The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the social, spatial and environmental inequalities that exist in our society and in our cities, especially so in South Africa. As architects we need to seize this opportunity to reinstate the importance of design thinking, not as a nice-to-have, but as an essential component of creating responsive and appropriate architecture. Our special skill is to translate issues and ideas into built form through the design process. How will the pandemic shape the future of urban design and architectural thinking and practices?
To address this question, The School of Architecture and Spatial Design at STADIO, Open Architecture and the Architectural Education Forum Africa decided to collaborate in a series of five online discussions titled, 'POST-COVID-19 PERSPECTIVES FOR ARCHITECTURE IN SOUTH AFRICA'.

These are the recordings of the five sessions.

How has COVID-19 impacted the city and how we address urban development? 7th October 2020

Perspective 1

Chair: Lone Poulsen

Lone Poulsen holds a Bachelor of Architecture and a Masters in Town and Regional Planning from the University of Natal, Durban. She practiced and taught in Durban until 1991 when she joined the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits University. Lone played an academic and leadership role at Wits serving as Assistant Dean for the Built Environment disciplines and Director of the Architecture Programme. Lone was appointed Programme Director for the SAIA initiated OpenArchitecture programme in 2013.

Lone has published widely and been a consultant to the City of Johannesburg, the Gauteng and National Department of Human Settlements, the National Association of Social Housing Organisations (NASHO) and various residents association. She has served on the judging panels of architectural and urban design competitions, adjudicated the Institute of Architects Merit Awards in RSA and in Zimbabwe and been external examiner and external critic for architectural, urban design, housing and planning courses at a number of universities


Rehana Moosajee
The Barefoot Facilitator

Rehana is the founder and owner of The Barefoot Facilitator - a company committed to transforming the way in which we relate to ourselves, space and planet. Rehana holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Wits University. She has been a community activist and a city councillor in the City of Johannesburg. She led the team that delivered Rea Vaya. In February 2013 - she resigned from her position as Member of the Mayoral Committee - to pursue her passion for transformation and unity.

Perspective: The inner architecture of the built environment professional - a springboard for transformation?
The presentation will focus on the importance of the built environment professional being in connection with self and nature - conscious of the impact that rapidly urbanising environments are having on the inner state of those who rush through them. Covid19 has revealed the deep inequalities and spatial injustices inherent in SA cities. We have the opportunity to truly transform how we meet and interact with each other in public space and to respond creatively to the needs of those who are severely stressed through the state of the built environment.

Richard Ballard
Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO)

Since 2015, Richard Ballard has been employed in the position of Principal Researcher at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory. His academic training is in Human Geography and Development Studies. He conducts research on various aspects of urban transformation including race and class segregation and desegregation, state housing policy and private developers.

Perspective: 6 Spatial Trends in Gauteng
The Gauteng City Region is growing at a rapid pace and the presentation focuses on 6 spatial trends which impact the way in which the City-region is developing through: population growth; the conversion of land from non-urban land use to urban uses; increasing and uneven population densities; increasing residential development; diverse residential settlement patterns and increasing economic inequality.


Geci Karuri-Sebina
SACN, ACC, Wits School of Governance,

Geci works in several capacities working at what she now realises is the intersection between people, place and technological change, focusing on the global south. She is currently an Associate with South African Cities Network; an Adjunct Professor at the University of Cape Town’s African Centre for Cities; a Visiting Research Fellow at the Wits School of Governance; a global faculty member of Singularity University; and a curator in The Emergence Network. She is also involved in writing and editorial roles for a few international futures, innovation and planning publications.

She holds Bachelors degrees in Computer Science and Sociology (Coe), Masters degrees in Architecture & Urban Design and Urban Planning (UCLA), and a PhD in Urban Planning / Innovation Systems Studies (Wits)

Previously, Geci worked with South African Cities Network, National Treasury, HSRC, the CSIR, and the UCLA Advanced Policy Institute. Geci also served as a panellist on the Ministerial Task Team on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an expert advisor on the Presidential Task team on Land Reform, the South African Council of Planners (SACPLAN), and the Johannesburg Development Agency board.

Perspective: UnVisioning our Cities: [Re]thinking the roles of BE Professionals?
While COVID has brought on many changes and uncertainties, it has also been argued that the pandemic has largely exposed ongoing challenges and shortcomings in our societies and systems. Similarly, the call for urban transformation – spatial and otherwise – in South Africa may have come into more vivid and urgent focus now, but is hardly new given the long-standing socio-economic and spatial inequalities of our cities and development trends. Could it be that more-than-COVIDian shifts are possibly required in how we have thought about and practiced urban development? This presentation shares some old and new ideas about how we might begin to re-think our roles as built environment professionals within this context.


