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Yeoville Studio -- School of Architecture and Planning

Yeoville Studio

Yeoville Studio is a research and learning initiative driven  a collaboration between the Wits School of Architecture and Planning and several community partners. It aims to produce research that is relevant, useful and of interest to the Yeoville community.


Claire Benit-Gbaffou (Wits)

Ph:011 717 7718



Maurice Smithers  (YBCDT)

Ph: 082 373 7705



George Lebone (YSF)

Ph: 079 389 4409


This site is a narrative and 'flowing ' account of the work Yeoville Studio has produced over the last two years, rather than only a list of our resources. Explore the site, and if you're interested in something, just click on the bold blue link to open up the document! Click the 'back' button at any time to take you back to this home page. To download the Yeoville Studio theses and more formal reports, go to our LibGuide Archive. 

Yeoville Stories   

Public Spaces  

African Diversity 


Teaching and Research

Community Workshops   

Media Outputs   

Civic Engagement

Public Events



Students and staff from Wits University, School of Architecture and Planning , built a partnership with Yeoville Stakeholders Forum (YSF), the Yeoville Bellevue Community Development Trust (YBCDT), and the SA National Traders Retailers Alliance (SANTRA) about what it means to live in Yeoville, how residents could have more say in their environment, what are local issues that matter to people, and how to think about possible responses to these issues.
Other partners in the initiative are the the Goethe Institute of South Africa and the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS)


The 4 following themes were identified with civic leaders, in public meetings and with Wits staff:

1. Yeoville stories - What does Yeoville mean for you?
2. Public spaces - Eating, playing and trading? How are our spaces (streets, yards, buildings?) used and shared?vi
3. African diversity - How to celebrate it so as to make a better Yeoville (business opportunities/ cultural richness)?
4. Housing- How to understand the complexities of finding a place, managing housing, working together to address the issues? 

The project itself ran from January 2010 - December 2011, where a huge quantity of new research was generated. The first half of 2012 will see much of the research being consolidated in the form of a book, pamphlets and other outputs, and a general rounding off of activities.


  • Teaching and Research (Wits students and staff in conjunction with residents) on various topics and spaces in Yeoville, pertaining to the 4 themes of the project. This involves different levels of study (from 2nd year to Masters); collective (class) or individual research. 
  • Community workshops- to define topics and expected outputs; to collect stories and start engagement; to present and debate findings.
  • Media outputsa local newspaper delivered door-to-door (Yeovue News), internet, and broad-based academic outputs.
  • Public events – Participation in public events from Yeoville street festivals to Joburg City participatory workshops, to academic seminars. 
  • Negotiation and activism with other parties, such as the City of Joburg's Deptartment of Local Economic Development or traders' coalitions.

What for?

Over the two years of operation an impressive amount was achieved, both in the academic and the community spheres. See full list here.

Academic outcomes (teaching/ research)  

Training students to work with residents and communities in their future specialization
Creating urban design/ urban management models adapted to local specificities

'Urban lab' type of experience - multi-disciplinary research focus on a very local space

Producing more formal research outputs for dissemination in the broader academic community, including two books to be released by the Studio early 2013

And not least, showing Wits researchers and students the potential of their research to have real practical use in their local area/ community.

Community outcomes

  • Workshops to empower residents to perceive and imagine their neighbourhood differently, exploring ideas for policy/planning/design solutions to local challenges (cf. participatory trading stalls design; and photography workshops exploring the representation of streetlife as commented by Natal/ Saunders St residents)
  • At the South African City Studies Conference in September 2011, Yeoville Studio presented on the politics of community engagement, using the Studio's work with informal traders as a case study.