Between my last blog entry and today a major event occurred: Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s national hero and an icon of freedom movements worldwide passed away. Although Mandela had not made a public appearance in years and there were several rumours around the state of his health, I was deeply moved by the finality of his death, as were millions of other people around the globe. I cannot pretend to know much about the man or even deeply understand his legacy for the country, after such a limited experience. What I can do here though, is try to make sense of my observations in Johannesburg, of what Mandela meant to me and probably to many other people. (more…)
Athens, 5-7 December 2013
URBAN CRISIS OR URBAN CRISES?
Comparing austerity urbanism, everyday life and resistance in Greek and German cities
Address: National Technical University of Athens/Tositsa Building/ Patision 142
Department of Geosciences / Geography, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
Department of Urban and Regional Planning, National Technical University of Athens
Supported by DAAD
by Ares Kalandides
The instant you pass the turnstiles of the Rea Vaya you find yourself on the other side of the mirror. Rea Vaya, Johannesburg’s BRT (Bus Rapid Transportation system) is a parallel universe crossing the city from end to end; a glass world that engulfs the passenger in safety and order. The system was inaugurated in 2009, a few months before the Soccer World Cup in South Africa and its foremost aim was to transport visitors to the sports sites. In a city with serious mobility issues, the new BRT was a very ambitious undertaking that was supposed to help solve the transportation problems for all citizens and visitors in the long term. The system was already tried out in Latin America (Curitiba, Bogotá etc.) and was adopted in Johannesburg despite some serious criticism. It is very different from the Metrobus (the pre-existing bus system) and the mini-bus taxis. Both of the others are more popular and cheaper means of transportation that also cover a much larger territory, in particularly linking many of the peri-urban settlements (where people live) with the inner city (where people work).
by Ares Kalandides
(This is the second part on The (In)formal City project in Johannesburg. For part 1 see here)
The South African constitution is very straightforward about the right to housing to all the state’s citizens. Article 26 of the Bill of Rights declares:
1. Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing.
2. The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.
3. No one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances. No legislation may permit arbitrary evictions.
There are several cases where communities in the Gauteng province were displaced, only to have the Constitutional Court rule a) that the authorities had acted illegally and b) that they needed to provide alternative shelters immediately. The bottom line is that that cities around the country in general and the city of Johannesburg in particular are under constant pressure to provide adequate housing. (more…)
by Ares Kalandides
Walking down the streets of Johannesburg in a conspicuously large group will of course attract stares. Here we are, a crowd of 22 with different backgrounds and skin colours (Africans, Europeans, Latin Americans) diving into taxi ranks, climbing up roofs and emerging out of oriental markets. Yet, we are not in Jo’burg to consume images: Our transdisciplinary team is here to look at spatial practices between formality and informality. On the one hand we are trying to understand the meaning of the terms (if there is any to begin with) and on the other to see how they can be operationalized in our own practical work or activism. The project, The (In)formal City, was initiated by the Goethe-Institut and Inpolis in Berlin and is financed by the Robert-Bosch-Stiftung. Anne Graupner (26’10 SOUTH ARCHITECTS) and Alex Opper (University of Johannesburg) are the cooperation partners and hosts in South Africa.
The (In)formal City constitutes an example of an immersive and process-driven project of exchange, premised on international comparison and collaboration between two interdisciplinary teams of participants from Berlin and Johannesburg respectively. The primary focus of this exchange is to challenge often overly simplistic understandings of the terms formality and informality. In the context of this project, each participating team consists of students and young professionals from architectural, planning and (urban) geography backgrounds: researchers and practitioners interested in the complexities inherent in the current and ongoing pervasive global occurrences of urbanisation. Specifically the exchange, analysing conditions underpinned by (in)formality in these two very particular cities, concerns itself with and investigates aspects around commonalities and differences between formality and informality - not only within the two contexts, but also between them.