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Really Restitching The City

In the City of Johannesburg's document outlining their plans for the current Corridors of Freedom project, there is a lot of speak about "restitching the city" and the tag-line for the whole project is "Restitching our city to create a new future." This speaks of a city that is wounded and needs to be restitched back together to function properly. It speaks of considered focus on areas that need intervention, which I 100% agree with.

 

To quote their problem statement from the document outlining the plans for the future: "Apartheid spatial planning has left the City with sprawling low-density areas without viable public transport systems. The majority of working class and poor citizens are still living on the fringes of the City and have to commute over long distances to access work and economic opportunities."

The way they plan on doing this is, by "restitching" the wounds by doing the following:

- Upgrading the infrastructure between Soweto and the CBD, Alexandra and the CBD and Alexandra and Sandton. They also plan on upgrading the Turfontein area as well as areas along the mining belt.

This was their goal for 2016 - it is now 2016... So there are some slight delays apparently.

Reaching for 2040, they plan on upgrading the route between Sandton, Randburg and Ivory Park as well as the roue between Alex and Ivory Park.

While I feel that they have identified there is a wound that needs restitching, they are looking in the wrong areas to apply the treatment.

Their problem statement resonates 100% with me, but I propose a different treatment.

I feel the CoJ is missing the point and speculate that they potentially aiming to serve corporate agendas, linking areas like Sandton and Randburg, which has had minimal intervention by the apartheid planners, but rather were established as a result of corporate intervention. For example, apartheid planners did not found Sandton, Liberty Life did.

I will take the short term and long term approach as they have. It is an ambitious yet very simplistic approach to treating the diagnosis.

In the short term, phase one, I aim to make the waiting/transit time more productive by using the internet and small physical architectural interventions (working/meeting spaces).

In my approach, I aim to link the most spatially disadvantaged areas (measured on the scale of distance from the CBD and population size), to the Johannesburg CBD, using innovative ways and today's technology. This will be a system that can be replicated anywhere that people wait for their transport.

Then, in the long term, I am to build a high speed transportation network that links the three most spatially disadvantaged areas, Tembisa, Katlehong and Soweto, with Johannesburg CBD as the nucleus.

That, in my view, is how we will Restitch our city to create a new future.