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The South African Informal City

18 October 2012 - In November 2011, the Architects' Collective and its project partners hosted the South African Informal City exhibition and seminar at the Bus Factory in Newtown, Johannesburg. The event was one of the technical site visits offered by the Local Government Programme for COP17, during the United Nations Seventeenth Conference of Parties in Durban, South Africa.

The South African Informal City exhibition was conceived to highlight informal practices as an important issue for sustainable urban development. The objective was to explore the work being conducted around informality, both in South Africa and in other developing countries.

The exhibition and seminar showcased a number of exemplary projects that address informality in South Africa. It also provided an opportunity for dialogue between built-environment professionals, policy-makers and the public about this increasingly important urban issue. The concept behind the exhibition and seminar was to examine the challenges and opportunities presented by the informal sector, for both private and public development, with a primary focus on people.

The project has since grown to include a comprehensive website documenting both the exhibition and seminar.

Recognising the potential for reaching an even broader audience and for sustaining the momentum of this critical debate, Urban LandMark and the South African Cities Network have partnered with the SA Informal City Project to publish a print version of the exhibition content and seminar outcomes. This print publication is intended to provide a platform for the project to become part of a greater academic, professional and public discourse on informality in cities.

In the book, the 20 projects on urban informality which formed the basis of the exhibition have been arranged thematically in four categories: Research, reflections and modelling; Inner city informality; In-situ upgrading and integrated urban development; and Catalytic projects. Copies of the book are available from the Architects' Collective.

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