chapter  8
16 Pages

Constitution Hill: Just Space or Space of Justice?

ByZarina Patel, Clinton David van der Merwe

South Africa’s post-1994 period of legislative and policy reform has been shaped by the objective of democratising society with an explicit commitment to reversing injustices. Theorising and testing the limits and potential of social justice in a post-apartheid context remains an underexplored area in urban studies.2 Here, we engage with the relationship between the spatial form and symbolism of Constitution Hill and conceptions of social justice. As urban geographers, we assume that spatial changes in the urban fabric of the post-apartheid city landscape cannot be understood purely in physical terms. Whilst addressing a history of socio-economic exclusion has physical dimensions, ‘becoming a city that all citizens can feel part of’3 must engage with what it means for citizens to belong; as well as the values and intentions of the planners and architects designing spaces for citizens to ‘be’ in. We have argued that spatial change in a city landscape4 is underpinned by particular motivations and values that inform the pattern of development and redistribution of resources: human, social, economic and environmental capital.5 The relationship between spatial change, accessibility and sustainability are therefore dependent on how discourses of justice inform design as well as the extent to which society can identify with these elite-led designs.