Local public space, global spectacle : a case study on South Africa's first shipping container shopping center
Author(s)Ferguson, Tiffany (Tiffany M.)
Case study on South Africa's first shipping container shopping center
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
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This thesis is the explication of a journey to reconcile Johannesburg's aspiration to become a 'spatially just world class African city' through the lens of the under-performing 27 Boxes, a globally inspired yet locally contested retail center in the popular Johannesburg suburb of Melville. By examining the project's public space, market, retail, and design features -- features that play a critical role in its imagined local economic development promise -- I argue that the project's 'failure' can be seen through a prism of factors that are simultaneously local and global. Furthermore, the perceived failure and reinvention of the center exemplify the tensions inherent in municipal, developer, and community aspirations for who such projects should serve and subsequently, who is welcome to access and utilize Melville public spaces. What began as a project intended to offer an anti-mall experience to a broad-ranging group of patrons is now being reconstituted as a space for Melville residents who yearn for the village-like community environment that flourished years before. These tensions between nostalgia for the past, the politics of spatial justice, and world class African urbanism provoke us to think deeply about if, when, and how divergent market and state priorities can be aligned and exploited for local social and economic impact. The research raises critical questions about how to develop and promote urban amenities, like alternative urban retail formats, that might simultaneously create value for the city's global brand and local residents; and, ideas for mitigating the friction among seemingly competing stakeholder aspirations.
Thesis: M.C.P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 2018.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 63-67).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.