signs of mismatch in
order to spot the mechanism at work as part of neoliberal strategies inuencing both the human and
morphological contexts. e studio and research work has further exposed the subtle manifesta-
tions of change. It has pointed towards various forms of material embodiment, as multiple shifts
occur in policies, economies and modes of production. A similar relation was shown to be opera-
tional in ’s c // Student work on Mexico City’s Ecatapec Region. Our Singapore studio
(c  level) highlighted the socio-political practices of an island state, inuenced by the global
market forces which literally programme the island’s urban surfaces as well as its spatial domains.
Singapore student work dealt with economic and governmental policies, social policy and control,
the design and make-up of specic social processes related to city and neighbourhood congur-
ations all in the context of island scale infrastructures.
How can one measure shifts or transformations in time? e purpose of this essay is to address
both generic and specic conditions of change, either on the ground or from the air. e account
given is a personal one, relying on observations to inform the descriptions behind an urban land-
scape. It does not theorize nor explore deep crevasses of theoretical notions in order to explain
220 221
Distorted Perspectives; Notes From the (Urban) Edge. Pondering 10 Years of Urban Change for an Urban South Africa
1 Bruno Latour, Paris: Invisible City, EN/index.html. Last
accessed 1 May 2010.
2 Alfred Schütz (1899-1959) was an Austrian social scientist whose work dealt with sociological
and phenomenological traditions as part of a discourse known as social phenomenology. See
Alfred Schultz and Thomas Luckmann, The Structure of the Life-World (London: Heinemann,
3 Joel Garreau, Edge City: Life on the New Frontier (New York: Doubleday, 1991).
phenomena. It embodies a rst-hand account of how phenomena have been
encountered at various moments spanning an -year period. And, although
certain South Africans may see the various transformative types as self-evident,
the eects are shown to communicate change to a larger ‘global’ audience.
Collections of images, taken on foot or in processes of moving through a
landscape, contextualize and survey moments of urban change. Images are meant
to function as a visual mechanism, mirroring conditions with which South Africans
have become so familiar. One may notice that images reappear in more than one
‘type’ of change, highlighting the bilateral and independent relationships between
certain transformative phenomena. A particular ‘type’ may have one specic and
main characteristic, whereas the same characteristic may reappear as a consequence
to other ‘types’. Moreover, certain characteristics may be viewed to be a consequence
of urban change within one urban ‘type’, where the exact same characteristics may
be seen as a main instigator for change within another.
In the following account, which I have entitled Distorted Perspectives; Notes from the
Urban Edge, I have identied what I call ‘transformative types’ and have examined
how these types range from identity to the larger problematique of urban form.
It is also necessary to speak about urban form and of what may be termed mor-
phological nomenclatures. When I speak of types I do not intend this to suggest
denitive and closed systems. Indeed, as the material will show, this opens up more
questions and exposes larger undercurrents than is often immediately visible, and,
further, the magnitude of variables are such that they facilitate the very formative
process that is instrumental in inducing change.
I have obviously drawn from the work of Bruno Latour, and have been espe-
cially inuenced by his accounts in Invisible Paris, and his notion of ‘life worlds’,
which has a clear phenomenological provenance especially in the work of Schultz.
However, what is given here is also strictly conditioned, in that it consists of notes
gathered from a specic perspective. ey may be called ‘notes from my urban
edge’. No matter how familiar one is with a place, it is ironic to nd that the
habitual dulls the sense of recognition, a situation that is often only radically
exposed when the all too familiar place is viewed from a distance and there is
a genuine altered perspective.
What I propose to show is the way in which the character of the cities in
South Africa is becoming more American. I will rst examine the issue of urban
sprawl. Secondly I will draw attention to the focus on road infrastructure and see
how this has replicated the norms and characters of the American city. irdly,
and this will be seen to have the deepest signicance for the range of economic
and social consequences now forming, is the issue of the dependency of the South
African city on zoning and particular planning instruments. Whilst the emphasis
on the American provenance of much of city development is argued, I will also
show that the city in South Africa does not completely follow such a model.
e variations and dierences point to specic shifts in the questions posed against morpho-
logical analysis and a revision of how we understand urban elements. e impact on architecture
will become increasingly clear in view of Foucault’s consideration of ‘other spaces’ and its signi-
cant impact on the spaces’ security. Finally I will address some specics of the informal economy,
which I would prefer to call the ‘parallel economy’, and introduce some critical reections on the
current thinking in South Africa with regard to the future of cities on the African continent.
Transformation 1 Americanization of the (South) African city.
How South African cities are becoming more American in character
As a rst and general statement with regard to the South African city’s asymmetrical path of
development, I would like to state that the South African city has generally shown strong tenden-
cies and similarities to American settlements. More specically, the truth of this statement is given
weight and agency through the conditions displayed by cities in terms of sprawl, zoning and the
importance placed on infrastructure. is is a condition I shall elaborate on in detail later in this
text to show the possible variations within the South African landscape.
Letting cities sprawl: Overall the South African city has gradually – especially in the last
decade – displayed in its transformation process tendencies similar to those of other global settle-
ments. It is recognized that the post- South Africa has implemented a number of policies in
order to facilitate change, change at the level of achieving socio-political transformations as well
as to help facilitate cultural shifts. ese policies further helped secure specic mechanisms in
order to lure global investors, as well as help attract a skilled and technologically competent labour
force to the country’s shores.
Parallel to an increase in population, a shift in material wealth and gradual social progression,
the urban landscape was forced to realign its boundaries and developmental patterns. What we
encounter today is a swathe of urban development, at both the formal and informal levels. We
observe an exponential increase in the housing demand, a higher number of business related
activities, with an ever higher number of high-end leisure facilities. Corridor developments along
highways are feeling a similar burden. ‘Crusts’ of development are densifying along a vast number
of highways, especially those connecting important metropolitan regions. e fusion of the
Johannesburg-Midrand-Pretoria metro regions can, as a result, be read as a single urban complex.
Similar fusions of landscapes have been noted in the greater metropolitan regions of Durban as
well as for Cape Town and the surrounding region.
South Africa has echoed the American urban model in its conditions related to sprawl. At
a generic level, the American city has been described by authors such as Joel Garreau as ‘Edge
Cities’. Garreau specically argues from a perspective that centres the car as the prime reason for
the sprawl within American cities. Apart from a general lack of a cohesive and well maintained
222 223
Distorted Perspectives; Notes From the (Urban) Edge. Pondering 10 Years of Urban Change for an Urban South Africa
4 Alex S. MacLean, Designs on the Land: Exploring America from the Air (New York:
Thames and Hudson, 2003).
5 ‘In 2003 Mbeki introduced Black Economic Empowerment, a code that forced all companies
to give a share of ownership to blacks, give a percentage of contracts to black-owned companies
and employ a proportion of black workers at specific grades. It is ironic that while the ANC
combated apartheid racism by a Marxist non-racialist class-based strategy, it chose to deal with
the legacy of apartheid by turning to a race-based Africanist philosophy.’ Taken from Richard
Dowden, Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles (London: Portobello Books, 2009),
p. 406.
6 Tshwane Town Planning Scheme, 2008. Classification Table B. Promulgated 23 April
inner urban form, Garreau highlights the urban consequences of a car based society.
ey have become cities of vast and extensive scales, all dominated by elaborate
road infrastructure. is is also apparent in the images of the American city as
documented by Alex MacLean in his work entitled Designs on the Land: Exploring
America from the Air. e South African city faces a similar future.
Dependency on the car has forced the South African city to become a collec-
tion of landscapes. Driving through various parts we observe vast regions claimed
by various types of housing, polycentric commercial enclaves, interlinked by grey
surfaces and tarmacs. With the primary focus on roads, as a main connector and
an urban web, and with an enormous lack of public transportation, the South
African city has eectively become ‘a city of distance’. Places and functions are
in fact spatially ‘distant’. e city in this sense has become an elaborate collection
of places, interwoven with just as many non-places. Connecting between one place
and another has become impossible without the use of the car and major road
infrastructure. It has further resulted in a condition where parallel realities exist
in terms of street life. e inuence of the car as the preferred means of transport
has extracted life from inner and auent neighbourhoods in opposition to inner
cities areas with a magnitude of users and pedestrians.
Countrywide power grid failures experienced between  and  aected
all urban conditions, including the use of automotive-based transport. Apart from
households experience power shortages, travelling within the urban movement
grid also became a problem. A crippled road system caused travel times to become
twice as long as normal. A journey that usually took  minutes to complete became
a major exercise in road navigation, elevating travel times to – minutes per
journey. Although this naturally highlighted the dependency of a well planned road
system, it simultaneously placed emphasis on an awareness that most South African
cities have become a landscape caught within the clutches of st-century sprawl.
