Spatial Analysis and City Planning

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Our Beginnings: 2010-2015

The South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning is an NRF funded research chair situated in the School of Architecture and Planning seeks to understand and explore these questions. The Chair was established in 2010 under the name of the South Africa Research Chair in Development Planning and Modelling and in its first five years attempted to respond to the challenges of rapid urbanisation in the global South, and especially to the development of large and complex city-regions that pose considerable dilemmas for planning and urban management. The primary objective of the research was to support, develop and promote forms of development planning that will contribute to making cities in poor and middle-income countries more liveable, sustainable, efficient and equitable. Other objectives of the research included: contributions to local and international scholarship, the mentorship of emerging scholars, the development of research partnerships with agencies in the public and private sectors, and the bridging of the theory-practice divide.

In satisfying this mandate over the first five years the Chair undertook a number of projects such as:

  • Spatial Change in the City of Johannesburg (which resulted in the production of a significant book as a collaboration with Professor Todes, Graeme Gotz and Chris Wray)
  • Resilience Assessment for Municipalities (funded by the Department of Science and Technology as part of its Grand Challenge on Global Change and conducted as a partnership with senior academics in the School of Architecture and Planning, the School of Law and the GCRO, and also with the The Agence Française de Développement - AFD)
  • The Peripheries of the Gauteng City-Region (jointly with the GCRO)
  • Spatial modelling
  • Alternative Formalities, Transnationalism and Xenophobia in Inner City Johannesburg (a trans-disciplinary project co-ordinated jointly by the SoAP HOS, the Chair and CUBES)
  • Mining and Human Settlement in the Platinum Belt (with support from SWOP)

Direct contributions to policy development were the result of the Chair’s membership of: the National Planning Commission; the Panel of Experts for the formulation of the (national) Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF); and the Carnegie Think Tank on Poverty and Inequality. In addition, the project on urban resilience involved a partnership with metropolitan government and the research outcomes of the project have been distributed to municipalities across the country.