Shifting borders and building bridges (GCRO Cities exhibition at Seoul Biennale)

Borders are both material and unseen, constructed and imaginary, fixed and fluid. In recent years we have seen the continued relevance of international borders and how these affect the lives of people in different places. While political borders remain as pertinent as ever, this exhibition examines different kinds of ‘urban borders’ in the context of the Gauteng City-Region (GCR).

Cities in South Africa are infamous for their divided and unequal geographies - the legacy of the colonial and apartheid planning policies. Despite significant efforts to integrate the GCR, apartheid’s visible and invisible borders and barriers remain both in the material landscape and in the socio-economic fabric. Although this history is particular to South Africa, the inequality that the city-region faces is mirrored in many other parts of the world.


This interactive visualisation, prepared for an exhibition at the Seoul Biennale on Architecture and Urbanism, explores the making, shifting and bridging of urban borders through four perspectives: Spatial, Social, Resource and Institutional.

The Spatial story map relays how political borders of provinces and ‘homeland’ states have been abolished with the end of apartheid and the first democratic elections in 1994, but how spatial segregation remains and recurs through other shifts have occurred in the last twenty years.

The Social story map illustrates how even though racist apartheid laws have been repealed, social barriers have re-emerged in the urban landscape in physical forms like gated communities

The Resource story map shows how the broader context of the landscape and natural resources worked as barriers shaping the history of development in the city-region, and how they will also shape its future.

The Institutional story map explores how both government and academia are navigating the spatial, social and resource complexities in the GCR while also encountering institutional and knowledge borders.

Explore each of these story maps by clicking on the image blocks below.

Social story map

Spatial story mapInstitutional story map

Resource story map


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