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Conceiving, producing and managing a neighbourhood (2019)

There are many urban interventions proposed within the Gauteng City-Region at present, from transport and area-based upgrading projects (Corridors of Freedom/Transit Oriented Development) to mega-human settlements, inner-city renewal schemes and the establishment of City Improvement Districts in various locations. As they are envisioned, planned and implemented, all of these projects will make significant alterations to the urban fabric. It is therefore crucial that research engages with these processes and captures their dynamics, contradictions and outcomes. This project sought to contribute to this endeavour by examining how two area-based management and urban upgrading projects are envisioned and implemented and also draws attention to the variety of practices, mechanisms, compromises and experiments which are required to bring urban interventions to fruition.

The research entailed a case-study of the expanding eKhaya precinct in Hillbrow and the development of a Precinct Plan in Norwood, a suburb in the north-east of Johannesburg. Ekhaya is a Residential City Improvement District and was an intervention led primarily by private sector actors. The Grant Avenue Precinct Plan, in contrast, was initiated by local government as part of broader efforts to manage change and facilitate improved residential intensification and transformation in the suburb. The interventions are therefore different examples of urban interventions and they mobilise different sets of actors, ambitions and resources.

The research examined the interventions from three perspectives: firstly, it looked at the ways in which the two neighbourhood interventions were conceived/imagined by various actors who operate on different scales. Attention then turned to the different activities and governance arrangements that were utilised to bring the visions to life and produce the neighbourhoods. Lastly, the day-to-day activities and urban management practices which facilitated the neighbourhoods and maintained the interventions were explored to understand the lived dynamics and social relations which these interventions have engendered. Through these different lenses, the research thus explored the different ambitions, governance arrangements, alliances and partnerships and actors that are assembled at the neighbourhood scale.



Mkhize, Thembani (2018). 'Urban Crime and Grime: Lessons from Hillbrow's eKhaya Residential City Improvement District'. In Urban Innovations: Documenting Innovative Responses to Urban Pressures, edited by Philip Harrison and Margot Rubin. Pretoria: Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, 66-97.

Mkhize, Thembani and Aidan Mosselson (2019). Conceiving, producing and managing neighbourhoods: Comparing urban upgrading initiatives in Johannesburg. GCRO Occasional Paper 14.


Thembani Mkhize (2018). 'Unpacking Everyday Management in an Improvement District: Property Caretakers as Street-level Bureaucrats in Ekhaya Neighbourhood CID, Hillbrow, Johannesburg', RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, Cardiff University, Cardiff, 31 August 2018.

Thembani Mkhize (2018). 'Unpacking Everyday Management in an Improvement District: Property Caretakers as Street-level Bureaucrats in Ekhaya Neighbourhood CID, Hillbrow, Johannesburg', WITS-TUB Urban Lab, Johannesburg, 17 April 2018.

Last updated: 18 August 2019


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