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Former affiliates

Emeritus Professor Alan Mabin

Alan Mabin is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits and is a long-serving member of the CUBES advisory board.  Together with others he co-founded Planact in 1985.  Working with three colleagues in the then-departments of architecture and of town planning, Alan established the predecessor of CUBES (then named Centre for Development and Built Environment) in 1995.  He directed CUBES between 2005 and 2010, and retired from Wits at the end of 2013. Alan holds degrees from Wits and from Simon Fraser University, Canada.  His research explores a wide range and diverse scales of urban subjects, and he has participated in several CUBES projects.  His recent publications can be seen at www.alanmabin.org

Dr Solam Mkhabela

Solam Mkhabela was educated at Waterford Kamhlaba, UWCSA, the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, The Cooper Union, New York and the University of Cape Town. He holds a BAS degree in Architecture (UCT) and a Masters Degree of City Planning and Urban Design (UCT). In 2002 he co-founded blacklinesonwhitepaper, a design collaborative recognized through invitation to international events like the Rotterdam Biennale of Architecture, Cologne Plan5, the Ordos project in China, African Perspectives in Casablanca and winning competition entries. Solam has also served as an urban design consultant for the Inner City Transport Study in Johannesburg and for SHIFT's professional task team’s guidelines for neighbourhood development and informal settlements upgrading. Solam coordinated the Braamfontein City Studio in 2016.

Prof. Christoph Haferburg

Profile imageChristoph Haferburg has a background in urban, political and social geography. His doctoral thesis at the University of Hamburg focussed on (de)segregation in Cape Town. At the University of Erlangen, a study on urban governance in South Africa (in the context of mega-events and beyond) constituted his post-doctoral qualification. Recent projects focus on sustainable urban mobility, and on urban development through a socio-political lens. Christoph Haferburg is based at the University of Hamburg and has been teaching inter alia at the Universities of the Western Cape, Erlangen, Bayreuth, FU Berlin, Wits – with an affiliation to the last as a Visiting Associate Professor since 2013.

André da Vila

Profile picAndré is a master’s student in metropolitan governance from Sciences Po Paris, who is interested in researching the use of public-private partnership as instruments to govern informality in the context of urban regeneration projects. He did his fieldwork in Johannesburg for studying the role of City Improvement Districts in the governance of street trade. He also has experience working in a policy analysis consultancy, in the São Paulo state government, in Brazil, and in the evaluation of urban waterfront projects in India.

Email: andrealmeidadavila@gmail.com

Katrin Hofer

Profile imageKatrin Hofer is a PhD Candidate at the Spatial Development and Urban Policy Research group, ETH Zurich, Switzerland. During her research stay at CUBES, she conducted research for her dissertation project, which explores people’s perspective of public participation in local infrastructure and housing provision in urban South Africa. Building on an in-depth case study analysis, she conducted group interviews with residents of a low-income residential area in Johannesburg, as well as expert interviews with local leaders and city officials.

Polly Winfield

Profile imagePolly Winfield is an ESRC-funded doctoral researcher at the University of Bath and Researcher on the Horizon-2020 project Disputed Territories and Memory (DisTerrMem). Looking to interdisciplinary frameworks, her PhD research employs a participatory methodology to explore the ways in which discourses of Apartheid and transition can be (re)produced, recognised or resisted through artistic and spatial representations in Johannesburg, South Africa. Most recently, she has been Teaching Assistant at the University of Bath and Associate Lecturer at the University of Exeter.

Lakshmi Gangamreddypalli 

profile imageLakshmi Gangamreddypalli is a Master in City Planning student in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Her studies focus on governance, policy, service delivery and infrastructure development in the Global South, particularly in India. Prior to graduate studies, as an architect and urban practitioner, she worked in the areas of urban informality, low-income housing, construction technology for self-build housing, and vernacular architecture and design. During her research internship at CUBES in 2022, she studied the blockages in implementation of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme in Slovo Park through an analysis of the Slovo Park Task Team meetings’ minutes.    