How has COVID-19 impacted urban design and how we live, work and play? 14th October 2020

Perspective 2

Chair: Mphethi Morojele
MMA Design Studio

Mphethi Morojele is owner and founder of the MMA Design Studio, an award-winning architecture and design studio based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The practice has collaborated to produce some of the most iconic and culturally important projects in South Africa and continues to expand its portfolio on the continent with seminal projects in Ethiopia, Uganda, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho and Burundi. He has emerged as one of the most important voices in architecture in Africa celebrated by Archdaily as one of the “seven architects designing a diverse future in Africa.”
Mphethi has lectured at the School of Architecture, University of Witwatersrand, the Graduate School of Architecture, both in Johannesburg and is a design critic at most of South Africa’s schools of Architecture. In addition, he has curated many exhibitions on African architecture including for the South African National pavilion at the Venice Biennale in Italy and at the Royal Institute of British Architects Summer Season in London. Mphethi was a member of the Scientific Committee of the 2014 UIA congress in Durban and he continues to serve on many international juries including for the Union of International Architects (UIA), the European Union, the Holcim International foundation, The African Architecture Awards, and the Architecture Masterprize to name a few.


Khalied Jacobs
Jakupa Architects and Urban Designers

Khalied practices as an urban designer and is a founding director of Jakupa Architects and Urban Designers. He is past-chairman of UDISA, past-secretary general of SABTACO and is currently the chairman of SAPOA-Western Cape. Khalied’s primary interest is in the humanist ideals of city making

Perspective: COVID-19: designing the agile city through crisis
COVID-19 has had a profound effect on how we have used the city during the intense periods of lockdown and it’s undeniable that the dramatic impact of the virus has put a glaring spotlight on the bewildering range of local urban challenges. Lifting our heads to see the bigger picture though begs the question: is this crisis a distraction to the progressive urban project and have other crises like Day Zero, level 6 loadshedding and the pandemic of homelessness fundamentally change the making of our cities? Some cities across the globe have experimented with adjusting patterns of public space usage such as implementing urban space upgrades or the inclusion of infrastructure that supports pedestrian mobility. South African cities however, have tended to miss the opportunity to correct spatial imbalances and injustices or simply improving the quality of living environments. The extent to which the change in behaviour will endure without a conscious [designed] intent to entrench the benefits of behaviour change remains to be seen. This presentation will sketch a view of the local urban challenge within COVID times as a framework for appropriate action.


Katie Ewing
Urban Design Programme, UCT
Kathryn Ewing is a Senior Lecturer and Convener of the Urban Design Programme at the University of Cape Town. Kathryn has architectural, urban design, planning and research experience working through a multidisciplinary approach in Southern Africa. She is currently a non-executive Director of VPUU. Kathryn’s work focuses on safe cities, participative design and public space, building on lessons from design practice in African cities.

Perspective: Foreground / Background: Disruption in design during a time of crisis
How do we design in a time of uncertainty? It is a significant time for the urban design profession to radically review and question the injustices of the past to create safe spaces in our city for now and the future. The presentation offers three spatial frames in the COVID-19 landscape. Firstly, spaces of practice – remarking on some strategic, and transformative projects as lessons for incremental area-based development, taking into consideration the sense of the whole and the individual parts. Secondly, spaces of exchange –revealing the social function and production of land within the extraordinary micro-spaces of the city. Thirdly, spaces of learning – rethinking open curriculum and accessible pedagogy related to spatial education in today’s digital world and co-creating beyond the academy.  


Solam Mkhabela
School of Architecture & Planning, Wits University

Born in Swaziland. Solam holds a BAS in Architecture and a Masters in City Planning and Urban Design from UCT.  Educated at Waterford Kamhlaba UWC, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston and the Cooper Union NYC, where he worked for Michael Sorkin Studio from 1992—96.  Upon his return to South Africa, he was a presenter on YFM 99.2 Radio Station and worked on the production of film. Currently he is a lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, School of Architecture and Planning.  In the process of completing his PhD on Urban Scripting, the inclusion of audio-visual storytelling in urban design processes.

Perspective: City inside out: The re-shaping of an urban design studio, 03-06-2020
The current condition defined as “lockdown,” “self-isolation,” and “quarantine” forces us to abandon the idea of exploring public places such as streets and physical engagement with people outside of our immediate domestic context.  As a result, we will shift our attention to the interior that we have been asked to retreat to, take a journey around our respective rooms to ultimately meet ourselves in newly defined distances, and explore limits of access. 

