Addressing Inequality through Bold Spatial Interventions
In 2016, UN Habitat ranked Johannesburg the most unequal large city in the world. Although extreme in international terms, and particular for its apartheid history, experiences from Johannesburg direct compelling attention to urban inequality as a global concern. Inequality is deeply embedded in economic and social structures. There is, however, an important spatial dimension, with the poorest residents being the most physically marginalized from the benefits of urban living.
In 2013, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality launched an ambitious program, evocatively named the “Corridors of Freedom”. This initiative aimed to spatially integrate and unite the city through inclusionary Transit Oriented Development (TOD). It attempted to lure private investors to TOD corridors through strategic municipal investment in infrastructure and new incentives, and also direct them into affordable market segments.
This case study provides an analysis of the possibilities and limitation of implementing ambitious, progressive, long-term spatial strategies within contexts of change and uncertainty. It indicates that spatial transformation programs are highly complex and require the alignment of numerous moving parts, but if sensitively managed and carefully embedded within their institutional and societal contexts, they may have a significant cumulative effect over the long term