Exhibition to chart evolution of Joburg's inner city planning

New commercial, cultural and residential developments have given Joburg a very different inner city from the one it inherited from apartheid 21 years ago.New commercial, cultural and residential developments have given Joburg a very different inner city from the one it inherited from apartheid 21 years ago.

What's the Plan, a multimedia exhibition taking place in Maboneng in August, will chart the evolution of the changing approaches to regeneration and spatial planning in inner city Johannesburg from 2000 to 2015.

The Greater Ellis Park Precinct was among a number of inner city areas designated for integrated development around core activities distinguishing each area under the JDA's precinct-based approach of 2007-13. The recently launched Inner City Roadmap incorporates this precinct-based method into the drive for an inclusive, spatially transformed inner city.The Greater Ellis Park Precinct was among a number of inner city areas designated for integrated development around core activities distinguishing each area under the JDA's precinct-based approach of 2007-13. The recently launched Inner City Roadmap incorporates this precinct-based method into the drive for an inclusive, spatially transformed inner city.The exhibition is being specially curated for the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), which has spearheaded the implementation of the City's inner city regeneration drive over the last 15 years.

What's the Plan deploys a visually arresting mix of aerial and ground photography, maps, scale plans and architects' drawings to capture four distinct phases in the shift from a strategy based narrowly on attracting investment to one that focuses holistically on liveability, economic sustainability, the urban poor and the needs of inner city communities.

Through the exhibition and accompanying booklet, the JDA aims to get City officials, investors, community members, planners, consultants, students and the public to join it in reflecting on the last decade-and-a-half of inner city engagement and to share their perspectives on where they see this going in the future.

The exhibition is a timely one. In his State of the City address in May, Executive Mayor Parks Tau underlined the importance of the ongoing work in the inner city, saying it had already transformed the urban landscape.

"If you haven't been to the inner city in the last five years, you wouldn't recognise many parts of it … Travel guides now heap praise on Braamfontein, Maboneng, the Fashion District, Marshalltown and Newtown," Mayor Tau said, referring to a recent spate of rave reviews that Johannesburg has received from international travel journalists, all of whom cited especially the rebirth of the inner city.

And in June, the Mayor launched the Inner City Roadmap, which provides a comprehensive, integrated, long-term strategy for shifting the City's inner city regeneration drive up a gear.

The JDA, whose involvement has been key to the successes achieved so far in the inner city, will serve as development facilitator for the Roadmap, implementing both capital projects initiated by the City and collaborative projects with the private sector.

"The JDA has a history in working in the inner city at strategic level, at spatial planning level and at implementation level," the Roadmap notes. "Through its work it has built relationships with several existing inner city communities and many stakeholders."

Besides having the systems and expertise in place for undertaking a range of projects and development facilitation functions, including procurement and project management, the JDA boasts extensive experience of area-based development "and is recognised for this role among international city development agencies", the Roadmap states.

Through What's the Plan, the JDA hopes both to share its experiences and the lessons it has learnt over the last 15 years, and to strengthen its relationships with affected communities and relevant stakeholders.

What's the Plan? (Inner City) will run at the Gauteng Institute for Architecture (GIfA) at 27 Fox Street in Maboneng from 4 to 29 August, to be followed in 2016 by What's the Plan? (Alexandra), which will document the evolution of the JDA's development planning for the city's oldest township.

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