Johannesburg – the spaces ‘in between’

The space in-between or the uitvalgrond formed old Joburg city centre

Map of Johannesburg Township 1886 (Source: Musiker, N&R. ‘A Concise Historical Dictionary of Greater Johannesburg’ Francolin, 2000: 30)

Just discovered a great website on Joburg (bit embarrassed I didn’t know of it before).    It’s  www. jhbwtc.blogspot.com and it’s the website of  the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism.   Based at Wits University, their work (as their name indicates) is academic and inter-disciplinary, focusing on critical social analysis.

I found an interesting article by Bettina Malcomess on the notion of the uitvalgrond and how it is a defining feature of Johannesburg’s  spatial, cultural, economic and political identity.   Uitvalgrond loosely translated in English means left-over or surplus ground.

While all cities have marginal and in-between spaces, what makes Johannesburg unusual is that when it was laid out in 1886, at what was to become its very centre, was a piece of uitvalgrond .  Where the 3 farms of Braamfontein, Doornfontein and Turffontein met there was a triangular piece of surplus land  (roughly between Pritchard and Bree streets today in Joburg Central).

Malcomess goes on to look at other spaces of ‘uitvalgrond’ which have defined the way Johannebsurg has developed since its founding.

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4 thoughts on “Johannesburg – the spaces ‘in between’

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