Centre for Urbanism & Built Environment Studies

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Members/affiliates based as academic staff at Wits University

Prof. Marie Huchzermeyer

Professor Marie HuchzermeyerMarie Huchzermeyer joined the School of Architecture and Planning in 2001, convening masters in housing. She remains involved in what is now the MUS with a dedicated field in Housing and Human Settlements. Her research is on rights (including the right to the city and the right to development), politics and policy in relation to housing and informal settlements, primarily in South Africa, Brazil and Kenya with south-south and north-south comparisons. Her involvement in CUBES over two decades includes directorship from 2015-2017 and again as of 2022. She has long accompanied the leadership structures of two informal settlements, Harry Gwala in Wattville near Benoni (Ekruhuleni Metropolitan Municipality) (with Kristen Kornienko) and Slovo Park south of Soweto (Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality) (with Neil Klug). She is a PI on the Wits-TUB-UNILAG Urban Lab. Through her base in CUBES, Marie has engaged in policy debates and networks nationally, regionally and globally.

Associate Prof. Sarah Charlton

Associate Professor Sarah Charltonprofile picture Sarah Charlton directed CUBES in 2013/ 2014, in 2018 (with Claire Benit-Gbaffou), and was also Associate Director in 2019 and 2020. She has been in the School of Architecture & Planning at Wits since 2003. Prior to that she worked for eThekwini municipality and for the non-profit organisation Built Environment Support Group (BESG), in low-income housing policy and practice, informal settlement upgrading and related development issues. Her research areas include the interface between urban infrastructure and people’s practices, state development initiatives and matters of governance. She has a long-standing collaboration with colleagues at the University of Sheffield, and joint research has included work on housing, youth and mobility with partner organisations in Mozambique and Ethiopia. She is a Research Associate of the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies at Wits and serves on the boards of African Studies, International Development Planning Review, and the International Journal on Homelessness.

Prof. Mfaniseni Fana Sihlongonyane

profile image Professor Mfaniseni Fana SihlongonyaneMfaniseni Fana Sihlongonyane was appointed lecturer in the Planning Programme (department then) in 1996. He is currently a Professor of Development Planning and Urban Studies. He is the director of the Planning Programme, a chairperson of the Committee of Heads of Planning Schools (CHoPS), a board member of the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) and a member of the South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN). He has been a member of Gauteng Development Tribunal and has worked with various communities in the country. Fana is the first PI on the Wits-TUB-UNILAG Urban Lab and he has been serving on the CUBES Steering Committee for several years. His main research interests include: African city and African Urbanisms, African Political economy, Dynamics of Globalisation and Local Economic development, Urban change and the political and cultural economy, Traditional Leadership, theories and Discourses of Urbanisation.

Dr Sarita Pillay Gonzalez

Profile pic Sarita Pillay GonzalezSarita Pillay Gonzalez is currently a lecturer in Human Geography at the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies (GAES) at Wits. Sarita completed her PhD in 2021 through the School of Architecture & Planning (SoAP) at Wits, undertaking fieldwork in Johannesburg and Bangalore. Her research interests in real estate development and the multifarity of the state in the built environment were inspired by her time as a researcher, community organiser and popular educator in affordable housing campaigns in Cape Town from 2016 to 2018. Prior to this, as a Fulbright scholar, Sarita received her Masters in Urban & Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota focused on Spatial Justice & the Political Economy.

Dr Neil Klug

Neil Klug is a 80% academic in the School of Architecture & Planning at Wits and 20% planning practitioner with his own planning consultancy. This enables him to bring practice experience into the classroom and gain theoretical knowledge that informs his practice. His research interests include spatial planning frameworks, Land Use Management Systems, land management on the periphery of cities, and informal settlement upgrading. In CUBES, he has accompanied the leadership of the Slovo Park informal settlement in Johannesburg with Marie Huchzermeyer since 2016 and reflects on this in a part of his PhD study.

Nqobile Malaza

Nqobile Malaza is a lecturer in urban environmental interpretation and planning theory and philosophy in the School of Architecture & Planning and a full-time PhD candidate. She is interested in gendered planning, professional ethics and philosophy, the role of development economics in planning, spatial planning theory and spatial justice, and identity and the city. 

