The Spatial Transformation of Cities Conference

To overcome the legacy of apartheid, cities in South Africa must spatially transform and restructure. The National Development Plan (NDP) outlines the principles: spatial justice, spatial sustainability, spatial resilience, spatial quality and spatial ef­ficiency. But, what does this mean at the city level? Spatial transformation of our cities is not only about public investment but also the dynamics of private developments. Mobility in the city is also important, as the ability of the urban population to navigate the city for work and social activities contributes towards overall growth and development


This report reflects the discussions and engagements at the conference around these themes. A ­ first important discussion revolved around the highlevel political context necessary for the kind of spatial transformation that would provide the support and buy-in for change in our urban context. This was followed by panels that engaged with the international and local contexts of urban spatial transformation. Finally, the second component of the conference looked at the practical implications, opportunities and challenges for the South African built environment.


The intent of the conference was to convene key roleplayers in the urban space economy to reflect on the following key issues, using Johannesburg as a laboratory/case study:

  • Showcase and interrogate thinking and practical work undertaken by cities;
  • Gain knowledge and insight at the city scale;
  • Deepen mutual understanding and learning regarding challenges and strategies for spatial transformation;
  • Build the capacity of learning institutions like built environment schools in the universities and thematic industry associations and learning networks;
  • Contribute to informing national and local urban and spatial development policies and plans.