How has COVID-19 impacted how we create responsive architecture?  21st October 2020

Perspective 2

Chair: Kevin Bingham
FGG Architects

Kevin Bingham is a current International Union of Architects (UIA) Council member representing Region 5 (Africa) and facilitates the UIA's COVID-19 Information Hub. He is a Director of the award winning FGG Architects based in Durban.  Kevin is a former President of the South African Institute of Architects and currently serves on the South African Council for the Architectural Profession, where he chairs the Education and RPL Committees. He is the Co-Founder of SAIA's Open Architecture.
With over 3 decades in practice and academia locally and internationally, his main research interests lie in the relationship between infectious diseases and architecture, and the related design of medical and public facilities, including studies at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Thorsten Deckler
26’10 South Architects 

Thorsten Deckler is an architect driven by a deep purpose to create spaces in which people can thrive. Over the past 15 years he has realised several key buildings as well as exhibitions, films and workshops that explore how this can be pursued. The work produced by 26’10 south Architects (the practice he founded with Anne Graupner and now heads up on his own) is extremely localised to the South Africa context. Each project, be it a taxi rank with wood burning cooking places, an extension to a housing complex using left-over bricks or a university course on in-situ upgrading, develops solutions from the inside of complex problems. To achieve this the practice has employed exhibitions, publications, and films to tell stories that emphasise context and process as key design informants. Through drawing and large-scale model workshops Thorsten has been working with people (not just architecture students) to develop a vision for a popular urbanism that is neither utopian nor dystopian, but imminently achievable. 

The COVID 19 pandemic has brought into sharp relief the pervasive inequalities in South African society and the ineffectiveness of formal development to ensure the health of overwhelming numbers of people. In his presentation Thorsten will reflect on the work of 26’10 south Architects on in-situ upgrading and how complex, systemic problems require the integration of different, often conflicting, needs and perspectives in order to arrive at workable solutions which lay the foundation for the long-term improvement of our cities. This involves a shift in how development is delivered and how architecture is perceived and practiced.


Ankia Bormans
Terra Plus Landscape Architects

Ankia Bormans is the director and principal landscape architect of Terra Plus Landscape Architects. She is an ordinary person, not defined by profession, with an insatiable curiosity. Ankia enjoys immersing herself in beauty, be it place, object or music, indeed all elements which affect our senses.

Public spaces, indeed the access to nature, be it constructed by man, wilderness, or the transition between, has always been essential to the well-being of people. That has not changed, however how we experience these and what is experienced in a time of flux is worth interrogating and discussing. For the purpose of this conversation, Ankia will share her thoughts and views on this.
Nakia shared her observations and questions about public space engagement, suggesting that perhaps it is not the physical public space that will change post-COVID, but rather the rules of engagement. The solutions might be found in changes of attitude and approaches to design, considering that design is not finite nor deterministic. She proposed that architecture and urban design make space for accessibility and changing socio-political climates, which link back to responsive architecture.


Luyanda Mpahlwa
Design Space Africa.

Luyanda Mpahlwa is a Cape Town based architect, urban designer, and founder of Luyanda Mpahlwa DesignSpaceAfrica, which was founded in 2009. Luyanda was incarcerated on Robben Island Prison in 1981 for his anti-apartheid political activities, after which he exiled to Germany where he spent 15 years in Berlin. He returned to South Africa in 2000 and is now a member of SACAP; SAIA; CiFA; UDISA and SABTACO. In practice and in philosophy, Luyanda champions the embracing of contemporary Africa, indigenous building technologies/knowledge, spatial qualities and culture as part of the normal discourse and education of Architects


Luyanda’s presentation prompted lively debate in the text chat. He shared critical observations on the need for collaboration and education to promote responsive architecture.

How has COVID-19 impacted the city and how we practice architecture? 28th October 2020

Perspective 4

Chair: Carin Smuts
CS Studio Architects

The first projects for CS Studio Architects were initiated in Lingelihle, Cradock Eastern Cape, South Africa in 1982 when Carin Smuts was still an architectural student at the University Of Cape Town School Of Architecture. In 1985 both Urs Schmidt, from Aarau, Switzerland and Carin Smuts worked for a Cape Town based firm Prinsloo Parker Flint Elliot and van den Heever for 5 years.
During this time, they started working on community projects after hours. This work was in Cradock, Namaqualand and Mitchell’s Plein. In 1989 they decided to formally start CS Studio Architects.  The practice has a reputation locally and internationally for producing innovative cost-effective design solutions using participatory processes and focusing on using local human and material resources. 


