Object structure

Resuscitating the African giant: Urban renewal and inner city redevelopment initiatives along the ‘Corridors of Freedom’ in downtown Johannesburg


Geographia Polonica Vol. 92 No. 1 (2019)


Kotze, Nico : Autor ORCID ; De Vries, Leani : Autor ORCID



Place of publishing:


Date issued/created:



24 cm

Type of object:


Subject and Keywords:

Johannesburg ; urban regeneration ; redevelopment ; parks ; housing ; transport


After more than two decades of attempting to redevelop the inner city of Johannesburg, it is still perceived by scholars, the popular media and the general public as a crime-ridden area of decay. This paper looks at a public transport system, as well as the redevelopment of parks and the provision of housing in the inner city. The Rea Vaya BRT serves as the ’backbone’ for the redevelopment strategy of the City of Johannesburg’s ’Corridors of Freedom’ which aims to mitigate inequality in the city. This research analyses the success and shortcomings of the BRT system, as well as the redevelopment of inner city parks and the provision of housing for the poor in the inner city and along these development axes. Although large amounts of money have been allocated to the redevelopment of the inner city parks and to tracts of land along these so-called Corridors of Freedom, these parks are still proving to be user-unfriendly owing to a lack of maintenance. Although the redevelopment projects appear to be worthy attempts to improve the inner city of Johannesburg these have as yet not proved themselves to be very effective.