Dr Raffael Beier

Profile imageRaffael Beier is a postdoctoral researcher who works on housing, displacement, and resettlement. Trained as an urban geographer in Grenoble and Bochum, he holds a joint-PhD from the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, The Netherlands, and Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. During his stay at CUBES, he worked on his recently published edited volume “Urban Resettlements in the Global South” (2022, Routledge) and did research on people who rent out or sell their ‘RDP houses’ in Gauteng. 

Dr Margot Rubin

Margot Rubin is a lecturer in Spatial Planning at the School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University. At Wits University, she is affiliated to Chair on City Planning and Spatial Analysis as a visiting lecturer at the School of Architecture and Planning, and a research associate with the Gauteng City Region Observatory. She worked as a researcher at CUBES 2006-2009 and has continued to collaborate on numerous projects, including Practices of the State in Urban Governance, the Informal Practices of the State and most recently on RDP housing transactions. She is co-editor of Densifying the City? Global Cases and Johannesburg and Housing in African cities: a lens on urban governance (Edward Elgar,2020).

Her research focuses on housing and urban governance in the Global South. She has been writing about inner-city regeneration and housing policy, and is currently engaged in work around just urban transitions, mobility and issues of gender and the city.

Dr Temba John Dawson Middelmann

profile imageTemba Middelmann is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of the Western Cape on the Off-grid Cities project. His research interests include energy transitions, public space, local histories, social cohesion and contestation. He completed his PhD at Wits SoAP on public space and spatial justice, furthering his public space research and writing during a postdoctoral research position at CUBES. Currently based in Canada, Temba is continuing research and writing as well as his visual art through painting, drawing, photography and land art. 


Dr Lené Le Roux

Profile imageDr Lené le Roux works in the City of Oklahoma City Planning Department, in the United States, as an associate planner in the Housing and Community Development Division. She holds a PhD in (urban) Geography from the University of Oklahoma, with a Masters Degree in the Built Environment (Housing), and a Professional Degree in Town and Regional Planning from the University of Pretoria (UP). Lené was an intern at CUBES throughout 2020 while conducting her doctoral research in Jo'burg. She assisted with the Faces of the City Seminar Series, which had to be taken online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She also assisted with CUBES with compiling research that students had carried out on homelessness. My doctoral research was on understanding the configurations of placemaking and place theory in southern cities, by researching the everyday logics, practices and urban systems of car guards, street vendors and security guards as people who live and work on the streets of Jo'burg. 

Dr Jeanne Bouyat

Profile imageJeanne Bouyat was first accommodated as a research intern at CUBES in 2015 while she was conducting her Master's research on attitudes towards foreignness among high school learners attending low-income schools in Johannesburg, during which she assisted with updating the PSUG website and coorganising events. During her PhD, she dedicated herself to exploring forms of xenophobia and anti-xenophobia in the schooling institution with a focus on low-income high schools in Johannesburg. She was a member of the PSUG research group between 2016 and 2019, and was regularly hosted as a visiting researcher at CUBES. As of 2023, she is a postdoc at the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation (CERT) at the University of Johannesburg, after a period as a postdoc at the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR) at the University of Oxford. 

Professor Astrid Ley

Profile imageAstrid Ley is Professor for International Urbanism and course director of the master program Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design (IUSD) at University of Stuttgart. Before she was urban researcher and lecturer at Habitat Unit, TU Berlin and responsible for the cooperation with Wits. She presented at various Faces of the City seminars her research on housing and urban governance. In 2006 CUBES hosted her during her PhD research and with an urban design studio in Bertrams. In 2010 she was visiting researcher at Wits actively involved with the Yeoville Studio. In 2012 she was also involved at CUBES supporting the fundraising and the conceptualizing of its relaunch. 


Newsha Salari

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Newsha 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 Sept-Nov 2024, Newsha was hosted in CUBES as visiting doctoral students CUBES, allowing her to expand her understanding of SDGs and slum upgrading.