With this in mind, the second factor of Americanization of the South African
settlement is its focus on road infrastructure, road infrastructure and once more,
road infrastructure. Road infrastructure in South Africa has essentially replicated
the norms and character shown by the American city. Physical infrastructure, wide
roads, larger surfaces of grey tarmac and the ease of independent car transportation
have proven to be one of the major requirements for any city in transformation.
Whilst planners have to perform a delicate balancing act between adhering to the
minimum requirement to accommodate a number of cars and providing ease of
access to places, so are civil engineers constantly busy with road development and
strategic planning of infrastructure. Never before have so many s,  xs and
larger passenger vehicles populated South African roads. eir presence will
arguably be one of safety rather than comfort. e desire to live in safe enclaves,
well connected to all places of the urban territory, helps facilitate a mindset of
implementing well connected road infrastructure and a uid and operational
e  World Cup Football Championship hosted by South Africa brought forth an aware-
ness of better, more ecient road connectivity. Main metropolitan regions such as Tshwane,
Johannesburg, Polokwane and Cape Town have implemented various road ‘cosmetics’ programmes.
Ring roads and other metropolitan freeways underwent alterations such as the widening of roads,
resetting of road surfaces, setting up new barrier systems and literally repainting certain signage to
ensure roads’ legibility. Inner city roads followed similar strategies as specic roads passing through
neighbourhoods had to be upgraded for a higher road capacity. During this period of major redevel-
opment, daily commuters had to deal with delays during both rush hours of the day. It literally
meant that the roadside landscape was altered with newly acquired bridges, new yovers and
electronic information systems.
At present, driving along the Pretoria-Johannesburg N highway, one notices the newly placed
white ‘bridges’ spanning the width of the entire highway. In the aftermath of the  games,
South African residents and car users are being forced to pay additional toll and surcharges on
the various routes, previously free of use for all. A larger debate is still on-going, with suggestions
by government to exclude ‘black’ taxis from payment. is seems to be one of the most radical
reversals enforced by black empowerment on the users and payers of infrastructures within South
e third and nal consequence in the South African City is its dependency on zoning as a
planning tool. Although the generic construct of the South African city remains African in its
social composition and processes, it nonetheless remains an urban landscape echoing a specic
urban planning legacy. City landscapes of South Africa, for the most part, mirror a ‘zoning mind-
set’. Whether this mindset is reminiscent of a lingering legacy of an apartheid era or an unwill-
ingness to change in turbulent times, the practices and disciplines involved remain centred around
zoning as a key planning tool.
From ocial documents and policies, it is possible to divide the width and breadth of the
landscape into a number of urban zones. e city council of Tshwane alone denes  urban zones.
ey range between  residential types,  business zones,  industrial categories, commercial,
educational, institutional, municipal, governmental, agricultural, public, undetermined, public
open space, private open space, existing and proposed streets, aerodrome, Special Administrative
Region (..), infrastructure works, special zones and zones designated as cemeteries.Each
zone is specic to a specic parcel of land and its functioning order. In practice, one can easily spot
the various implemented zones. Enclaves of commerce are balanced with enclaves of housing.
Zones of industry are found clustered together, located at a distance away from main residential
224 225
Distorted Perspectives; Notes From the (Urban) Edge. Pondering 10 Years of Urban Change for an Urban South Africa
zones. Housing regions are laid to a standard norm, dividing plots of land into
a number of plots, each with similar dimensions, facing a standard road and ser-
viced by a required number of street lights, sewerage pipes and electrical cables.
What is worrisome is how planning still absorbs and neutralizes urban and
spatial specicities at the ground level. Such overpowering mechanisms remain as
part of the archetypal top-down modernist planning legacy. It does not necessarily
accept or incorporate established or historic spatial traditions, the dierences
between formal and the informal, or the specics of human processes within the
larger question related to sustainability. Nor does the modernist legacy acknow-
ledge the importance of the highly specic socio-spatial or socio-economic and
multi-dimensional construct, let alone a need for well designed and integrated
urban centres.
In combination, zoning, sprawl and infrastructure represent three quintessential
aspects which cover a wide and extensive debate on sprawl. And, although they
do not represent the full spectrum of factors responsible for sprawl, as witnessed
globally, they remain of relevance as they continue to play signicant roles in
South as well as Southern Africa’s urban landscape and its development. e
urban project from here on should further explore the options and combinations
available to help steer urbanization along a humanly sustainable trajectory,
equated in terms of the level of the society, economy, spatial formations, infra-
structure and types of architecture. It is hoped that the types of transformations
discussed further in this text will help expose the specic intricacies and ways
forward to help steer this process of improvement.
Transformation 2 The social disparity of inner city and
neighbourhoods During the late s, residential boroughs such as
Arcadia and Sunnyside were known as well established white middle-class
regions, close to Pretoria’s Central Business District.
eir proximity to the city’s  helped facilitate their value to the average
working class family. Both boroughs consisted of numerous multi-story apart-
ment blocks, designed to accommodate a variety of dierent size families.
Accommodation ranged from single occupancy apartments to units large enough
to accommodate a - member family. Each of these regions had a well established
connection to the , facilitated by a well managed, city-wide bus system. Com-
mercial activities were distributed throughout neighbourhoods. Commercial
clusters housed the basic commerce: convenience store, chemist, fast food outlets,
liquor store and other small commodity stores. Sunnyside in particular had a well
established housing core with at least  main commercial nodes. It was a normal
occurrence to see white kids walking to cinemas on Saturdays or playing in the
parks until it was nearly dark.
e  of Pretoria had a similar character during the late s. Pollies
Arcade, the State eatre and Sammy Marks Square, to name a few, all faced
Church Street, Pretoria’s main urban axis. Church Street, along its entire length, linked a variety
of places, hotels, commercial functions and urban spaces together as it led towards its epicentre
and termination point of Church Square. Church Square, in turn, was perceived as the main
administrative and legislative point for the city with provincial and some national government
functions surrounding the square. In both instances the presence of white and black remained
very much divided. As a young child I remember walking from one department store to the next,
without supervision. e city was a ‘safe’ landscape, a familiar ground easily navigated.
Freedom Day Celebrations of  December . Generally this day marked out a transfor m-
ation in both context and social scene. Once more I stood at the foot of the Union Buildings,
overlooking both Sunnyside and Arcadia and observing the festivities at the foot of its extensive
gardens. is national holiday is particularly marked by its signicance in history, bearing rele-
vance to both white as well as black South Africans. It is therefore a day celebrated in music,
dance and spectacle, as a mechanism for linking histories and culture.
e day marked a moment in my personal awareness of Pretoria’s ‘social’ shifts. It was an
understanding generated not by what I saw but rather by whom I saw participating. e day
brought with it a limited number of white participants in contrast to vast numbers of black
spectators. International tourists and observers appeared enthusiastic about the event, the music
and the variety of performances. At one side, the gardens operated as a makeshift stage for music
and dance. On the opposite side, the gardens operated as a backdrop for a pre-wedding photo-
shoot of a black couple.
Visual sampling of both Arcadia and Sunnyside in January  conrmed my initial hunch.
Both regions have experienced social transformation at an extreme scale. Public spaces bore wit-
ness to becoming places of dierence and spaces of isolation. Today very few white families still
reside in Sunnyside. And those who do are thought of as the white urban poor. In most cases both
boroughs saw a mass exodus of white residents to peripheral neighbourhoods. As large as the exodus
was, so too was the intake of black families to ll the vacant apartments. A shift in population
naturally altered the structure of places. Parks were either fenced-in, or closed o for the exclusive
use of a dedicated few. Very few white urban dwellers used public spaces of either Sunnyside or
Arcadia. e white children of yesteryear had long since disappeared from the parks or its neigh-
bourhood streets. Public spaces, once claimed by one ethnic group, were given another lease on
life, as black mothers and toddlers were seen strolling through its streets.
What is more, a most disturbing fact has presented itself as part of Pretoria’s inner urban con-
dition. Various groups have mentioned that non-South African minorities have gradually taken
control of certain pockets of Pretoria’s . Rumours circulate with information of Ghanaian and
Nigerian militias dominating buildings and a number of streets at night, drawing locals into an
ongoing power struggle. And, over and above foreigners controlling urban spaces, local inhabitants
226 227
Distorted Perspectives; Notes From the (Urban) Edge. Pondering 10 Years of Urban Change for an Urban South Africa
7 Xavier De Geyter (ed.), After-Sprawl: Research on the Contemporary City
(Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2002).