Kirsty Ronne
CoLab Concepts

Colab Concepts is an architectural company that aims to be collaborative across disciplines and rooted in good design principals.Kirsty is passionate about supporting young black woman Architects in South Africa, and it was out of a state of disillusionment at learning that South Africa only has 271 registered black woman professionals, that she founded the ‘Why Project’. The Why Project is a mentoring network project to create support for women in architecture, through the development of real reciprocal mentoring relationships

Perspective: The architect_ Intrinsic role and responsibility
As architects, Kirsty believes that we develop a broad base of intrinsic skills, that are inherent to the way we practice architecture. These intrinsic skills equip us in a unique way to respond to crisis. With this role, comes responsibility, both within the practice of making architecture, but also to our profession. Kirsty’s work is aimed at being a catalyst and support into ways we as individuals can contribute towards meaningful change.

Mark Thomas
Mark Thomas Architects

Mark Thomas is an architect practicing as a sole practitioner from a garden studio in Mowbray. Mark is involved in both architectural and sculptural projects, and cherishes working in collaboration with colleagues, craftsmen, and technician’s alike.

Perspective: Encouragement to the Youth
Mark’s presentation covered the various forms of practice that he has under taken over his career so far, including working for a large firm, being an Inc, a Pty(ltd) with a big team, and then more recently a sole practitioner.  Mark discussed and shared his drawing systems and collaborative practice with other consultants and suppliers.


Derick Henstra
dhk architects + urban designers

Derek founded Derek Henstra Architects in 1983 and the firm later became dhk architects in 1998. dhk urban design and dhk thinkspace were later established and together with dhk architects, they formed a multi-disciplinary practice with offices in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.

Perspective: How COVID-19 changed the way we practice architecture at dhk
COVID-19 and the resultant recession has had a huge effect on how we practice and create architecture and urban design. Derek’s perspective offered a pragmatic approach to how the firm adjusted to the changing circumstances that we all found ourselves in. The exercise of having to go digital so abruptly was of an unprecedented nature and highlighted just how important it is for architectural practices to be equipped with the right set of tools so that they may continue with their work.


How has COVID-19 impacted the city and how we teach & learn architecture? 4th November 2020

Perspective 5

Chair: Nikki Jinka
Deputy Director: Dept of Infrastructure & Engineering (UWC)
Nikki Jinka started his architectural journey with under-graduate studies at the then Cape Tech. before obtaining a Bachelor of Architecture from UCT. After a short stint in practice, he started as a part-time lecturer at CPUT where he spent 7 years. In his time there he assumed a range of responsibilities before being appointed as the Acting HOD for the Department of Architecture and Interior Design, a position from which he established working relations with local and international universities.
In 2017, when moving back into full-time practice, he was appointment as the regional Managing Director for multi-disciplinary practice with a large public sector focus, but returned to an academic institution in 2020, albeit in a very different capacity… this time as the Deputy Director for the Department of Infrastructure and Engineering at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

Prof. Lone Poulsen
Prof. Lone Poulsen holds a Bachelor of Architecture and a Masters in Town and Regional Planning from the University of Natal, Durban. She practiced and taught in Durban until 1991 when she joined the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits University. Lone played an academic and leadership role at Wits serving as Assistant Dean for the Built Environment disciplines and Director of the Architecture Programme. Lone was appointed Programme Director for the SAIA initiated OpenArchitecture programme in 2013 which seeks to collaborate with existing schools of architecture to facilitate part time architectural studies.  
Lone has published widely and been a consultant to the City of Johannesburg, the Gauteng and National Department of Human Settlements, the National Association of Social Housing Organisations (NASHO) and various residents association. She has served on the judging panels of architectural and urban design competitions, adjudicated the Institute of Architects Merit Awards in RSA and in Zimbabwe and been external examiner and external critic for architectural, urban design, housing and planning courses at a number of universities.

Dr Jolanda Morkel
Jolanda Morkel is a registered architect and senior lecturer in the Department of Architectural Technology and Interior Design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town, South Africa. She has extensive teaching experience and she designed, co-ordinated and facilitated various transformative learning and teaching innovations, aimed at broadening access to higher education. Jolanda regularly publishes, presents at conferences, and facilitates workshops on studio-based learning, flexible, blended and online learning, technology-mediated and work-integrated learning experiences, learning design, and design-thinking for staff development. The focus of her doctoral research is at the intersection of architecture, education and information and communication technology (ICT), exploring the student-tutor interaction in the live online critique, through the webinar platform. Jolanda championed a ground-breaking part-time blended undergraduate programme in Architectural Technology offered by CPUT in collaboration with an industry partner, as the first of its kind in Africa.

