Blue Moonlight vs City of Joburg, the saga that may define future of SA properties

From THEDAILYMAVERICK by STEPHEN GROOTES – a property nightmare unfolding quietly (they hope!) has major implications for property owners and Municipalities in South Africa and underscores the need for  for politicians and governments to rethink the idea of providing housing to all and rather focusing on providing the infrastructure and climate for growth needed to foster entrepreneurial and employment opportunities and let people decide themselves where an how they live. Like the tongue in cheek portrayal of squatter problems in the movie District 9 we live in evolving cities where every move and countermove is contested and nothing is as straight forward as it seems!

The tension between the rights of property owners and those with no property at all pretty much defines South Africa. It’s at the nub of so many things, from arguments about race to economic policy and even the ANC Youth League’s call for mine nationalisation. But nowhere is it as stark as when cases about evictions, councils and property owners come to court. A decision by the Supreme Court of Appeal on Wednesday has moved responsibility from property owners to the ‘court’ of the City of Joburg. Needless to say, the city is deeply unhappy.

Ask any landlord and they’ll tell you their greatest fear is what will happen if they cannot get a tenant to move out. Often they refuse to leave, many times they refuse to pay. You get caught in a vice. You have a property to pay off, no money coming in and a tenant who contributes nothing. In some cases the property is badly damaged, in others, the tenants are not the people who the landlord actually let the property to in the first place.

Scene from District 9 Movie

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Huge renewable, nuclear build ahead for SA, but coal is here to stay

From THEDAILYMAVERICK – details of South Africa’s long awaited and contested Integrated Resource Plan: Some ‘Good News’ and some ‘Bad News’ depending on your stance on nuclear energy and your belief in renewables ability to deliver in the context of Southern Africa’s large volumes of available coal and its need to satisfy many parties development and infrastructure needs. The impact of funding of African infrastructure needs is always questionable and results in many compromises along the way. We are all hoping for greater use of renewables and yet no one wants power outages in their area! Expect some serious debates in this heated territory! Without power to cities no future can be even vaguely talked about – sustainability requires a balance we have yet to achieve – hover over the question how do we reduce our consumption without requiring reduction in population – what politician or ‘humanist’ academic can stomach that bitter pill?


At long last, the cabinet has approved and published the national Integrated Resource Plan for electricity. Now this has to be passed by Parliament and published in the Government Gazette. Let’s hope there will not be further delays and a measure of certainty will prevail so the electricity sector can get down to work.

Officially abbreviated to IRP 2010, the plan forecasts South Africa’s electricity demand up to 2030, and determines how this demand is to be met. It sets out the generation technologies to be used and the planned mix of primary energy options over this period, such as the mix between hydrocarbon (coal, gas, diesel), renewable (hydro, wind, solar), nuclear, pumped storage and other power generation technologies.

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Mission’s Noisebridge – via Fecal Face Dot Com

From FECAL FACE DOT COM– This might seem a bit off topic here  -( generally how we make help our cities work now and in the future) – but it strikes me as apt that the key to a more meaningful future is everyone taking part in it – not just consuming and spectating/ vegetating – but actually doing something tangible!  I love making stuff, programming stuff and want to learn more and how to do more stuff– – – I am all for Noisebridge‘s vision which is based on this idea:

We make stuff. So can you!

“Inspired in part by the open source movement, public spaces are emerging where people congregate to share ideas, make cool projects, teach, and brainstorm with collaborators on everything from coding to cooking. With no leaders, they have one rule: “Be excellent to each other.” Take a tour of the hackerspace Noisebridge, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, with co-founder Mitch Altman.”

Tripartite Pillars


Be excellent to each otheris the guiding principle of Noisebridge. Similar to Wikipedia’s don’t be a dick, this is “the fundamental rule of all social spaces. Every other policy for getting along is a special case of it.” Unlike Wikipedia, Noisebridge takes a positive approach, and avoids the practice of officially enumerating the myriad potential special cases; “be excellent” is enough.