Dr Mawabo Msingaphantsi

Mawabo MsingaphantsiProfile image is a town planner and urban designer who teaches in studios on site analysis, township layout, planning theory and design technologies. His PhD research, titled “Why do people walk on this street”, developed a statistical model for describing imageability and using urban design qualities to predict pedestrian volumes on a street. His current research looks at how land cover and kriging in GIS can be used to determine locations for intermodal transport hubs around Gautrain stations.

Brigitta Stone-Johnson

Profile imageBrigitta Stone-Johnson  is an Architect, Fine artist who lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has been a lecturer and creative practice researcher at the Wits School of Architecture since 2016. Her research is located in Environmental Humanities and emphasises Posthumanities and New Materialism. Her PhD entitled 'The Botany of Stone', focuses on stone as a vibrant social material in the post-extractive urban terrains of Johannesburg. Her PhD research and creative practice consider vital materiality and the Anthropocene through collaborations with more than human oddkin, such as local stone, tar, rubble and plastic, in post-extractive urban terrains.

Kirsten Dörmann

Kirsten Doermann was educated in Germany, RWTH Aachen, Switzerland, ETH Zürich and the Netherlands, Berlage Institute. She graduated from Aachen with a professional degree in architecture (Dipl. Ing), and from Amsterdam in 1998 with a postgraduate Master in Architecture. After working for the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, she joined Wits in 2008 as design lecturer in the School of Architecture & Planning. The projects she has been part of have been dealing with issues of housing in changing sub/urban contexts, migration and the perception of the city. Kirsten ran the Rosettenville Studio in 2014. This area is also the base of her ongoing PhD study on housing transformation, which she captures under the concept of ‘compounding’.



Dr Priscila Izar

Profile pic Priscila IzarPriscila Izar is currently a Centennial Postdoctoral Fellow hosted by CUBES and the University of Sheffield, UK. Her research work and interest lie at the intersection of gender, housing self-building, peripheral urbanisation, and urban policy. She is co-organizer of the upcoming seminar series “Feminising urban struggle: bodies, territories and politics in women’s production and reproduction of peripheral spaces.” Between 2021-22, through an Urban Studies Foundation’s International Fellowship, Priscila authored journal articles and book chapters about housing self-building and peripheries, based on the case of Dar es Salaam. Previously, as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Ardhi University, Tanzania, she coordinated the Dar es Salaam City Lab, an action research platform investigating the city’s everyday urbanization. Priscila holds a PhD in Planning, Governance and Globalization from Virginia Tech, USA. She represents CUBES at the Habitat International Coalition’s Women Habitat Africa Working Group.

Dr Paulo Moreira

Paulo Moreira has been awarded a Centennial Postdoctoral Fellowship from Wits University, which he will take up in February 2024. He graduated in Architecture from the Faculty of Architecture, University of Porto (Portugal), having studied also at the Accademia di architettura di Mendrisio (Switzerland), and received his doctorate from London Metropolitan University (UK). Before joining CUBES at Wits, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Architecture, University of Lisbon.

In 2011, Moreira founded paulo moreira architectures, a practice deeply engaged in working in contexts of urban conflict and social deprivation. With his work on informal communities in Angola, he was a finalist in the 2019 RIBA President’s Award for Research, Cities & Community category, and a recipient of the 2021 Grant to Individuals – Graham Foundation. Moreira edited ‘Critical Neighbourhoods – The Architecture of Contested Communities’ (Park Books, 2022).



Newsha Salari

Profile imageNewsha Salari is a Doctoral researcher at the La Salle School of Architecture, University of Ramon Llull in Barcelona, with a strong interest in sustainable slum upgrading, sustainability, and SDGs. Currently, Newsha is working on prioritizing the SDG based on the people’s participation in slum communities, with a goal to contribute to the development of more sustainable and equitable urban environments. In September, Newsha will be coming for the doctoral visiting stay at CUBES, where she aims to expand her understanding of SDGs and slum upgrading.