8 Gabriele Basilico and Stefano Boeri, Italy: Cross Sections of a Country
(Zurich: Scaleo, 1998).
9 See also Franz Ozwald and Peter Baccini, Netzstadt: Designing the Urban
(Basel: Birkhäuser, 2003).
are further subjected by the vast real-estate exploitation in progress by Chinese
Has the social disparity in the city in general become another consequence of
asymmetrical development? Have equity and transparency in a new South Africa,
advocated by a new political era, become a question of social displacement and
further exclusivity? Have South Africans become socially despondent, or inapt,
unable to live as part of a larger rainbow nation, as one community, within the
space the city provides?
Transformation 3 Morphing types: questioning the
descriptive devices of the urban Sprawl is a global phenomenon.
Urban landscapes and settlements worldwide are experiencing a variety of strain
factors, forcing cities to expand beyond their intent or control. us far European
cities have shown signs of sprawl noticeably beyond the scale of a single city-
territory. Rapid urbanization of the European settlement has not only forced
urbanists to re-examine the sprawl related to urban expansion, but to simultan-
eously examine the various manifestations and the material embodiment as a
consequence of sprawl.
Methodologies of comparing one settlement to another have proven to be
ineective. Scholars have, as a result, chosen an analysis strategy of examining
territories at the scale of settlement-regions. Other approaches have opted to
examine the results caused by sprawl, rather than sprawl itself. Xavier De Geyter
has examined the post-sprawl condition by way of the ‘left-over’ space, the residual
by-product of that which is not lled. Others, such as Stefano Boeri, look at the city
through urban infrastructure, and specically the city and its roads. Irrespective
of approach, studies related to sprawl accept the city as a condition which extends
beyond a mere settlement or specic territory. It eectively becomes ‘urban’, once
settlements and cities become metropolitan in structures and territorial in pro-
cesses. Regions such as the Dutch ‘circular’ Randstad, the Flemish Diamond and
the Basel-Zurich-Bern triangle all represent specic European nomenclatures of
city-territory structures. Each nomenclature further arms a shift in re-addressing
the city as a construct of temporal and social process, multi-layered through
infrastructure and material products, exposed through the societies that inhabit
From a morphological perspective, Stefano Boeri stated that the European
city’s transformation is known as a ‘dust cloud’ of development. European land-
scapes have essentially all become metropolitan, in form, layout, structure and
elemental order. Furthermore, metropolitan settlements are landscapes which
reect a high priority for infrastructure connecting the local with the very global.
Local, ‘quaint’, and previously untouched villages have become metropolitan in
orientation, in their functional distribution, in process, as well as in the way in
which settlements connect to physical networks (highways, seaports, airports,
distribution hubs). Historic centres, in parallel, have become increasingly contaminated by global
tourism, as they feed mass tourism into spaces of the historic or historic-political.
Urban scholars have therefore had to adapt to an altered urban state, by way of how it names
the various urban elements of which cities consist. Transformative dynamics have guided the
discipline to re-examine the morphological components of cities (buildings, plots, functional dis-
tributions, open and closed spaces), and the alternative combinatory logics possible for the metro-
politan landscape. Ongoing research work has shown other (new) possibilities of morphologically
classifying a city without the use of architectural typologies. Renewed descriptive taxonomies
focus on the structural distribution of elements, such as infrastructure in relation to how material
goods are distributed across a landscape.
Sprawl in South Africa is no exception to the global phenomenon. None the less, we are still
left to question the consequences of metropolitan sprawl, in terms of a South African urban land-
scape. More so, as sprawl produces new types of urban structures, the core questions here would
then have to relate to the nomenclatures, form and territorial structure of a Post-Apartheid, and
geopolitically specic, urban-spatial landscape. Pretoria specically, commenced as a settlement
inuenced by a European tradition, but has long since accepted an American process of planning
and zoning to facilitate its growth. As a settlement it is a gridded city, with no denitive high
street. It consists of a multitude of commercial complexes, scattered across the city’s entire length
and breadth. It is a city that is no stranger to the informal economy. Many streets show signs of
curbside trading, with every street holding the potential of becoming a temporary taxi rank. In
contrast, inner regions of residential neighbourhoods are gradually being altered as small scale
commercial activities are gaining foothold amongst free-standing dwellings. Formally, urban
density varies, with regions of high and low density situated adjacent to each other. And, nally,
it remains a city, one that especially in the last  years has expanded its urban horizons to form
part and parcel of an extensive metropolitan crust, as much to the north (Soshanguve & Ham-
manskraal settlements) as to the South (Midrand & Greater Johannesburg regions).
With a city such as this in mind, how would European methodology address a fully metropol-
itan African urban context? Without the proper empirical grounding work, classication remains
speculative. Revised taxonomies would undoubtedly have to include the traditional lists of urban
‘elements’ of cities (historical centres, commercial centre, high streets, various architectural
building types, functional distributions and enclaves formations). A supplemental second – and
perhaps more descriptive – urban list related to the informal, ethnic and social structures, will
nevertheless be required as part of a new urban and nomenclature taxonomy.
Nevertheless, where to start? South African cities still display apartheid planning in their
formal orders and distribution logics. Places previously planned exclusively for whites are cong-
ured through the possibilities of business, leisure and neighbourhoods linked to various highways
228 229
Distorted Perspectives; Notes From the (Urban) Edge. Pondering 10 Years of Urban Change for an Urban South Africa
and secondary routes. At the opposite end, townships still show signs of the mass
produced housing, internally linked by single lane routes and connected to the
‘outside’ by a limited number of accessways. It remains possible to recognize the
formal layout of an old apartheid landscape in comparison to its newly added
structures. e introduction of large commercial complexes totally dominates the
mass housing surrounding it. Aerial perspectives provide further proof of South
Africa’s morphological repertoire. Visual sampling opens more possibilities, as
one easily recognizes pre- and post-apartheid structures through the grains dis-
played by an industrial sector, a residential zone or a township. To date, although
a plethora of literature is dedicated to places culturally important and politically
specic, an explanatory syntax of the urban remains an enigma.
Over and above formal classications, the matter of conceptual urban form
could prove of further value. Following a similar tradition of territorial classica-
tion as those made of Italy, the Randstad or Belgium, one could propose a con-
ceptual and diagrammatic representation at the scale of the regional territory. Let
us examine three possibilities. It would be possible to diagrammatically represent
the Tshwane and Johannesburg regions as two overlapping and facing triangles.
Each triangle would then include a variety of settlements, already in existence.
Directionality or orientation of the triangles could literally point developmental
strategies towards future prospects. One would then have to question whether
developmental focus should aim at the sides of the triangles, or should focus be
given to the three specic points of each triangle. A second possibility would
be to allow for an overlap of the two respective triangles. Focus in this scenario
would be to help steer the formal development of both metropolitan regions to
facilitate a communal and strategic goal. is approach would acknowledge a
mid- or centre-point, as a communal point of convergence. It would, by den-
ition, alter the importance of a geographic point within the strategy, as the point
of convergence might highlight the importance of intermediate cities, for exam-
ple Midrand.
Another, and nal, alternative would be to mark a larger triangle to connect
the metropolitan regions of Tshwane, Johannesburg and the East Rand as one
single urban entity. is would re-direct the formal understanding of a two-tiered
territory to a unitary landscape, made up of one single cohesive metropolitan
policy, executed by a number of smaller metro-regions or municipal districts.
Classication of the landscape in this manner may be looked upon by others
as mere taxonomies and nomenclatures. More importantly, though, such taxono-
mies conceptually represent specic mindsets, referential to a process of formation.
At the same time it would acknowledge the need for a revised understanding of
the various potentials the landscape holds, rather than being blinded by what the
landscape is, or who controls it.
Transformation 4 Shifts in an architectural lexicon During  I was
fortunate to accompany a group of foreign friends through parts of South Africa. e group con-
sisted of three Dutch bankers, Australian and Malaysian engineers, and a world famous interior
designer. Irrespective of their fascination with the country and its sights, they shared one common
remark. According to them, the most striking aspect of the country was the obsession shared by all
related to security and safety. In fact, one banker remarked: If I had known that there would be
such a high demand for security, I would have personally invested in masonry production plants
and factories which make razor wire products.’