We make official Noisebridge decisions by consensus, which means the unanimous consent of all of our members. Decisions are made at our weekly meetings, and items proposed for consensus are announced at least a week in advance to give everyone time to hear about them. Members may block by proxy if they are unable to attend or if they wish to block anonymously.


Doing excellent stuff at Noisebridge does not require permission or an official consensus decision. If you’re uncertain about the excellence of something you want to do, you should ask someone else what they think.

Rem Koolhaas’: ‘Advancement versus Apocalypse’ via SustainableCitiesCollective

Here is a post by Jason King that delves into the dilemma over whether small scale interventions to improve ecological or social performance are worthwhile (individual building ‘greening’ such as LEED, Greenstar, Bream  buildings, green roofs and  local actions of individuals to conserve, recycle etc) or can only large scale interventions help? Its a comment on an essay in one of my favorite books of last year which has been called more of a ‘compendium of the possible’ than  a serious ‘reader’ on the subject of sustainability.

“As I mentioned in the recent reckoning of the L+U blog, I wanted to focus on a number of recent texts that I’ve had the chance to delve into (by disconnecting myself from the nefarious teat of the RSS feeder)  Of significance is finally getting around to expanding on the initial readings of the book Ecological Urbanism (check out Intro by Mohsen Mostafavi, ‘Why Ecological Urbanism?  Why Now?, in two parts here andhere) which although gigantic, dense and brick-like, is also yielding some engaging content.

Thus in lieu of another option for a book with over 100+ essays and snippets from various authors, I’m going to chronologically post on each one on a mostly, time permitting, daily basis – in some cases just a fragment or two worthy of discussion – sometimes in more length.  Hope you enjoy.  Here’s the first installment – follow by regular installments with the moniker RBC.

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Making Room for a Planet of Cities

According to Gregory Ingram on Planetizen  developing cities are different to old world cities – it’s about time urban planers and NGO’s realize this as Edgar Pieterse of the African Centre For Cities has been saying for some time – African cities and generally developing cities have different set of priorities to what 1st world planner anticipate :

”  As cities in developing countries expand, is smart growth the right approach? The conclusions of a new report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy may surprise you.

It was a different time when Daniel Burnham famously suggested, “make no little plans.” But today, as rapidly growing cities in the developing world anticipate a great surge of urban population, planners really do need to think big

Bangkok, Thailand grew 16 times larger since 1944. Image: klimenko.

Over half the world’s current population lives in cities, including many millions in informal settlements. Demographic forecasts indicate that the world’s urban population will double from 3 billion in 2000 to 6 billion in 2050, with nearly all urban growth occurring in developing countries. While the urban population in these nations doubles between 2000 and 2030, the built-up area of their cities can be expected to triple. This is clearly a mandate for preparation and planning.

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Japan: Two Perspectives after Disaster (via Encountering Urbanization)

This is part of an res -URGENT discussion needed of how globalization and the “just-in-time’ delivery networks of supermarkets and manufacturing business undermine a cities RESILIENCE and ability to withstand both large scale catastrophic disaster as well as the slower effects of global “shrinkage” in the face of economic downturn pressures which don’t make the headlines in the same way as tsunami’s and earthquakes, but having equally devastating results for the urban poor – especially in the marginalized cities of the global south. Shigeru Ban is an architect who has been outspoken in stating the case for responsible architecture and urbanization:

Japan: Two Perspectives after Disaster Two weeks after the worst earthquake in Japan’s history the discussions surround relieve and rebuilding bring multiple perspectives about what nations and NGOs are doing to help the country of Japan.  With this disaster effecting millions of people it is rather difficult to put these events into a human scale.  The two stories below attempt to do just that as two architects discuss their perspective on these events. Architect Shigeru Ban, in a Ne … Read More

via Encountering Urbanization

Winners of NETWORK RESET: Rethinking the Chicago Emerald Necklace

From bustler: A rethinking of how a large cities fragmented infrastructure and famous parks designed by one of the founders of the disciplines of both Landscape Architecture and Urbanism, Frederick Law Olmsted, can be reshape the urban periphery.

