Photography by:
  • Gareth Pon & Nichola Bosman & Sifiso Mashwama

Publics of the GCR

The Gauteng City-Region has inherited a landscape divided successively by colonial, capitalist, and apartheid policy. Enforcing a ‘development of underdevelopment,’ the GCR’s black majority were moved to the region’s peripheral sprawling townships devoid of economic activity and opportunity. Through the construction of townships and the expansion of suburbs in line with the post-World War II modernist project of suburbanisation, which swept the world at the time, divisions were entrenched and the ‘public city’ severely undermined. Today a GCR of hybrid publics exists, as residents still intent on being public in the city partake in different fora, such as shopping malls, casinos, festivals, active streets, and street parties.

As an overarching research project comprising smaller research undertakings and journal articles, the focus of the project will be on public infrastructure and symbolic acts of spatial appropriation in the inner city.

The research will provide important insight for academics and policy makers into public space design, provision, and utilisation. It will stretch common understandings of the ‘public realm’ and highlight the importance of ‘being public.’ Understanding public actors will also inform research on society, transportation, urban design, architecture, socio-economic integration, and urbanisation in the GCR.


A paper developed under this research theme will be presented by Guy Trangoš at the Association of European Geographical Societies Conference September 2015 in Budapest.


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