Growing up in an environment protected by a three-metre-high security fence, capped with
razor wire and charged with a   volt electrical current did, even from a child’s perspective,
seem excessive. I still recall the days when most neighbourhood dwellings had a simple chicken
wire fence to demarcate the exact dimensions of the plot. For most urbanites today, safety and
security has become the norm of life, as part of a ‘teenager’ democracy. Across the board, the
impact safety has had on architectural design has been radical. Whether one looks at the design
of a residential dwelling, a building of a larger scale, or even the layout of a neighbourhood, the
question of security remains fundamental.
At the neighbourhood level, we have gradually accepted a specic layout and conguration
related to that of safety. All over the city of Tshwane, either within the inner city or within its
districts, safety is visually and spatially present. Security palisades, barb or razor mesh, infra-red
motion detectors, elaborate security systems and armed guards have slowly become synonymous
with a way of life. Safety is encountered from the moment you step into your car. With car doors
locked, and the entire house under lock and key, you depart from your protected enclave via the
automated garage door, and the automated gate, into the street. Gate, keys and a few armed guards
later, you arrive at another enclave of the protected parking garage. Access to and from the places
of work is protected by a number of doors and gates, with public parking facilities being manned
by hired guards. Re-entering the home requires a reversal of the process, arming your car and
entering the home through gate, garage and steel door. As a family member, it remains impossible
to enter my parental home without having an alarm code, three sets of keys and a remote control
to access the premises.
More noteworthy is that the architectural profession, and more specically its design lexicon,
has absorbed safety or elements related to safety, within its domain. A brief neighbourhood survey
shows the presence of safety as elements within most buildings. We nd palisade gates, front
gates, side-door gates and built-in gates for driveways. In terms of burglar bars we nd, as with
the gates, built-in burglar bars of brick, bars made out of steel, brick and aluminium safety bars,
retractable bars or bar variants specically designed to close o larger open spaces, for example in
the system used in House Steenkamp, located in Waterkloof, Pretoria. As for perimeter walls, the
230 231
Distorted Perspectives; Notes From the (Urban) Edge. Pondering 10 Years of Urban Change for an Urban South Africa
options are just as plentiful. Walls are seen to be made out of brick or concrete,
capped o with electrical wiring, razor wiring, razor mesh wiring, glass fragments
or steel spikes (which itself has countless varieties). Infra-red detectors are placed
as part of the internal ttings (ceilings and wall ttings) or externally placed on
inner corners of walls and solid fences. is excludes ventilation systems, alarm
systems and other safety elements specially designed for architectural purposes.
Transformation 5 Motors of commerce, macro and
micro Ask anyone who has visited South Africa, and they will conrm that
there exists a vast dierence between the ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ commercial
sectors. e city of Tshwane, like any other African city, is a facilitator of both
formal, or regulated, and informal, or unregulated, economies. In a material sense,
the various formal and informal economic activities embody various shapes and
formats suited to their particular needs and purposes.
On the formal side we encounter a variety of businesses either free-standing,
clustered or stacked. Businesses range from the traditional one-man enterprises
to industries in which we nd a labour force a thousand men strong. Apart from
the various business parks and variety of small businesses popping up at various
places in the city, the malls have become synonymous with South African urban
life. e numbers of malls have increased radically during the last  years. Partly
thanks to sprawl, malls have proven to be a story of success. We nd malls catering
for the auent, malls dedicated to the automotive industry, outdoor living, enter-
tainment, commerce, commodities and leisure, wholesale trade and gambling. e
recently completed malls in Soweto and Soshanguve have proven – once more –
that the phenomena of the mall is not an urban unit dedicated exclusively to the
rich and auent. Malls have become part of South Africa’s urban life. Period.
Malls of yesteryear have seen renovation programmes implemented to suit
the desires of the contemporary client. Some malls have become Disneyed, with
interiors washed in paint, plaster and decorations to t a specic theme. Most
striking of all is the heightened awareness that the mall should be seen as the new
container of social life in most of South Africa’s cities. As a commercial unit, the
‘mall’ has – as facilitator of commerce and entertainment – unquestionably
become the quintessential element to which rich or poor, white or black, are drawn.
As history has shown, the failure of an inner urban centre does not result in the
reprogramming of the city or its urban strategies. Solutions are sought in ceding
power to developers, who in turn obtain and allocate land for development at
great distances from the city centres. is further equates as more land, more
real-estate and nally an increase in consumers located at great distances from
the city, drawn towards the ‘mall.’ As a city within a city, the mall contains com-
merce, leisure, medical and entertainment facilities. e phenomenon is further
amplied by the additional functions malls seem to attract. Additional functions
are continuously being added to the same precinct or in close proximity to the
mall. Gradually, one becomes attuned to the addition of new commercial activities, situated either
adjacent or close to an existing mall, inundated with more restaurants, car dealerships and other
specialized commodity stores. Property developers are continuously rezoning domestic plots for
oce use in close proximity to larger commercial centres, making the business parks one of the
most lucrative planning tools available. Menlyn Park, situated in the eastern suburbs of Pretoria,
is one of Tshwane’s older and still larger malls. It represents a point of origin, an anchor, for later
commercial developments such as Atterbury Retail Park, Atterbury Oce Park, Atterbury Car
Centre and Atterbury ValueMart. Brooklyn Mall, located closer to the city but smaller in scale,
has expanded to become a similar commercial cluster. At present it includes Brooklyn Design
Square and Brooklyn Mews. In Brooklyn Mall’s case it seems to be a prime location for a variety
of oces and corporate headquarters, slowly transforming old residences into newly refurbished
In essence, it remains not so much an aspect of establishing a peripheral – high end – economy,
materialized as an up market shopping centre, but rather the amplication of a conceptual notion
whereby the ‘mall’ is perceived as the winning formula within the sprawling problematique. Suburbs
such as Garsfontein, Wapadrand, Equestria, Boardwalk and Olympus have seen the construction
of at least one new mall per year. Lynnwood Road, connecting the centre of the city with the east-
ern suburbs, has seen the construction of at least four malls along its trajectory within a -year
period. Further aeld, adjacent to the N highway connecting Tshwane with Johannesburg, the
tendency materializes itself in an extensive business park with a number of wholesale facilities.
At the extreme opposite end of the scale we nd the informal mode of production. Tshwane’s
 has gradually become a place with a strong informal – more uid – economic presence. e
availability of hawkers and traders walking and selling within the streets or at road intersections,
are a daily sight. Makeshift kitchens selling lunch to pedestrians are widely accepted. Places so
symbolic of the apartheid era have within Pretoria’s  been reclaimed for the informal economy,
transforming it from a state owned, formal and quite stale space into a place for the marginal and
the informal. As a primary school pupil I was a frequent visitor to the . Accompanying my
mother on occasions we explored a number of places. In time I was fortunate to be able to walk at
will within the city centre, making detours through a number of arcades. I recall Church Street
lled with cars and buses as pedestrians lled the city’s sidewalks. Strydom Square, adjacent to the
State eatre, still had its ominous white dome and statue overlooking the unused and open square.
Five minutes further aeld Pretoria’s old Municipal buildings towered with pride above the city.
Today the spaces of the Tshwane  are alive with a dierent energy. All available spaces have
become places of commerce, lled with stalls, traders and small business entrepreneurs. Street
vistas are lled with scenes of mielies (corn on the cob) being roasted adjacent to places of import-
ance. Travellers across the region can engage and negotiate with a number of ‘curbside’ economies
232 233
Distorted Perspectives; Notes From the (Urban) Edge. Pondering 10 Years of Urban Change for an Urban South Africa
10 Last accessed 2 May 2010.
11 See also Boyer’s discussion on the City of Collective Memory as referential to the manner in
which memory is made, identity constructed and agency established. Boyer, M. C., The City of
Collective Memory: Its Historical Imagery and Architectural Entertainments (Cambridge:
MIT Press, 1994).
and products vendors. You may either trade from the street, from your car or as
you pass by the number of crafts or electronic equipment vendors. Observing the
surroundings, it further struck me how present and dominant the informal econ-
omies have become in the centre. Commercial spaces facing the informal market
on Strydom Square are mostly vacant with shops empty and displays windows
bare with ‘to let’ signs posted across a number of them.
e formal and informal economies remain separate entities. Only in specic
instances does one notice their convergence and overlap in one place. Vendors
have become rather strategic in where they choose to advertise their goods. A
parking garage exit on a Saturday afternoon or large venues attracting masses of
people are prime locations for exposure. e possibility and potential of merging
formal with that of the informal remains a larger and extensive question, yet
unresolved within either the urban programme or within an architectural
em bodiment. erefore, one would have to question how to formalize the informal
when it remains so dependent on the uid dynamics of the city. In specic cases
where the provisions have been set in place for such a merger between the formal
and informal, the results have been, for various reasons, ineective. Generally, a
lack of street level information remains one of the largest obstacles to breach
when ‘outsiders’ attempt to intervene in the informal through its architectural
embodiment. And yet, contained within the larger scope of a formal-informal
problematique, there are the allowances made by the street and the freedom it
provides where black traders stand side by side with white beggars.