1. Aigbavboa C.O., Thwala W.D., 2013. Housing satisfaction in subsidised housing schemes: a case study of Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, South Africa. Journal of Human Ecology, vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 245-257. https://doi.org/10.1080/09709274.2013.11906599
2. Barret J., 2003. Organizing in the informal economy: A case study of the minibus taxi industry in South Africa. No. 993581583402676,International Labour Organization.
3. Beall J., Crankshaw O., Parnell S., 2002. United: A divided city: Governance and social exclusion in Johannesburg. London: Earthscan.
4. Beavon K.S.O., 2005. Johannesburg: The making and shaping of the city. Pretoria: University of South Africa Press.
5. Bethlehem L., 2013. A new dynamic – urban regeneration in the Jo'burg CBD. The Journal of the Helen Suzman Foundation, vol. 69, pp. 17-24.
6. Boussaa D., 2018. Urban regeneration and the search for identity in historic cities. Sustainability, vol. 10, no. 48, www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability [17 October 2018].
7. Chapman T.P., 2015. Spatial justice and the Western Areas of Johannesburg. African Studies, vol. 74, no. 1, pp. 76-97. https://doi.org/10.1080/00020184.2014.998059
8. CITY OF JOHANNESBURG, n.d.[a]. Corridors of Freedom: re-stitching our City to create a new future. https://www.coursehero.com/file/16296618/corridors-of-freedom-s/ [28 December 2018].
9. CITY OF JOHANNESBURG, n.d.[b]. Empire-Perth Development Corridor Strategic Area Framework. www.cidforum.co.za/files/EMPIRE_PERTH_SAF_FINAL_DRAFT.pdf [25 November 2018].
10. CITY OF JOHANNESBURG, n.d.[c]. Louis Botha Avenue Development Corridor Strategic Area Framework. www.sajr.co.za/docs/default-source/pdf/2016-pdf-docs/louis-botha-final-sajr.pdf?sfvrsn=2 [25 November 2018].
11. CITY OF JOHANNESBURG, n.d.[d]. Turffontein Development Corridor Strategic Area Framework. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B2v6abwVoMI3MGw3QmplN1BkVGs [25 November 2018].
12. City Of JOHANNESBURG, 2001. Johannesburg: an African city in change. Cape Town: Zebra Press.
13. CITY OF JOHANNESBURG, 2013. City of Johannesburg: 2012-2016 Integrated Development Plan: 2013/14 Review. https://joburg.org.za/images/stories/2013/June/2013-16%20idp%2017may2013%20final.pdf [25 November 2018].
14. CITY OF JOHANNESBURG, 2015. 2012/2016 Integrated Development Plan: "Turning Challenges into Opportunities" 2015/2016 Review. https://joburg.org.za/images/stories/2015/June/2015-16%20IDP%20Review.pdf. [25 November 2018].
15. Coggin T., 2015. A right of transport? Moving towards a right-based approach to mobility in the city. South African Journal on Human Rights, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 294-314. https://doi.org/10.1080/19962126.2015.11865248
16. COHRE, 2005. Any room for the poor? Forced evictions in Johannesburg, South Africa: Draft for discussion. Johannesburg: Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions.
17. Couch C., Sykes O., Börstinghaus W., 2011. Thirty years of urban regeneration in Britain, Germany and France: The importance of context and path dependency. Progress in Planning, vol. 75, pp. 1-52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.progress.2010.12.001
18. CSIR, 2012. CSIR Guidelines for the provision of social facilities in South African settlements. Pretoria: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
19. De Vries L., Kotze N., 2016. The revitalisation of parks and open spaces in Downtown Johannesburg. Urbani Izziv, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 123-131. https://doi.org/10.5379/urbani-izziv-en-2016-27-01-003
20. Economist Intelligence UNIT, 2011. African Green City Index: Assessing the environmental performance of Africa's major cities. Munich: Siemens AG.
21. Güzey Ö., 2009. Urban regeneration and increased competitive power: Ankara in an era of globalization. Cities, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 27-37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2008.11.006
22. Harrison P., 2006. On the edge of reason: Planning an urban future in Africa. Urban Studies, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 319-335. https://doi.org/10.1080/00420980500418368
23. HUMAN CITIES (n.d.), Challenging the city scale, 2014-2018. www.humancities.eu [20 October 2018].
24. Jones P., Evans J., 2013. Urban Regeneration in the UK. London: Sage. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781473915015
25. Kotze N., 2013. A community in trouble? The impact of gentrification on the Bo-Kaap,Cape Town. Urbani Izziv, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 124-132. https://doi.org/10.5379/urbani-izziv-en-2013-24-02-004
26. Kotze N., 2015. Johannesburg's Rea Vaya bus rapid transit system: Perceptions and reality of service delivery [in:] S. Goodman, G. Human, C. Mulenga,D. Priilald, J. Robertson(eds.), Management in South Africa: Changes, challenge and opportunity, Proceedings of the 27th Conference of SAIMS – 2015, The South African Institute for Management Scientists, Cape Town, South Africa.
27. Lemanski C., 2007. Global cities in the south: deepening social and spatial polarisation in Cape Town. Cities, vol. 24, no. 6, pp. 448-461. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2007.01.011
28. Lembede X.M., 2016. Johannesburg city officials' visions for low-income housing typologies along the Corridors of Freedom. Johannesburg: School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand, [unpublished research report].
29. Lipietz B., 2008. Building a vision for the postapartheid city: What role for participation in Johannesburg's City Development Strategy?. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 135-163. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2427.2008.00767.x
30. Lockhat Y., Kotze N., 2017. Rea Vaya in Johannesburg: The reality of an underperforming Bus Rapid Transit System [in:] Proceedings of the 75th Anniversary Congress of the Turkish Geography Society, Ankara, Turkey.
31. Marais I.E., 2013. Public space/public sphere: An ethnography of Joubert Park, Johannesburg. Johannesburg: University of Johannesburg [Ph.D. Thesis], https://ujdigispace.uj.ac.za/handle/10210/8447 [25 November 2018].
