Waterfall City (Johannesburg): privatized urbanism in extremis

Murray M J, 2015, “Waterfall City (Johannesburg): privatized urbanism in extremis” Environment and Planning A 47(3) 503 – 520

Located halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, the mixed-use mega-development called Waterfall City is a master-planned, holistically designed, urban enclave built entirely from scratch on 2200 ha of vacant land. This expansive city-building project at Waterfall City combines a hypermodernist stress on ‘smart’ growth, cutting-edge technologies, and state-of-the-art infrastructure with the New Urbanist focus on mixed-use facilities, a human-scale built environment, and pedestrian-friendly precincts. By performing all the conventional functions expected of a municipal administration, the real estate developers at Waterfall City have effectively replaced public authority with private management and control. With its private governance structures and ‘go-it-alone’ mentality, Waterfall City is an exemplary expression of a privately managed municipality that falls within the broad tradition of company towns, treaty concessions, free ports, and independent city-states. Apart from its sheer size and scale and administrative autonomy, the outstanding feature of Waterfall City is its unique blend of stern religious conformity (grounded in a traditional interpretation of Islamic principles) combined with a forward-looking commitment to private enterprise and consumerist consumption.

Available online from Environment and Planning A [Sub required]

Photo via Roger Gordon


Publication Type Journal
Publisher Environment and Planning A
Year 2015
Author(s) Murray,M.J
Read older posts from this section

Leave a Reply