Home Projects Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, South Africa


Alexandra Urban Renewal Modular Building Project




Alexandra was originally established in 1904 as a white residential area. Because of its distance from the industrial areas of Johannesburg at the time, it stayed unpopulated. In 1912 Alexandra was declared a “Native Township” and became one of the few areas were black inhabitants could own land under freehold titles in urban areas. Over the years Alexandra flourished as a community and a strong pool of labor. In 1948 under the apartheid government, actions were made to reduce the population size. The concept of removing the township was never raised because of its value as a labor force. In 1960 the government tried turning Alexandra into a hostel city to easily house the work force but the plan was stopped in its early stages for lack of alternate housing during the project and several other managerial flaws. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the government has proposed many plans for redevelopment of Alexandra, to date none of them have been successful owing to a consistent lack of alternate housing, and insufficient steps taken to build proper housing accommodations.


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Alexandra has always been an important pool of labor and is located very near many important and industrial work zones creating a high factor of potential for strong social economical development inside the township. Alexandra is located in region seven of Johannesburg in the North-Eastern section of the Municipality of the City.

  • It is located only 3km from Sandton, the financial heart of Johannesburg.
  • It borders the industrial areas of Wynberg.
  • Located very close to the Limbro Business Park, where large parts of the city’s high-tech and service sector is based.
  • Alexandra is also very near to Bruma Commercial Park and the East-Gate Shopping Centre.
  • Two of the main feeder roads into Johannesburg (N3 and M1) pass through the vicinity of Alexandra giving the potential to link Alexandra with commercial and industrial areas.



  • Alexandra’s population is mainly black (87%), while white (11%), Indian (1%) and coloured (1%) form small minorities.
  • Alexandra’s population is very young: most of the population is in the age group 17-35, and 70% are under 35 with an overall average age of 23 years. This is partially due to the relatively high turnover of people, but also to the high incidence of crime and disease.
  • Alexandra has an estimated population of 350,000 (unofficial estimates even go as high as 700,000).
  • The population density is of around 45,000 people per square kilometre, 100 times the average population density of Gauteng. In some areas of Old Alexandra, population density reaches peaks of 770 people per hectare (81,000 per square km).


Local Income:

  • There are no precise and absolute figures on unemployment rates in Alexandra related to the high turnover of people and the lack of conducting surveys in informal settlements.
  • Official figures report 32% unemployment, while unofficial figures report a rate closer to 60%, almost triple that of Gauteng’s average of 21%.
  • Official figures show unemployment to be much more widespread among women (40%) than men (19%)



The area of Alexandra has become is prime location for development using modular technology. The population in Alexandra is relatively young with the average age being 23. Additionally as stated above in the statistics the area of Alexandra is over populated due to the rush of unemployed looking for jobs. Though Alexandra is in prime location being within an easy commute to several very large industrial and commercial areas as well as having two of the major highways run through it unemployment still runs rampant. Approximate 50% of Alexandra’s population lives in informal dwellings or shacks. Lifestyles in such dwellings have shown direct impact of the economic and social standings of a community:

  • Informal dwellings/shacks have serious sanitation repercussions on the inhabitants which lead to easy spread of disease.
  • A common psychological factor involved with bad living conditions is a disconnection of hope that becomes rampant in younger generations, “…absence of meaningful involvement and employment opportunities in the foreseeable future…”
  • The bad living situation in Alexandra has also lead to a high incidence rate of crime.


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Map of Alexandra Township


Aeriel Photography of Alexandra Township



A housing solution has been created by FC that would enable individuals and families living in shacks to be able to move in apartments. Crating a safer living enviroment for the inhabitants of Alexandra. For more information, and to get involved with this project, please e-mail Nathaniel Persky at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .




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