Spatial Analysis and City Planning

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The Third Cycle

For the Third Cycle, the intention is to:

  1. Deepen the areas of focus established in the second cycle but with a shift in the comparative perspective to cities in Africa, and to comparative work across Post-Colonial and Post-Socialist contexts. In this regard, the Chair participated in a successful bid to the European Union's Horizon 2020 programme through UCL Professor Jennifer Robinson for significant funding for a project entitled "Making Africa Urban: The transcalar politics of large-scale urban development". This project commenced in September 2019 and will continue through the course of the Chair's Third Funding Cycle. It is a major focus of work, with the Chair's primary responsibility being to co-ordinate research into the development of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with the research extending also across transcalar network including, for example, to cities in China where investments in Dar es Salaam are sourced.
  2. Direct attention to the implications that the work of the first two cycles has for the planning and development of cities in South Africa, and to the policy and practice of city planning in this context through:

    • Spatial Analysis: Here the focus will be on: the meaning and drivers of spatial transformation in the post-apartheid context, the spatial implications of transnational circulations (with places in the global North and South), the impacts of mega projects, processes of urban densifications, multiple forms of informality, investments in infrastructure, the resilience and sustainability of spatial changes, the actions and effect of private sector development (including processes of financialisation in the built environment), the effects of borders on spatial change, the impacts of technology on spatial form, and processes of growth and decline driven by demographic, economic and other factors. A conceptual framing for this work is provided by the differentiation between “loud encroachments” (for example, the mega projects and major infrastructure investments) and what Asef Bayat has termed “soft encroachments” (for example, small-scale, atomised informality). The analysis will also focus on translations and interactions up and down spatial scales – ranging from transnational circulations and impacts to micro-processes at a neighbourhood level, but also including a focus on national impacts and the city region/ metropolitan scales.
    • City Planning: The Chair will focus on the implications of a deep contextual understanding and of comparative work on the practice of city planning in South Africa. The focus here will include investigation into: the politics and governance of planning, the technologies and instruments of planning, the functioning of city planning departments, the unexplored possibilities of planning, and also the limits of planning, and planning as a profession. The major vehicle for undertaking this work will be the preparation of a second edition of the book: Harrison, P., Watson, V. and A. Todes (2008) Planning and Transformation: Learning from the post-apartheid experience, Routledge.