Spatial connections and disconnections: A critique on the conceptualisation of Tshwane (2000 to 2004)

  • Kestell Serfontein
  • Mark Oranje
Keywords: Spatial connections, Spatial disconnections, urban condition, South Africa, planners


This article had its origins in an interest with the disjuncture between the way people think things are and should be, and the way things ‘really are’. Pursuing this notion took place with an appreciation of the inventive role that language can play in exploring and reporting on these different worlds. The article explores some of the emerging meanings, representations, understandings and visualisations of the rapidly-changing urban condition in the 21st century with particular reference to South Africa. The particular case in point, the City of Tshwane, is contextualised and expounded upon by making use of post-modern writings on the contemporary urban condition, urban planning thought and personal interpretations/signage of the local spatial scenery. In a personal re-interpretation of the spatial conditions of the city, i.e. the ‘spaces of recognition’, an open dialogue is entered into with the prevailing ‘spaces of reflection’, i.e. planners’ documentary portrayals of the 
current ‘spatialities’ and their views and wishes for a better future. Through employing a deconstructive mode of reading the mounting disjuncture, tension and irony in and between the recognisable urban reality and the conceptualised spatial scenery is revealed. The primary argument put forward in the article resonates around planners’ stubborn persistence to hang onto outdated and inappropriate language to make sense of and respond to the world in which they live/function. The authors subsequently argue a case for a far more vivid, fluid, responsive and innovative planning vocabulary, and discourse. In the process they suggest that it is not only the lack of new words/ideas that is of concern, but also the limiting effect that the lack of ’new words/concepts’ have on what planners can see and are willing to see and navigate into existence. 


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