Title page for ETD etd-08202008-141836

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Du Plessis, Linet
Email lkolb@deloitte.co.za
URN etd-08202008-141836
Document Title The ideological construction of new urbanism in Melrose Arch : a critical analysis
Degree Master of Arts
Department Visual Arts
Advisor Name Title
Prof J van Eeden Supervisor
  • mixed living
  • sprawl
  • utopianism
  • consumption
  • space
  • place
  • Johannesburg
  • Melrose Arch
  • new urbanism
  • security
  • visual culture
  • class
  • control
  • race
  • elitism
  • brickfields
  • simulacra
Date 2008-04-09
Availability unrestricted

This study examines the manifestation of New Urbanism in the South African environment and applies the themes, characteristics and principles of New Urbanism to the landscape of Melrose Arch in Johannesburg. This precinct has been developed according to New Urban principles, and it is the aim of the author to assess whether these principles have been applied successfully, keeping in mind that since New Urbanism is an American design movement, some of its principles may be impractical to apply in a South African environment.

In order to conceptualise the environment in which the analysis takes place, the author sketches a background of the origin and history of Johannesburg, including the development of the city centre and rise of the suburbs. Trends such as decentralisation and gentrification are also recognised and examined. A correlation is drawn between the Johannesburg of a few decades ago and the contemporary city to see how events and tendencies created the city of today. The current initiatives that are being undertaken to reinvent the CBD and other areas of the city are considered as well, in order to provide a context for Melrose Arch. The author also briefly examines the origin and history of leisure landscapes such as arcades, world fairs and expositions, shopping malls and themed landscapes. The purpose is not to give exact timelines and histories of these phenomena, but rather to provide a historic foundation to work from in order to sketch the context wherein developments such as Melrose Arch can be situated.

The author examines the predecessors of and influences on New Urbanism in an attempt to understand this movement. Starting with the Classical Reformers and the concept of the Ideal City, a common theme runs through several other development theories, such as Garden Cities, Pedestrian Cities, as well as the more recent Edge Cities. The influence of Sprawl on cities is noted, and measures to reduce the occurrence of sprawling land by implementing solutions that are connected to New Urbanism are discussed. The author discusses the inception of New Urbanism, taking into account all the previous discussed development theories that influenced it in one way or another. Additionally, some variations on New Urbanism, such as Traditional Neighbourhood development (TND) and the Pedestrian Pocket (PP) are discussed. New Urbanism is thus placed in a contemporary context by regarding its history and influences.

The application to Melrose Arch includes a brief history of this landscape, as well as its architecture and the articulation of space within the precinct. Some themes evident in Melrose Arch are discussed; many of these are based on popular myths and ideologies and how they are represented in this particular space. Issues such as Security and control, Class and status, Consumption and Utopianism are discussed and applied to Melrose Arch. Finally, the principles and characteristics of New Urbanism are applied to Melrose Arch in order to assess how successful the implementation of New Urbanism is in this precinct.

University of Pretoria

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