32. Matjomane K.I., 2012. Cheap rental accommodation in the inner city of Johannesburg, South Africa: The case of Joubert Park. Johannesburg: University of the Witwatersrand [Unpublished Master's Thesis in Development Planning].
33. MAYSON S.S., CHARLTON S., 2015. Accommodation and tenuous livelihoods in Johannesburg's inner city: the 'rooms' and 'spaces' typologies. Urban Forum, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 343-372. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12132-015-9250-z
34. McDonald D.A., 2008. World city syndrome: Neoliberalism and inequality in Cape Town. New York: Routledge. -
35. McDonald S., Malys N., Maliene V., 2009. Urban regeneration for sustainable communities: a case study. Technological and Economic Development of Economy, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 49-59. https://doi.org/10.3846/1392-8619.2009.15.49-59
36. MOAGENG R., GOONDIWALA Z., 2015. Interview: Operational managers. Rea Vaya Management, Johannesburg (18 September 2015).
37. Nikšič M., Tominc B., Goršič N., 2018. Revealing residents' shared values through crowd-sourced photography: Experimental approach in participatory urban regeneration. Urbani Izziv, vol. 29, pp. 29-41.
38. PIRIE G.H., 2007. Reanimating a comatose goddess: Reconfiguring central Cape Town. Urban Forum, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 125-151.
39. Pirie G.H., 2013. Transport Geography in South Africa. Journal of Transport Geography, vol. 31, pp. 312-314. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2013.06.002
40. POULSEN L., 2010. A room in the city: Strategies for assessing affordable accommodation. Urban Forum, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 21-36.
41. ROBINSON J., 2002. City futures: New territories for development studies? [in] J. Robinson (ed.), Development and displacement, Oxford: Oxford University Press, The Open University.
42. Ross N., Bowen P., Lincoln D., 2010. Sustainable housing for low income communities: Lessons for South Africa and other developing world cases. Construction Management and Economics, vol. 28, no. 5, pp. 443-449. https://doi.org/10.1080/01446190903450079
43. SCHNEHAGE M., 2012. Millions ploughed into reclaiming Joburg's inner city. Business Day, www.moneyweb.co.za [30 June 2012].
44. SOUTH AFRICAN CITIES NETWORK, 2014. Spatial transformation of cities: Conference report: 4-6 March 2014. http://www.sacities.net/wpcontent/uploads/2014/10/spatial_transformation_conference_report_web.pdf [25 October 2018].
45. Thwaites K., Helleur E., Simkins I.M., 2005. Restorative urban open space: exploring the spatial configuration of human emotional fulfilment in urban open space. Landscape Research, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 525-547. https://doi.org/10.1080/01426390500273346
46. Thwala W.D., 2008. Employment creation through public works programmes and projects in South Africa: experiences and potential. Acta Commercii, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 103-112. https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v8i1.72
47. Thwala W.D., 2009. Experiences and challenges of community participation in urban renewal projects: the case of Johannesburg, South Africa. Journal of Construction in Developing Countries, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 37-54.
48. Tissington K., 2013. Minding the Gap: An analysis of supply of and demand for low-income rental accommodation in inner-city Johannesburg. Johannesburg: Socio-economic Rights Institute of South Africa.
49. Trósányi A., 2011. The spatial implications of urban renewal carried out by the ECC programs in Pécs. Hungarian Geography Bulletin, vol. 60, no. 3, pp. 261-284.
50. Turok I., Mykhnenk V., 2007. The trajectories of European cities, 1960 – 2005. Cities, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 165-182. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2007.01.007
51. Visser G., Kotze N., 2008. The state and newbuild gentrification in central Cape Town, South Africa. Urban Studies, vol. 45, no. 12, pp. 2565-2593. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098008097104
52. Walters J., 2013. Overview of public transport policy development in South Africa. Research in Transport Economics, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 34-45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.retrec.2012.05.021
53. WINKLER T., 2013. Why won't Downtown Johannesburg 'regenerate'? Reassessing Hillbrow as a case example. Urban Forum, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 309-324. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12132-012-9178-5
54. YOUNG G.A., 2012. Leading with landscape: A regenerative strategy for Johannesburg's inner city. http://sfc2012.org [22 October 2017].
55. Zack T., Bertoldi A., Charlton S., Kihato M., Silverman M., 2010. Strategy for addressing blighted medium and high density residential 'bad buildings' in Johannesburg: Working document for discussion. Johannesburg: City of Johannesburg.


Geographia Polonica





Start page:


End page:


Resource type:


Detailed Resource Type:



File size 0,2 MB

Resource Identifier:

0016-7282 (print) ; 2300-7362 (online) ; 10.7163/GPol.0136


CBGiOS. IGiPZ PAN, call nos.: Cz.2085, Cz.2173, Cz.2406 ; click here to follow the link



Language of abstract:



Creative Commons Attribution BY 4.0 license

Terms of use:

Copyright-protected material. [CC BY 4.0] May be used within the scope specified in Creative Commons Attribution BY 4.0 license, full text available at: ; -

Digitizing institution:

Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Original in:

Central Library of Geography and Environmental Protection. Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization PAS

Projects co-financed by:

Operational Program Digital Poland, 2014-2020, Measure 2.3: Digital accessibility and usefulness of public sector information; funds from the European Regional Development Fund and national co-financing from the state budget.





Citation style: