Past segregationist urban planning and socio-economic inequalities continue to have a profound effect on how urban spaces are produced and used today in South Africa. Johannesburg, in particular, has been developing and implementing policies and programmes geared to addressing this past legacy. Access to public space and cultural production are the focuses of these actions.
The Newtown Cultural Precinct forms part of a network of five regeneration projects within Johannesburg aimed at enhancing culturally significant areas. Culture is thus seen as a way of commemorating historically relevant areas and the creative legacy of their inhabitants by creating spaces that can be accessed and used by all who live, work and visit the city and its surrounding areas. The Newtown Cultural Precinct is a mixed-use area, comprising museums, theatres, dance studios, restaurants, workshops, live music venues and art galleries. However, the development of the Precinct illustrates how planning of cultural spaces must extend beyond the construction of physical infrastructure to incorporate historical experiences and the perceptions of present-day communities. The embodiment of culture in society, and the manner in which planning and urban design responds, should be context-specific.
Source: Arterial Network, report for Study Area 1