Transformation 6 Identity shifts. Places, names and
identity: asymmetrical development at a cultural
level According to an internet dictionary, identity is dened as ‘the state or
fact of remaining the same one or ones, as under varying aspects or conditions’.
Furthermore it states that places receive identity by manner of memory, language
and use. e denition provided demarcates a foundation along which places
become known through experience, use or how they are spoken about in the native
tongues. It provided a denition through which it is understood that places are
given values within a collective memory by manner of human actions.
Specic places in Pretoria held such a sense of personal identity. South African
was already fully emerged in the transformation process in . I have always
known Pretoria well, its roads, its venues, new buildings or where to look in order
to discover the new. I was accustomed to its languages spoken, and could easily
navigate the city’s customs and its protocols.
Return visits conrmed that Pretoria, like many other cities in the country,
was a city in transformation. Each visit demonstrated that the city was grappling
with a number of identity issues. Some issues seemed more radical than others.
First of all, its names were brought into question. ereafter a number of streets
and avenues were altered in name. It was a phenomenon that reached deep into
the country, aecting the nature of places in its farthest corners. One of the most prominent
changes was experienced when an issued airline ticket stated its nal destination as Oliver Tambo
International Airport. It was a place, a name and a destination unrecognizable to those from abroad.
Other changes brought about aected the names of streets, buildings, squares and venues. Signage
and landmarks made the alterations across the country an ‘ocial’ reality. Previously known as Hans
Strydom, the larger road within Pretoria’s inner precincts was renamed Nelson Mandela Drive.
Johannesburg has proudly opted for a Nelson Mandela Square and a Nelson Mandela Bridge.
Although the city of Pretoria itself has as yet to be ocially renamed Tshwane, the larger
metro politan context ocially carries the name in stature. Elsewhere, this city-renaming remains
an ongoing process. Johannesburg’s International Airport has mutated from Jan Smuts Inter-
national Airport () to Johannesburg International () and once more to Oliver Tambo
International Airport (). Cities names have changed from Pietersburg to Polokwane (),
Ellisras has changed to Lephalale (), Potchefstroom is designated to change to Tlokwe and
Dendron, a small farming community in the north of the country, has been renamed Mogwadi.
Provincial names were changed from Transvaal and Eastern Transvaal to Gauteng () and
Mpumalanga () respectively.
One is fully aware of the sensitivity of identity, ownership and legacy. However one would
have to question the extent of these matters for all parties concerned. It is possible to argue that
name alterations may not technically transform the character of places or alter their physical
appearance. On the contrary. However, name alterations reinforce conceptual and referential
changes within the minds of the people who use or move within the various landscapes and as
a result directly impacts ownership and legacy. What does it mean to eradicate historical names,
how are names chosen and what does it mean for the culture whose historical places and names
are lost? And, if names are altered for the good of the people, what would be the accepted number
of times that identity can be given or taken away?
At present I am still faced with asking the embarrassing question of ‘which city’, ‘what streets’
or ‘which square’ whenever friends and family navigate a specic route. In December  the
mayor of the Greater City of Tshwane announced that the name of Pretoria will forever disappear
from the history books. is change will coincide with the alteration of  other street names in
the city. It has made my longing for building on a renewed South Africa even greater.A stranger
in a familiar place’, you might say. A question to which I would reply: ‘A South African, navigating
with a personal history through native and unfamiliar soil’.
Transformation 7 (Infrastructure)n Roads, highways and more byways. Travelling
on the South African roads has never been a problem. More importantly, roads have always been
an integral part of the South African transportation landscape. As part of an apartheid legacy the
234 235
Distorted Perspectives; Notes From the (Urban) Edge. Pondering 10 Years of Urban Change for an Urban South Africa
12 Last accessed 27 April 2010.
13 Last accessed 15 May 2010.
14 Marc Augé, Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity,
trans. John Howe (London: Verso, 1995).
emphasis has always been on roads and cars as the main means of transportation,
with railways and other means of public transport limited to certain regions and
cities. With a growing demand for new settlements, and with the expansion of
existing suburbs, the necessity for the betterment of roads has remained at the
top of the urban agenda.
In  and  the entire country experienced a nationwide road improve-
ment project in progress. Arriving at Oliver Tambo International Airport and
driving towards Tshwane, it was possible to observe the extent of works under-
taken. Along routes, and apart from a visual confrontation with the numerous
 World Cup Campaign signs, drivers are faced with the daunting task of
negotiating stretches of road in the process of being resurfaced and expanded and
having new safety measures added and digital signage tested and installed. At
certain points, along other major highways, the construction of new bridges,
yovers and o- and on-ramps materializes as part of the new urban landscape.
Centurion – a southern suburb of Tshwane – has had its suburban context and
form changed due to the road alteration works. e newly implemented Gautrain
railway project, which is intended to establish rail connectivity between important
urban hubs and the airport, has required the construction of additional bridges
and highway yovers as the railway connection bisects a vast portion of veld
before directly intersecting the commercial centre of the suburb. Most of Cen-
turion’s freeway access points were aected for months by the continual work as
bridges were lifted into place or due to the construction of one of the many
support pylons for bridge yovers.
In addition to the Gautrain project, the   World Cup has, as already
discussed earlier in this text, forced governance and planning authorities to
reinvest money for the betterment of the public transportation system. Revised
strategies have implemented the ‘Bus Rapid Transit system ()’ in urban
areas. Hailed by many as a step in the right direction, it remains a system limited
to specic parts of cities.
Worthy of note is the manner in which society has adapted to the use of infra-
structure and the spaces surrounding it. A perceptive motorist will easily identify
the various points as places forming part of the continuously changing public
domain. What may look like a conventional yover, an o-ramp or a bridge may
easily become a place of trade, a centre for traditional medicine, an informal shop
front, a place to operate as a make-shift home, a place of ‘pleasure’ and prostitution,
a place of mass storage or as a place of interchange where a variety of travellers
converge and change transportation modes. It presents urbanist and designers
with a new task, namely questioning the role of infrastructure, not by accepting
infrastructure as a non-place in the Augéian sense, or as a means from point
A to Point B, but as a collection of places as part of a ‘living’ and process-based
landscape. Places with their own identity, in their own right and with an in -
dependent ‘right of way’.
Transformation 8 Municipal rules vs local logics In December , the
Tshwane Metropolitan Council was faced with the possibility of bankruptcy. Local radio services
continuously spoke of the lack of general services overshadowed by the fear of an empty city treas-
ury and the looming possibility of a number of tax increases. Across the city, refuse and garbage
littered the streets as municipal workers went without salaries. is situation led to city residents
taking action into their own hands. After more than a week, local communities were forced to
actively remove garbage themselves in order to maintain manageable levels of household waste.
e event marked a moment of heightened awareness, as residents once more saw the disparity
between top-down policies – from the municipal level – and local ‘street level’ initiatives. Across
the city of Pretoria, it is possible to detect a number of local acts that can be seen as moments of
discrepancy between stated policies and the needs expressed by the populace. Across the city,
inhabitants are seen to reside or construct shelters in places marked for uses other than domestic
use; there is street trading operating in restricted zones and in buildings marked as national
monuments; or a -year-old building is demolished without permission for the sake of recon-
structing a new structure for commercial use.
One specic example is that of the Belle Ombre station, situated north-west of Pretoria. As
an interchange node it forms an important point of connectivity for the district of Soshanguve.
Soshanguve is, in apartheid terms, a township  kilometres north of the Pretoria . It is known
for its ethnic diversity, as the four main languages spoken are Sotho, Shangaan, Nguni and Venda.
Its inhabitants are still mostly black. Bell Ombre Station funnels a number of commuters from
Soshanguve, through towards the larger Tshwane region. In  the station witnessed the com-
pletion of an extensive, and overshadowing, commercial centre called Batho Plaza. Despite the
presence of Batho Plaza, informal trading remains a reality as it provides the ideal opportunity
for trade between the various ‘Spaza shops’ and those who use the stations on a daily basis.
