Photography by:
  • Kagiso Dlamini & Amanda van der Walt

Spatial imaginaries

Realising integrated spatial planning across the Gauteng City-Region requires collaboration between municipal and provincial departments together with private developers, residents and affected parties. Understanding the intricacies of spatial visions, the alignments and misalignments of municipal plans, the strategies of investors and the needs of residents develops a sense of the complexity of development in an integrated city-region.

This research project will review a selection of spatial visions that have changed the GCR, together with those that have never been implemented, or remain in their infancy. In particular, the research will look for synergies in approach and strategy between role-players, but will also highlight moments of divergence. Interrogating a diverse number of plans and visions of the GCR will uncover the extent to which key role-players continue to shape our built environment and investigate the forces and strategies that guide its form. Recommendations for integrated city-region planning will conclude the research.

This project will have two major sets of outputs. The first set of outputs is a special issue of Transformation journal on mega projects and catalytic projects in the housing sector. This set of six papers is published in issue 95 of the journal in December 2017.

The second output will be a GCRO research report. A major introductory essay will set the context of the research, and a graphic-oriented review of spatial visions, with mini-essays will form the content of the report.


In April 2015, the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) launched a new policy entitled ‘Mega Projects: Clusters and New Cities’ led by the Department of Human Settlements. The Spatial Imaginaries team joined with others in producing with a map of the month with an accompanying narrative on this new policy.

Journal special edition

Ballard, R. (2017). ‘Prefix as policy: megaprojects as South Africa’s big idea for human settlements’. Transformation. 95.

Ballard, R. and Rubin, M. (2017). ‘A “Marshall Plan” for human settlements: how megaprojects became South Africa’s housing policy’. Transformation. 95.

Ballard, R., Dittgen, R., Harrison, P. and Todes, A. (2017). ‘Megaprojects and urban visions: Johannesburg’s Corridors of Freedom and Modderfontein’. Transformation. 95.


Richard Ballard (September 2018). 'A ‘Marshall plan’ for human settlements: How mega projects became South Africa’s housing policy', Guest Lecture for 3rd year Wits planning students, 25 September 2018.

Richard Ballard (May 2017) 'A ‘Marshall plan’ for human settlements: How mega projects became South Africa’s housing policy' Lecture to housing certificate students, Wits school of governance. 11 May 2017.

Richard Ballard and Margot Rubin (April 2017) 'A ‘Marshall plan’ for human settlements: How mega projects became South Africa’s housing policy' Faces of the City Seminar series. Wits University. 11 April 2017.

Richard Ballard (September 2016) ‘Imagining Gauteng’. Society of South African Geographers biennial conference in Stellenbosch. 26 September 2016

Richard Ballard (September 2016) ‘Scaling (back) up: South Africa’s policy references to “Mega Human Settlements'’. RGS-IBG. London, 1 September 2016.

Richard Ballard (August 2016) ‘How did we get here? Mega human settlements as an emerging policy idea’ Gauteng Planning Forum. 18 August 2016.

Richard Ballard and Margot Rubin (March 2016) ‘A big solution to a big problem? Mega Human Settlements as a policy idea’. South African Cities Studies Conference, Durban (18 March 2016).

Last updated: 9 July 2019


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