Fadly Isaacs
Fadly is a senior lecturer at the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics at the University of Cape Town. His research is concerned with architectural place making and spatial justice in Cape Town. The work is guided by the premise that the urban form and the lived experiences of people are intimately connected. These concerns integrally inform and shape his teaching and research. He co-convened the Space of Good Hope Design Research Studio at UCT, 2016-2019.

Dr Carin Combrinck
Dr Carin Combrinck is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture, where she has been teaching since 2010, following fifteen years as a practitioner mostly focused on residential architecture. Through her teaching and as part of her PhD, Dr Combrinck has explored the role of the architectural profession in addressing the upgrade of informal settlements as part of the bigger concern with the increased loss of spatial agency in the built environment.
To this end, Dr Combrinck has played a leading role in introducing the ethos and practices of community engagement and participative design in the curriculum of the Department across all five years of study in the Professional degree programmes of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Interior Architecture. As such, the impact of her teaching reaches across scales and boundaries, laying the foundation for improved design practices which responds to the needs and dreams of communities in the spirit of Public Interest Design.
Carin established the Unit for Urban Citizenship during 2019, which aims to establish a socially responsive approach to architecture in the department through embedded participation in the curriculum. Her commitment to longitudinal engagement with community partners over several years, resulted in her receiving the University of Pretoria’s institutional Community Engagement award in the same year.

Dr. Sechaba Maape
Dr Sechaba Maape is an architect and senior lecturer at the Wits School of Architecture and Planning. After completing his Masters in Architecture (Professional)(WITS) he went on to undertake a PhD in architecture (WITS) supervised by Dr Daniel Irurah. His thesis explored people/place relationships, ritual and climate change adaptation among pre-historic indigenous communities in Kuruman in the Northern Cape Province. His research enquiries led him to engage archaeological and paleontological material in depth, guided through the co-supervision of Professor Benjamin Smith who at the time directed the Rock Art Research Institute (RARI) then later Professor Francis Thackeray who was the director of the Wits Institute of Human Evolution. In his research Dr Maape has always investigated the manner in which people survived change and variability, especially environmental change. His main finding, being that rituals played a significant role in fostering psychological, social and thus ecological adaptation, directed him to engage modern ritual spaces in South Africa towards deepening our understanding of the role of these practices and places in modern society. These explorations have become key in his academic activities both in teaching and research. In his teaching of the History and Theory of Architecture 1 course at the Wits School of Architecture and Planning (SoAP), he introduced a revised curriculum that included archaeological material from prehistoric periods which was previously excluded in the curriculum. In addition Dr Maape created cross disciplinary links with the School of Archaeology with a number of cross school lectures and examinations. Dr Maape also runs the major first year architecture course namely Architecture Design and Theory 1. Again in this course he introduced elements of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) in his teaching methods. This course won the 2018 Vice Chancellors Team Teaching Award at Wits

Dr Hermie Delport
Dr Hermie Delport has been involved in architectural education for the past twenty years. She was at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology for approximately 20 years where she taught various courses, led design-build projects, was involved in curriculum development and design and acted as Head of the Department of Architectural Technology and Interior Design.
Hermie is currently with STADIO Higher Education Institution where she is the Project Leader for the development of STADIO’s future School of Architecture and Spatial Design. Her research focuses on architectural curriculum and education as well as community engagement, with a specific interest in live and design-build projects as sites of learning. She believes the marriage between the inherent hands-on context of architectural education and the online learning environment provides interesting opportunities for future learning scenarios and experience

Dr. Ariane Janse van Rensburg
Dr Ariane Janse van Rensburg is an associate professor at the WITS School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand. She completed her PhD exploring curriculum practices as forms of inclusion and exclusion within higher education. She initiated the Architectural Education Forum (AEF) an Africa-wide discussion group on the current challenges encountered in architectural education and has hosted various AEF symposia on Architectural Education. Her other fields of research include:
Visual symbolic meaning - M.Arch by research
Mental Health Design - presented at World Psychiatric Association congress November 2016


Open Architecture seeks to provide part time Architectural studies through blended learning programmes optimising f2f on-campus academic blocks, online learning and practice-based mentoring from the office of a registered architectural practice under the guidance of a SACAP registered architectural practitioner and is not bound to geographic location.



Design District – 3rd Floor

Cnr Tyrwhitt & Keyes Avenues

Rosebank, Johannesburg