By denition, the presence of the Spaza shops stands in deance of municipal planning regu-
lations. At rst it would have to be stated that the ‘Spaza’ commercial entity provides additional
means of income to numerous township families. It is, so to speak, a commercial motor ‘driven
by the residents, for the residents’. Structurally, the shops are found facing the street leading up
towards the station. ey form, in planning terminology, a linear commercial structure of an
informal nature. Matters are simplied as certain shops directly latch onto existing dwellings,
providing a shop front to passers-by.
Recently the shops have come under erce pressure from the municipal powers. As most of
the Soshanguve area is zoned as a Residential  category, this makes trading as a commercial entity
illegal within this zone. Municipal authorities are now in the process of forcing proprietors to
convert the Residential  classication to a ‘Business  category’. Moreover, municipal regulations
clearly stipulate that any commercial business has to provide a minimum level of services. One
236 237
Distorted Perspectives; Notes From the (Urban) Edge. Pondering 10 Years of Urban Change for an Urban South Africa
15 Ora Joubert (ed.), 10 Years + 100 Buildings: Architecture in a Democratic South
Africa (Cape Town: Bell Roberts Publishing, 2009), p. 8.
such required provision is the availability of six parking bays per commercial unit.
For an informal trader depending on pedestrian contact, the requirement of six
parking bays remains an unlikely addition.
Town and regional planners, employed by a number of shop owners, have
recognized the spatial importance of the Spaza shops in relation to ground pro-
cesses. ey have, since the start, argued for a relaxation of municipal regulations,
motivated by the types of commerce, the inhabitants and the nature of the trade
occurring. In response, local municipal authorities have shown an unwillingness
to make the necessary allowances. Tshwane’s Planning Department remains
adamant in adhering to a rulebook, without accepting the ground conditions of
those who use the spaces and the city.
First of all, such unwillingness simply echoes a spatial illiteracy on the part of
the authorities and of those who use it. Secondly it conrms a specic mindset,
accepting certain strategies as the one and only set of rules without taking into
account the possibility of alternative and viable options as required by the people.
Although similar and recurring issues such as these will constantly challenge
urban planning in South Africa, we would have to critically question the point at
which rules are meant to guide social processes or dictate how inhabitants survive
the ‘African concrete jungle’.
Transformation 9 Seepage of the economic motor
A sweeping phenomenon is gradually altering the character of a number of Pre-
toria residential neighbourhoods. e phenomenon is not hard to spot. Driving
along any main route within the eastern suburb and precinct will show the pres-
ence of commercial activities, tightly woven into the neighbourhood structures.
It is a phenomenon whereby residences are transformed into structures and
places of business. e eects vary from street to street. In some streets the pres-
ence of one transformed house is noted. Along other streets, the eects are more
sweeping, with a cluster of houses, as many as three or four, forming an enclave
of business. Freestanding family dwellings become places of business for lawyers,
other legal practices, art dealers, dentists, cosmetic centres, beauty centres and
practices related to engineering or architecture.
A number of Pretoria neighbourhoods – for example Brooklyn – have felt
the impact of commerce on their doorsteps. Newly claimed places of business
are found deep within this well established and historical neighbourhood. Old
houses located adjacent to Brooklyn Mall have been rezoned, transforming
residential property into a zone specically dedicated to business activities.
Newly claimed properties of business are remodelled, painted and fenced in. e
exteriors install a sense of high-level security, with the plot perimeter fenced in
and providing some form of secured parking. ‘Neighbourhood oces’ have direct
access to the street without having to share responsibilities of communal facilities
such as entrances, hallways or parking. Signage and branding further betray the
presence of business amongst lush green trees and well established gardens. Embassies and foreign
consulates have followed suit with the presence of the Dutch, Austrian, Middle Eastern and cer-
tain African consulates within the neighbourhood. Guesthouses have become an additional factor
in the overall structure of the neighbourhoods, as larger family residences are gradually converted
to act as tourist accommodation.
In Garsfontein, a suburb further east of Tshwane’s , the commercial insurgence is more
radical. Commercial transformation of Brooklyn is based on the individual alterations of resi-
dences, one by one, leaving most of the neighbourhood intact. In Garsfontein, the commercial
infestation aects the level of the street where a number of businesses locate and cluster alongside
each other, in close proximity to main thoroughfares. Although the business structures have to be
kept within certain building limits, the impact is felt in the character of the street itself. A greater
number of cars can be spotted outside the various businesses, or a greater number of people ow-
ing in and out of the various establishments.
e presence of commerce so deeply rooted in neighbourhoods marks a turning point in the
conditions which facilitate sprawl within the South African context. It furthermore raises an
awareness of the street, the neighbourhood and residential districts as part of the public domain.
Inner urban areas such as the city’s  remain places of contact where the pavement is an im -
portant component for commerce as well as for city life. Removing the pavement and allowing
cars ‘direct’ access to commercial establishments once more pushes an agenda of isolation and
separation. Furthermore, as can be seen in the reproduced images, an additional aect is perceivable
as commercial clustering in neighbourhoods eectively marks the street as a no-man’s-land. As
the archetypal element in cities, the street should be that place where all are free to move, mingle
and engage with each other. e neighbourhood street has lost its place in public life, left to the
poor as the masses congregate within the sanctuary of the mall or other enclaves of safety.
Transformations 10 (Themed) heterotopic enclaves – security villages
Transformation number  dwells on the collective eect of security within sections of the South
African City. In Ora Joubert’s opening statement in 10 Years + 100 Buildings, she postulates a premise
that South Africa’s current urban condition is in a state of disrepute. Joubert’s opening lines deplore
the state of South Africa’s urban landscape through its characteristics of ‘user-unfriendly city
centres, neglected civic spaces, inadequate social housing and inappropriate, stylistically-driven
commercial and residential developments’.
A series of images not only confronts us with the stylistically driven development in the eastern
suburbs of Pretoria but additionally conrms an embodiment of safety enclaves as part of the urban
landscape. Whereas some previously discussed transformations have elaborated on the inuence
of building elements as aspects of safety as part of architecture, this transformation, and in partic-
238 239
Distorted Perspectives; Notes From the (Urban) Edge. Pondering 10 Years of Urban Change for an Urban South Africa
ular the ‘security village’, focuses on the collective aect as portrayed in specic
Safety has taken a collective and social eect. It has for the greater part ma -
terialized in city structure, in its morphological layout and in its architectural
embodiment. It has further merged with the scale of the building through its
elements, its design and composition. Finally, safety has become a socially driven
instrument, as it is collectively absorbed within the manner in which larger
sections of the landscape are constructed.
At the scale between that of the city and its architecture we encounter the
security villages. Security villages are dened as a collection of residences bound
together by the aspect of safety, expressed in a perimeter structure or architectural
style. Over and above their gradual introduction to city structure, such villages
have become the norm rather than the exception.
As ‘safe havens’, the villages are spatially prescriptive. ey are rst and fore-
most spatially and socially ‘removed’ from the city. e complexes’ spatial cong-
urations are based on single, controlled and monitored access points. A high level
security wall, monitored by people, surveillance equipment or both, surrounds the
entire complex. Internal circulation is well dened with roads linking one house
to the next. e focus remains on access to and from the gate. Some larger villages
are centred on extensive golf courses. In most cases the villages are stylistically
bound by predetermined architectural norms and rules.
In cases where the residential houses and urban layout were pre-existing, the
security village takes on an even more extreme format. Residents themselves take
safety into their own hands, caucusing amongst themselves to form cooperative
bodies to implement security for an entire neighbourhood. It nds material
embodiment as neighbourhoods, or sections thereof, are redened and walled in,
with entrances announced by manned gates with elaborate signage warning o
unwanted visitors. Here one can think of Wapadrand, a well-established high-
income neighbourhood of Pretoria, and its model as security enclave generated
from within the neighbourhood itself. Similar self-governing enclaves of safety
have emerged in the cities of Johannesburg, Polokwane, Durban, Cape Town,
Bloemfontein and East-London. Inner city areas – which consist mostly of
multi-storey apartment blocks – have undergone similar security transformations.
Building perimeters, previously open to the pavements and streets of the city,
have been fenced o. Once more, access is resident controlled, made possible
by the various surveillance and control mechanisms. Photographic surveying
conrms the radical transformation of inner city areas and the various factors
installed to maintain minimum standards of safety in cities.
e creation of the village or similar enclaves of safety is further echoed at
street level. Street characteristics have in the last  years altered signicantly.
