Spatial change in the GCR
Gauteng confronts mounting concern that spatial trends may be compounding the effects of apartheid, the possibility that its population may double by 2055, and the very real prospect of future economic and environmental risks and shocks. There is an urgent need to understand whether its spatial form, fabric and function are resilient enough to cope with change. A start is to understand the rapid spatial changes that are already occurring, for example in terms of population growth and changing land use. This project links in with Professor Philip Harrison’s NRF chair research to map and model spatial change in Gauteng cities. A series of three edited volumes on the city-region around Johannesburg is proposed as a partnership between the NRF Chair in Development Planning and Modelling, the Wits School of Architecture and Planning and the GCRO, namely:
- Johannesburg (with some focus on the near-Johannesburg areas that make up what has been historically called the Witwatersrand)
- Pretoria and its hinterland
- The industrial and mining arc, stretching around Johannesburg from the East Rand, south to Vereeniging-Vanderbijlpark-Sasolburg, and west to the mining towns of Carletonville and Westonaria.
The preparation of the first book is currently in progress with the editors being Philip Harrison, Alison Todes, Graeme Gotz and Chris Wray. The book will include contributions from over 30 scholars who are writing on aspects of spatial change in Johannesburg. The book follows the proposed structure outlined below.
First, there is a section which outlines spatial trends at a macro level. It explores: the reconfiguration of space from an economic perspective; the role of state regulation and policy in shaping spatial outcomes; processes of informality within the city; the reconfiguration of natural assets within the city as development continues at a rapid pace; and the changing mobility flows and networks within the city. All of this is placed within the frame of the wider city-region.
The second section grounds this perspective on macro processes in a careful analysis of what is actually happening within specific neighbourhoods within the city. It challenges the easy generalisations of Johannesburg as the wealthy heart of Gauteng, or as a city spatially divided between the wealthy north and the poor south, by showing how complex and diverse the processes of change are.
The third and final section focuses on the people and the communities that inhabit space. It looks at how people and communities come to identify with particular spaces; how space is ascribed meaning; and, how identities are expressed in the transformation of space.
GCRO has also comissioned a paper entitled "Spatial change within the Gauteng City-Region: Land-use/cover mapping; trends and possible impacts" authored by Brian Mubiwa, under the guidance of Professor Harold Annegarn, drawing on Mubiwa’s PhD thesis research on generating land cover change from 1990-2009 satellite imagery.