The idea is to have something along the lines of Parkhurst’s 4th Avenue, where shops and cafes spill out onto the pavement, and you can walk up and down the strip. It’s already happening outside the Trumpet, and the idea seems to be that by adding people who actually live and work in the precinct, that there will be a critical mass to really make the streets come alive.
On the Trumpet side, they’ve already widened pavements, put in traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, and other traffic calming measures, planted trees, beefed up security and so on. That’ll continue outside the new buildings, transforming the whole area into a very rare example of a real safe public space. It’s an ideal of certain European cities, but there’s certainly no reason it couldn’t work, or shouldn’t be appropriate in Joburg.
Still, it’s quite a mind-shift for South Africans, who are used to aspiring to houses in the suburbs or in gated communities.
But if you look at how cities develop, it’s clear that in Joburg the era of the freestanding home in the suburbs, driving around in cars and shopping in malls is over. There’s a new kind of city springing up beneath our feet.