Establishment of the heterotopic enclave has in fact removed neighbourhood life
from the street. It has meant an entirely new denition of the public domain, in
which the street has become somehow alien to those who reside adjacent to them. Similar to the
medieval notion of interiority and exteriority of the city wall, so too has the street progressed to a
place of ‘wilderness’. It has become an urban element lled with uncertainties. Motivated by fear
of being burgled or overpowered, very few inhabitants dare to walk on streets that are not part of
the security enclave. e pedestrian pavements and curbs are left to chance, with little to no atten-
tion given to the detail of the pavement itself. Interiority of urban life has shifted from the street
to the various sorts of enclaves, either in residential format, or within the business parks, shopping
malls or other protected spaces within the city. Ironically, safety village models prove to be a stark
reminder of the model once used in the construction of the native townships, with its controlled
access points, dened internal circulation and inward character. What was initially conceived to
keep an ethnic group contained within a precinct, as part of the ideological thinking, has eec-
tively become a model for keeping residents safe and unwanted guests out.
Echoing the plea made in other transformations in favour of the street, so too would this
transformative type echo its importance to the South African city. What was initially conceived
as the highpoint of public life has in fact become a space to a practical means. Removal of vital
processes from the street will for future generations have a lasting legacy on South African cities.
And, if enclaves of security remain the essential place in the public domain, then we would have
to question the values inicted on a society. A society forced to congregate in places of monetary
exchange, commercial enclaves, and not necessarily in places of high and cultural public life. For
in neglecting the street we are essentially redening the core of all urban and social life!
Post Script In the news of  December , the  pm E-television news reported the
following. With a headline that read ‘Fear of Whites Living in Township Unfounded’, it was
reported that the rst whites had moved into the township of Kagiso, situated on the East Rand,
East of Johannesburg. Originally, the poor white family feared retribution from the mainly black
Kagiso population. What resulted was an acceptance from the local residents, welcoming the
white family to the neighbourhood. e main ‘icebreaker’ in the community was reported to be
personal circumstances, based on the fact that the new white resident, her family, and the local
black residents had experienced the loss of their spouses. It was a report that highlighted the
power of human circumstances over and above the question of white, black or social status within
the community.
Acknowledgements I would like to express my deepest appreciation to Ms Linzelle Terblanche,
a town and regional planner in the Greater Metropolitan Region of Tshwane and Johannesburg.
Her insightful and productive discussions helped steer the observations and the descriptions used
in this essay and helped pinpoint the specic issues at play in Pretoria and its urban landscape.
Also many thanks to Patrick Healy for his most valuable input and comments during the writing
of this text.
0 Departure. Source: G. Bruyns, 2012.
1 Transformative type 1: Americanization.
Source: G. Bruyns, 2012.
2 Transformative type 2: Social disparity,
claiming urban space. Source: G. Bruyns,
3 Transformative type 3: Morphing types.
Source: G. Bruyns, 2012.
4 Transformative type 4: Architectural lexicon.
Source: G. Bruyns, 2012.
5 Transformative type 5: Micro and macro
motors of commerce. Source: G. Bruyns,
6 Transformative type 6: Identity shifts.
Source: G. Bruyns, 2012.
7 Transformative type 7: (Infrastructure)3.
Source: G. Bruyns, 2012.
8 Transformative type 8: Municipal versus
local logics. Source: G. Bruyns, 2012.
9 Transformative type 9: Seepage of the
economic motors. Source: G. Bruyns, 2012.
10 Transformative type 10: Heterotopic
enclaves. Source: G. Bruyns, 2012.
M. Christine Boyer M. Christine Boyer is the William R. Kenan Jr.
Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the School of Architecture,
Princeton University. She is the author of Le Corbusier, Homme de
Lettres (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010), CyberCities: Visual
Perception in the Age of Electronic Communication (Princeton
Architectural Press, 1996), The City of Collective Memory: Its
Historical Imagery and Architectural Entertainments (MIT Press,
1994), Dreaming the Rational City: The Myth of American
City Planning (MIT Press, 1986) and Manhattan Manners:
Architecture and Style, 1850-1890 (Rizzoli, 1985). In addition
she has written many articles and lectured widely on the topic of
urbanism in the 19th and 20th centuries. She is currently writing a
book tentatively titled Fashionable Modernism: The Writings of
Alison and Peter Smithson as well as a book on Habitats for the
Greatest Number and Cold War Politics.
M. Christine Boyer received her Ph.D. and Masters in City Planning
from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also holds a Masters
of Science in Computer and Information Science from the University
of Pennsylvania, The Moore School of Electrical Engineering.
Gerhard Bruyns Gerhard Bruyns is a faculty member of the Delft
School of Design (DSD), Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of
Technology. He received his Bachelor in Architecture (Cum Laude)
in 1998 from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, with his
Masters Degree (Cum Laude) being awarded in 2002 by the TU
Delft. In 2011 he defended his PhD thesis entitled Urban Dis-
positif: An Atlas of Spatial Mechanisms and the Contempo-
rary Urban Landscape.
He has lectured at a number of universities, as well as participated in
design juries of Architecture Faculties in South Africa, Hong Kong,
Germany, Greece, the United States and Chile. Since 2010 he has
been a visiting professor at the Dessau Institute of Architecture in
Germany. In 2007 he curated, under the chairmanship of professors
A.D. Graafland and I.B. Low, the Urban Development Stall at African
Perspectives Africaines, the three-day event enshrined in the con-
tents of this publication. In 2006 he co-edited a volume of the DSD
series on Architecture and Urbanism entitled De-/ signing the Urban:
Technogenesis and the urban image (010 Publishers). His built
work in South Africa ranges from commercial to residential projects.
Arie Graafland Arie Graafland was professor in Architecture
Theory at the Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft until 2012. Currently
he is a visiting DAAD professor at the Dessau Institute of Architec-
ture in Germany. After a three-year technical education in Rotterdam,
he studied sociology (VU) and philosophy (UvA) in Amsterdam. He
worked for several years in urban research for the city of Arnhem. In
1978 he began his academic work in the department of Urbanism
at the TU and in 1986 he received a PhD in architectural theory. In
1992 he became Associate Professor in the department of Architec-
ture Theory where he continued to carry out research and education
in both Architecture and Urban Theory. He has lectured internation-
ally and published extensively in these areas. Dr. Graafland was
awarded the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Chair in 1999 and founded
the DSD in 2002. He is the editor of The Delft School of Design
Series on Architecture and Urbanism with 010 Publishers. He
currently is the DAAD professor at Anhalt University (BRD). Together
with Harry Kerssen he is principal of Kerssen Graafland Architects in
Amsterdam. He lives in Amsterdam.
Patrick Heller Patrick Heller is a professor of sociology and
international studies at Brown University. His main area of research is
the comparative study of democratic deepening. He is the author of
The Labor of Development: Workers in the Transformation of
Capitalism in Kerala, India (Cornell University Press, 1999) and
co-author of Social Democracy and the Global Periphery (Cam-
bridge University Press, 2006). He has published articles in Politics
and Society, World Politics, World Development, Theory and
Society, Social Forces, Journal of African and Asian Studies,
International Journal of Urban and Regional Studies and Jour-
nal of Development Studies. His most recent book – Bootstrap-
ping Democracy (Stanford University Press) with Gianpaolo
Baiocchi and Marcelo Silva – explores politics and institutional
reform in Brazilian municipalities.
Ena Jansen Ena Jansen is South African-born and bred. After
completing an MA at Stellenbosch University she came to the Neth-
erlands and studied and lived in Utrecht (obtaining another MA) and
Amsterdam for ten years before returning to South Africa to teach at
the University of the Witwatersrand for sixteen years. She fell in love
with Johannesburg, but the love of her life caused her to return to
Amsterdam where she has been living again since 2001. Since
recently buying an apartment in Cape Town her life story has become
a tale of three cities. She teaches Dutch literature at the Free Univer-
sity and is Professor of South African literature at the University of
Amsterdam. She is also a research fellow of the University of Johan-
nesburg. In Amsterdam she offers courses in city novels (on Amster-
dam for a Dutch MA and on Cape Town and Johannesburg for her
South African course). Her publications include Afstand en verbin-
tenis. Elisabeth Eybers in Amsterdam (1996 and 1998 – in
Afrikaans and Dutch editions), as well as books and articles on the
Boer War, migrant literature and the representation of families in liter-
ature. Her inaugural lecture on constructions of Jan van Riebeeck’s
interpreter Eva/Krotoa is available on the internet as
document/11001. She is currently working on a book on the role of
domestic workers in South African city novels. Her (not-up-to-date)
personal website is to be found at
Johan Lagae Johan Lagae graduated as an engineer-architect at
the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Ghent Univer-
sity (1991) where he is currently teaching Architectural History of
the 20th Century with a particular focus on the non-European con-
text. He holds a PhD in 20th-century colonial architecture in the
former Belgian Congo (2002). His current research focuses on
transnational networks of building and planning expertise in post-war
Africa, Central African urban history and the issue of heritage in
post-colonial Africa. He has published widely in international journals,
such as the Journal of Architecture and Third Text, as well as
edited volumes, and has contributed to a number of exhibitions on the
Congo. He furthermore authored a catalogue d’oeuvre on the work
of architect Claude Laurens and co-edited visual urban histories of
the Congolese cities of Boma (2005) and Kinshasa (2010). He was
a member of the editorial board of OASE from 2003 until 2010,
and is currently vice-chair of a European research network entitled
‘European architecture beyond Europe’.
