Notes from the South (Part 4): Branding Africa’s World Class City

World Class City?

World Class City?

by Ares Kalandides

(You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here)

In Summer 2013 the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa ruled that Johannesburg should stop using the slogan of “Africa’s World Class City” as this tile was “misleading and did not represent reality”. As far as I know it is the first time that a city-branding claim is being taken so seriously and challenged. I have so often aired by doubts on the usefulness of logos and slogans for places that I do not wish to expand on that now. Nonetheless, I find that this particular example is an interesting case study about the position of slogans in place branding. Continue reading

Notes from the South (Part 3): Crossing lines

Rea Vaya, Johannesburg's BRT (Bus Rapid Transportation System)

Rea Vaya, Johannesburg’s BRT (Bus Rapid Transportation System)

by Ares Kalandides

(You can find part 1 here and part 2 here)

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 minibus 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). Continue reading

Notes from the South (Part 2): Housing under siege

diepslootby Ares Kalandides[1]

(This is the second part on the blog entry. 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.

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Notes from the South (Part 1): A Johannesburg diary

taxi rank from aboveby 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.

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The (In)formal City: Searching for (In)formality

INFORMAL CITY_exhibAt GIfA, 77 Juta Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg
from 18 November 2013

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. Continue reading

Urban gardening and (in)formality in Berlin (Part 3)


by Olumuyiwa Adegun and Héctor Rojas Carreto


As Blog 3 in our series on Urban Gardening (part 1 here, part 2 here), here we present our reflection of the cases of Tempelhofer Freiheit, discussed in Urban gardening and (in)formality in Berlin 1 and Prinzessinnen Garden, discussed in Urban gardening and (in)formality in Berlin 2. We present these along four main themes- productive public space; the people’s voice in planning; ‘clash of values’: economic versus the socio-ecological and others; as well as limitations and Challenges. Continue reading

Urban gardening and (in)formality in Berlin 2: Prinzessinnen Garden

Prinz4by Olumuyiwa Adegun and Héctor Rojas Carreto


This is a follow-up to our earlier blog ‘Urban gardening and (In)formality in Berlin 1’, which considered the case of Tempelhof and the informality therein. In this entry, we take a look at the Prinzessinnen garden. It should recalled that both cases emerge from our participation in the Berlin phase of the (In)formal city exchange programme. The places visited and, histories and trajectories learnt led us to hypothesise that urban gardening is one of the expression of urban spatial transformation in Berlin, which is set in the continuum between informality and formality. Here, we attempt to verify and expound on this claim through the case of Prinzessinnen garden.  Continue reading