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Metro Mall Development Framework and Implementation, Johannesburg , 2000 -2001 (@US)

Integrating marginalised communities, and more specifically street traders and taxi operators into the public realm; how to provide them with representative architecture that enables their endeavours, provides a sense of ownership and identity, and possibly even a sense of pride, is part of this discussion and a topic I have been involved with for the greater part of 10 years.

In the Metro Mall development the link between traders and transport operators was made. Taxis are the most popular mode of transport in all urban areas for the majority of South Africa’s population and account for 65% of the total. More than 12 000 mini-bus taxis serve commuters to and from outlying areas to the city of Johannesburg

The Metro Mall design indicates a significant shift in approach to dealing with public buildings, and the provision for a sector of our society, marginalised in the past. It presents itself with pride and a sense of arrival, avoiding the stereotype taxi ranks we have seen dotted around our urban centres. If anything it displays a sense of permanence, moving away from the temporary treatment the mini-bus taxis and traders received in the past.

The brief asked for a transport interchange providing holding space for 25 buses and 2 000 mini-bus taxis, trading space for 800 informal traders, and to welcome and assist the 200 000 commuters who pass through the facility on a daily basis. Formal retailers, community amenities, crèches, recreation halls and transport association offices also required.