Contributors’ Biographies
Bongani Ngqulunga Bongani Ngqulunga works in the office of
the President of South Africa. He has a PhD (2009) in sociology
from Brown University. His dissertation – Elusive Equity: Democ-
racy and the Politics of Social Reform in South Africa After
Apartheid – explores the challenges of promoting equity in a highly
inegalitarian society.
Hannah le Roux Hannah le Roux works in Johannesburg at the
University of the Witwatersrand, and practices, curates and writes
about architecture. She is a candidate PhD at IvOK, Belgium (Insti-
tute for Practice Based Research in the Arts). Her thesis, lived mod-
ernism, is based on the observation of change in time of modernist
spaces, and proposes and maps designerly practices that catalyse
the social appropriation of space. The sites of research and practice
include KwaThema, Johannesburg’s inner city, West Africa and
immigrant spaces in Europe.
Lesley Lokko Lesley Naa Norle Lokko is an architect, academic
and novelist. She grew up in Ghana, West Africa and the UK. She
completed her architectural training at The Bartlett School of Archi-
tecture, UCL and holds a PhD in Architecture from the University of
London. She has taught in the UK, the USA and South Africa and is
currently Visiting Professor of Architecture at Westminster University.
She has lectured and published widely on the subject of race, cultural
identity and their relationship to architecture and is the editor of
White Papers, Black Marks: Race, Culture, Architecture (Uni-
versity of Minnesota Press, 2000). She is the principal of her own
design firm, Lokko Associates in Accra, Ghana, with several com-
pleted residential projects in Accra and Akosombo, Ghana. She is
also the author of seven best-selling novels, the latest of which, An
Absolute Deception, is out in June 2012. She currently divides
her time between Johannesburg, Edinburgh and London.
Iain Low Iain Low is professor at the University of Cape Town
where he convenes postgraduate programmes in architecture. He
was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Pennsylvania and visiting
scholar at the American Academy in Rome. As a practitioner he was
Project Architect for the World Bank/GoL where he researched and
designed schools for the Training for Self Reliance Project through-
out Lesotho, and has designed an award-winning reinstallation of
Iziko SA Museum’s San Rock Art in Cape Town. Currently his
research area is ‘space and transformation’ and the spatialization in
the contemporary (post-apartheid) city. He is published in a number
of local and international journals and is editor of the Digest of
South African Architecture and the Digest of African Architec-
Edgar Pieterse Edgar Pieterse is holder of the DST/NRF South
African Research Chair in Urban Policy. He directs the African Centre
for Cities and is Professor in the School of Architecture, Planning
and Geomatics, both at the University of Cape Town. Recent books
include African Cities Reader II: Mobilities & Fixtures (2011),
Counter-Currents: Experiments in Sustainability in the
Cape Town Region (2010), African Cities Reader: Pan-African
Practices (2010) and City Futures: Confronting the Crisis of
Urban Development (Zed Books, 2008). He was co-editor of a
special issue on African urbanism in the journal Social Dynamics,
vol. 38(1), 2011.
AbdouMaliq Simone AbdouMaliq Simone is an urbanist with a
particular interest in emerging forms of social and economic inter-
section across diverse trajectories of change for cities in the Global
South. Simone is presently Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths
College, University of London and Visiting Professor of Urban Stud-
ies at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town. Key
publications include In Whose Image: Political Islam and Urban
Practices in Sudan (University of Chicago Press, 1994), For the
City Yet to Come: Urban Change in Four African Cities (Duke
University Press, 2004) and City Life from Jakarta to Dakar:
Movements at the Crossroads, (Routledge, 2009).
Alta Steenkamp Alta Steenkamp is Associate Professor in and
Director of the School of Architecture, Planning & Geomatics at the
University of Cape Town, South Africa. She completed a Bachelor in
Architecture at the School of Architecture, University of Pretoria, in
1991 and in 1994 became a permanent lecturer at this School. In
1998 she obtained the qualification of Master of Architecture (cum
laude) with a thesis titled A pattern of Boer settlement at the
Cape Eastern Frontier, 1769-1779. Her teaching and research
focuses on the history of southern Africa’s built environment and its
relationship to a broader architectural discourse. In 2004 she joined
the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics at the University
of Cape Town. Here she set about developing a research focus area
that would critically address spatial practices from South Africa’s
segregated past. She seeks through an interrogation of past social
and spatial practices, to provide a history of space and power to raise
consciousness among students who never experienced apartheid but
who, in design, deal with the consequences of an unequal past. In
2008 she completed a Doctorate titled Space, power and the
body – the civil and uncivil as represented in the Voortrekker
Monument and the Native Township Model at the TU Delft. She
is currently working on a critical history of the Voortrekker Monument.
Delft School of Design Series on Architecture and Urbanism
Series Editor Arie Graafland
Editorial Board
K. Michael Hays (Harvard University, USA)
Ákos Moravánszky (ETH Zürich, Switzerland)
Michael Müller (Bremen University, Germany)
Frank R. Werner (University of Wuppertal, Germany)
Gerd Zimmermann (Bauhaus University, Germany)
Also published in this series:
1 Crossover. Architecture Urbanism Technology
ISBN 978 90 6450 609 3
2 The Body in Architecture
ISBN 978 90 6450 568 3
3 De-/signing the Urban. Technogenesis and the Urban Image
ISBN 978 90 6450 611 6
4 The Model and its Architecture
ISBN 978 90 6450 684 0
5 Urban Asymmetries. Studies and Projects on Neoliberal Urbanization
ISBN 978 90 6450 724 3
6 Cognitive Architecture. From Biopolitics to Noopolitics
ISBN 978 90 6450 725 0
7 African Perspectives – [South] Africa. City, Society, Space, Literature and Architecture
Editors Gerhard Bruyns and Arie Graafland
Participants and Institutions
M. Christine Boyer, Princeton University
Gerhard Bruyns, Delft University of Technology / Anhalt University (DIA)
Arie Graafland, Delft University of Technology / Anhalt University (DIA)
Patrick Heller, Brown University
Ena Jansen, University of Amsterdam / University of Johannesburg
Johan Lagae, Ghent University
Bongani Ngqulunga, Office of the President of South Africa
Hannah le Roux, University of the Witwatersrand
Lesley Lokko, Westminster University
Iain Low, University of Cape Town
Edgar Pieterse, African Centre for Cities / University of Cape Town
AbdouMaliq Simone, Goldsmiths College, University of London / African Centre for Cities / University of Cape Town
Alta Steenkamp, University of Cape Town
Proof reading Patrick Healy
Assistant Jasper Schaap
Text editing John Kirkpatrick
Book design by Piet Gerards Ontwerpers
(Piet Gerards and Maud van Rossum), Amsterdam
Printed by DeckersSnoeck, Antwerp
On the cover: Photos by Gerhard Bruyns and Liliane Smith, composed by Gerhard Bruyns
©2012 The authors / 010 Publishers, Rotterdam
ISBN 978 90 6450 797 7
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Pondering 10 Years of Urban Change for an
Distorted Perspectives; Notes From the (Urban) Edge. Pondering 10 Years of Urban Change for an Urban South Africa 12 Last accessed 27 April 2010. 13 Last accessed 15 May 2010.
Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the School of Architecture, Princeton University. She is the author of Le Corbusier
  • Christine Boyer
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M. Christine Boyer M. Christine Boyer is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the School of Architecture, Princeton University. She is the author of Le Corbusier, Homme de Lettres (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010), CyberCities: Visual Perception in the Age of Electronic Communication (Princeton Architectural Press, 1996), The City of Collective Memory: Its Historical Imagery and Architectural Entertainments (MIT Press, 1994), Dreaming the Rational City: The Myth of American City Planning (MIT Press, 1986) and Manhattan Manners: