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Centre for Urbanism & Built Environment Studies

The Centre for Urbanism and Built Environment Studies (CUBES) is a platform for urban research, learning and civic engagement located in the School of Architecture and Planning.







The exhibition of Mark Lewis’s photographs ‘Edge City’ displayed at SACS2020 can be found here along with the programme and other conference information. 

CUBES leads research that considers how urban citizens and marginalised people are affected by the material realities of cities, built environments at different scales, access to urban goods and spaces, and contestations over urban physical and political orders. CUBES values critical reflection on existing practices of development planning and architecture.  

2021 Bulletin

Assoc Prof Sarah Charlton comments on why people live rough in parks, in Mark Heywood’s article on the fencing of Albert Farm Conservancy.

In this podcast from Chai FM, Assoc Prof Sarah Charlton, Harriet Perlman, and Chris Lund discuss the critical and complex issue of street homelessness in Johannesburg.

Harriet Perlman and Sarah Charlton write on misconceptions and realities of homelessness in Johannesburg, Down and out in Johannesburg – understanding homelessness

Assoc. Prof. Sarah Charlton discusses the background to current research on mobility by Wits and Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, a project funded by the Volvo Foundation entitled 'Micro-dynamics and Macro-processes' which is focused on how transport infrastructure is used by residents, and how these everyday experiences relate to government transport plans and policies in each location.

2020 Bulletin

Assoc Prof. Sarah Charlton comments on the national government plans to shift from delivering houses to allocating land for self-build

CUBES endorses significant comments  submitted by a group of organisations in Nov 2020 in response to the draft Gauteng Townships Economy Bill.

Dr Hlonophile Simelane writes on women’s struggle to own land in this article in the Mail and Guardian..

Dr Tsepang Leuta writes in The Conversation on the very interesting issue of how ‘Cemetery design has to consider many sensitive issues: lessons from Johannesburg’

We are delighted that PhD candidate Simon Mayson is one of two people awarded the Canon Collins Scholars' Scholar award. Simon is undertaking action research directed towards enabling a Wellbeing Economy in ‘Makers Valley’, inner city Johannesburg, and he and fellow awardee Zoe Postman are complimented for ‘breaking the mould, going beyond stereotypes in their work and fields’.  Simon’s supervisors are Prof. Marie Huchzermeyer and Prof. Sarah Charlton.

SERI held a webinar on 30 July 2020 reflecting on the Slovo Park informal settlement upgrading process. Neil Klug and Marie Huchzermeyer who have long been involved in this process participated alongside Nomzamo Zondo from SERI, Lerato Marole from the community forum, and Jacquie Culyer from 1to1.

Ngaka Mosiane, Mamokete Matjomane, and Avhatakali Sithagu have published a short article on ‘categorising South Africa’s resilient urbanisms’ in Urbanet.

Our visiting scholar Kristen Kornienko is part of this very interesting initiative in Kliptown.

Dr Hloniphile Simelane writes on how local government can better involve residents of informal settlements.

Prof. Marie Huchzermeyer contributes in a discussion about the COVID-19 informal settlement de-densification plans in South Africa, moderated by SoAP alumnus Edward Molopi (research and advocacy officer at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa – SERI), and hosted by The Forge, a pan-African progressive cultural venue in Braamfontein. View here.

In 2020 CUBES is delighted to be working with colleagues at Wits (SA&CP and GCRO) and at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, on the research project Micro-dynamics and Macro-processes: a Maputo-Johannesburg comparative study of intra-household decision-making and state-investment in transit, which forms part of the Mobility in Africa theme of the Volvo Foundation

CUBES is very excited to be partnering with colleagues at the University of Sheffield, UK and at Hawassa University, Ethiopia, on the British-Academy funded Youth Futures project, Youth and the work/housing nexus in Ethiopia and South Africa

Marie Huchzermeyer and Jethron Ayumbah Akallah discuss the Covid 19 situation in informal settlements in Kenya and South Africa in the Urban Political series (May 2020).

Sarah Charlton, Margot Rubin and Rob McGaffin discuss backyarding in South Africa, Episode 22 of the Talking Transformation series (April 2020)

Kristen Kornienko collaborates with residents in Kliptown on steps to establish a community radio station and strategies to combat the spread of Covid-19 in the community.

Colleagues from Dar es Salaam write on the Coronavirus and the urban poor in sub-Saharan Africa (May 2020)

Marie Huchzermeyer writes in Newframe on what the lockdown means for informal settlements (April 2020)

Click below to read more about current and past research, projects, training and publications within CUBES.