The Design of Urban Form as a Response to Elusive Patterns and Networks: Examples from Industrial and Informal Urban Areas in Pretoria, South Africa

By Christina Alida Breed, Hermias J. (Mias) Claassens and Jhono Bennett.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article maintains the importance of a contextual and humanist understanding for the design of public space through the incorporation of concrete and changing realities in the analysis of the urban environment. In an attempt to reach a greater understanding of the construction of space through social networks, qualitative fieldwork methods are used to document the flows of social process and physical matter in the immediate context of the two chosen sites for intervention. The importance of these networks for the design of built form and space are determined for each scenario. The research underpins the design relevance in architecture (and contemporary urban life) of social activity, movement, temporality versus permanence (in form), and mobility versus fixity (in location). It places in question the traditional role and definition of architecture and their present relevance in the developing world. The result is an alternative set of considerations that define the architectural brief assuring: integration with the public realm; inclusion of emergent functions; and awareness of the importance of temporality and flexibility (with regard spatial structure and appropriation). The first case study is an urban industrial area and the second a peripheral, informal urban area. Both examples are situated in the city of Pretoria within the greater Tshwane Metropolitan Area.

Keywords: Architecture, Urban Space, Developing, Qualitative, Emergence, Networks

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.215-244. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 13.866MB).

Dr Christina Alida Breed

Lecturer, Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

Christina A. Ida Breed is a registered professional landscape architect (SACLAP). She obtained a Master’s degree in design and urban studies from the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City (2003). Her Master’s dissertation was on Mamelodi township, viewing alternative methods and methodologies to design and urban planning to enable more contextually appropriate projects that focus on public involvement and appropriation of public open space. Her research includes design methodology and urban space with special interest in cultural identity and change, abstract versus concrete phenomena, and humane environments and the developing world. Her professional experience includes landscape design and implementation, strategic and open space frameworks, master planning, environmental planning, and project management. In January 2008, she joined the University of Pretoria as a full-time lecturer in the Department of Architecture. Ida has travelled broadly in the developing world and is fluent in three languages.

Hermias J. (Mias) Claassens

Architect, Revel Fox & Partners Architects, South Africa

Hermias J. (Mias) Claassens is a registered candidate architect (SAIA). He obtained a Master’s degree in Architecture cum laude from the University of Pretoria (2010). His Master’s dissertation investigated the potential of industrial architecture in facilitating emergent functions through adaptive re-use of discarded space in the Pretoria West Industrial area. His particular interest is on adaptable architecture that supports urban regeneration, integrated communities, and sustainable urban growth. In April 2011, he joined Revel Fox & Partners architects as a candidate architect. He is currently working on a boutique hotel in the heritage sensitive town of Stellenbosch, South Africa. The dynamics of the urban environment interests him greatly. When travelling, Mias makes a point of exploring the different urban centres to absorb the fascinating integration of humans within their living environment. His next port of call is Istanbul, Turkey.

Jhono Bennett

Student, Architecture, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Jhono J. Bennett obtained a Master’s degree in Architecture with distinction from the University of Pretoria, South Africa (2011). He completed his undergraduate education in Architecture at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal with a supplemented semester abroad at the Carlton University, Ottawa, Canada. During his two year practical training in Cape Town, he worked, in addition to his primary office work with Architecture for Humanity on the Football for Hope Initiative, collaborating on the design for the Special Olympics Training centre in Katatura, Windhoek, Namibia. Slovo Park, a student and community research design and in-funded construction project (2010), provided a critical stance in regard to the role of Architecture in the fluid and dynamic developing areas of South Africa. This was taken further in his Master’s dissertation that focused on design as a response to vulnerable networks through qualitative fieldwork in Mamelodi, Pretoria.