English: Confusing usage of terms such as metropolis and metropolitan region in planning
policy in South Africa has led to the need for a fundamental investigation into the
morphological and functional properties of the country’s three largest cities. Using
Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban as examples, the article distinguishes between
different elements of functionality of metropolitan areas linking urban function
to urban form. Starting at the global level and zooming in, the article examines
metropolitan functional space at the national through the regional to the local level.
Semantically, it distinguishes between the terms metropolis and megalopolis; daily
and weekly urban systems; and between urban monocentricism, multinodality
and polycentricism. Based on morphological differences, it classifies Cape Town,
Durban, Pretoria and the Witwatersrand as metropolitan areas, but regards the
sprawled urban agglomeration in Gauteng as a megalopolis. A case is also made
for greater recognition of the daily urban regions of the three primary cities of South
Africa as part of the larger urban system of each. Planning has focused for too long
on metropolitan space inside the urban edge and too little on those parts of the cities
that lie outside the edge.