MAS Studio and the Chicago Architectural Club announced the results of NETWORK RESET, a single-stage international competition that seeks to provide ideas and actions that can reactivate the Boulevard System of Chicago and rethink its potential role in the city

Background from the competition brief:

” NETWORK RESET, a single-stage international competition that seeks to provide ideas and actions that can reactivate the Boulevard System of Chicago and rethink its potential role in the city.”

FIRST PRIZE: Chicago Constellation

FIRST PRIZE: Chicago Constellation”

“Proposed by John S. Wright in 1849, the system was envisioned twenty years later when the State Legislature established the South, West, and Lincoln Park Commissions. Also referred as the “Emerald Necklace” since the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, it is composed by a series of streets and parks, some of them designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and William Le Baron Jenney. After the mid-twentieth century, the lack of proper funding, the split of management of the system as a whole (parks would be managed separately from the streets) and the migration of residents to the suburbs were some of the circumstances that accelerated the deterioration of the system. While portions of it, such as the Logan Square Boulevards District (an official city landmark district since 2005) still maintain the original character, other parts have just become underutilized areas and oversized streets that act as barriers within neighborhoods.”

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BIG Wins the Stockholmsporten Master Plan

From bustler: BIG continues their winning  spree this time entering and (in my opinion) mastering the controversial territory of ‘Landscape Urbanism’ in a way that is fresh and intersects with both infrastructural and cultural  aspects of the sites environment as well as being a true interdisciplinary project with collaboration from all parties in the final product: I particularly like the way technical daring and technological innovation ( the sphere) combine with dramatic sculptural land-art and are shown off by digital representation, physical models and diagrams explain the intentions – no doubt contributing to their being selected as the winner:

Competition-winning design for the Stockholmsporten master plan by BIG in collaboration with Grontmij and Spacescape

Competition-winning design for the Stockholmsporten master plan by BIG in collaboration with Grontmij and Spacescape

“The Energy Valley is a cross-over between urbanism, landscape, architecture, art and infrastructure into a new neighborhood of Stockholm. Harnessing the momentum of the massive investment in tunnels and highways and putting the excess excavation to use as a man-made valley, we create an interdisciplinary hybrid of logistic, economic, environmental and social infrastructure.” Bjarke Ingels, Founder & Partner, BIG.The planned Hjulsta Intersection 15 km north of Stockholm where two European highways, the E18 and E4 Bypasses, converge into a three level intersection, amounts to the largest infrastructure project in Sweden, required due to the growth and development of the capital.


Academics “embrace” Wikipedia – shock! (via Philippa Thomas Online)

Keeping up with the ‘real” world takes work – we have to dig in ourselves if we want to use the on line world, if you want to help reshape or improve Wikipedia then read Philippa’s excellent post on how to become a Wikipedia contributor

Interesting piece on the BBC website today about students at Imperial College London trying to “bridge” the worlds of academia and Wikipedia. They seem very sensibly to be saying – Wikipedia isn’t going away – Wikipedia is just about the world’s most used research resource – why not bring academic brains to the task of improving rather than scorning the open source encyclopaedia? I’ve seen both sides of our schizophrenic approach to Wikipedia. As … Read More

via Philippa Thomas Online

No quick fix to save our cities, so we’d better start now – Ian Ollis DA MP

A piece from THE DAILY MAVERICK , emailed to me by friend highlights how some people are “getting it” as far as the problems with our cities – Ian Ollis  seems to be one of them and being a politician, seems to say it well – worth a read  – become one of the 4% in the know (read the article!) so we can make a difference — I have added a few pictures of the things he says for those of us who are not into long reams of text , without some  ocular relief!

Ian Ollis
No quick fix to save our cities, so we’d better start now

Urban sprawl and everything that goes with it are global crises, and rapidly approaching disastrous proportions in South Africa. Solving the problems is fraught with every conceivable problem – all the more reason to get started right away.

Urban sprawl, affectionately called Jo’burg Image: Andres Annman

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