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Shopping malls with quasi-public spaces in Pretoria: Neo-traditional consumption space or controlled village commons?

Karina Landman


Recent debates have highlighted trends towards the privatisation of public space and the incorporation of increased security measures to safeguard users. Literature has also emphasised the move away from the traditional high street to suburban shopping malls as part of an increased focus on the development of protected consumption space. As public space continuously evolves, it is interesting to find the emergence of a new type of controlled outdoor space that seems to reflect characteristics of older traditional public spaces acting as a local gathering space in suburbia, yet being very controlled within the boundaries of shopping malls and reflecting strong patterns of consumption. The paper investigates this trend within the capital city of South Africa, Pretoria, focusing on three quasi-public spaces. The findings indicate that urban design continues to play a critical role in the incorporation of characteristics that are traditionally associated with successful public spaces, but with a strong emphasis on consumption in a controlled and secure environment. At the same time, however, these spaces have also become a new type of village commons in an increasingly polarised society and, hence, cannot simply be negated as purely exclusive spaces.

Keywords: Consumption spaces, Pretoria, quasi-public spaces, shopping malls