Alternative Practice Module – Course Overview

Working Definition

An empathic approach to spatial design that works within existing social networks through a critical and participative design process to co-produce an integrated, holistic and contextually supportive strategy to any issue(s) faced by an individual or group of people living in a poor or unsafe condition or area.


The course aims to expose students to various socio-technical projects, practitioners while allowing students to develop their own methods and tools applicable to socio-technical design in South Africa.


This module aims to provide the student with grounding in the theories and tools required to practice ‘alternative’ architecture. While the first component of the course dealt with conventional office practice, this 2nd component of the module aims to equip students with knowledge and skills to operate outside of the context of conventional office practice and aims to address the socio-sptial complexity of South Africa.

The course is designed to co-produce a tangible information packages that can be used both theoretically and pragmatically by the students to engage in socio-technical design in South Africa.

Week 1 – Intro

Set by course

Week 2 – Overview Socio-Technical Design/Designers

Describe alternative practice (participatory, socio-technical design) through people (practitioners) & examples:

Teddy Cruz, Liz Ogbu, Nabeel Hamdi, Orinji Project in Pakistan, Community Architects in Thailand Shack Dwellers International, IDEOO, John Turner, e.t.c

  • What is Socio-Technical Design
  • Why Socio-Technical Design?
  • Socio-Technical Design in South Africa
  • Tools for Socio-Technical Design (broad)
  • How the course will develop these tools with students + output (tool kit?)
  • Hand out topics/practitioners to each student, who will present back to class the following week on various practitioners and their toolsets/methods/projects

Week 3 – Lecture + Discussion

Theories, Methodologies and Toolkits Presention + Discussion

Week 4 – UIA/JHB

UIA – students to go to Socio-Technical Technical Presentation and report back on chosen practitioners

Students who stay – must interview local practitioners

Week 5 – Graphic Discussions (Socio –Technical Designer)

Presentations of Socio-Technical Practitioners + discussion on ideals of Socio-Technical Designers

Students to present ideas on ‘tool kits’

Week 6 – Graphic Discussions (Socio –Technical Design)

Presentations of Socio-Technical Practices+ discussion on ideals of Socio-Technical Practice

Graphic Discussion on ideal Socio-Technical practicesin South Africa (JHB?)

Students to present evolved ideas on ‘tool kits’

Week 7 Crit Sessions

Final presentation of ‘ tool kits’

Example: 5 page multi-stakeholder accessible document/video to hand over as ‘toolkit’ for socio-technical design in South Africa

JulyWeek 1Monday 14INTRO WEEK
Week 2Monday 21Overview Socio-Technical Design/Designers
Week 3Monday 28Presentation on Theories, Toolkits and methodologies
AugustWeek 4Monday 4UIA/JHB
Week 5Monday 11Presentations + graphic discussion 1 (Socio ÐTechnical Designer)
Week 6Monday 18Presentations + graphic discussion 2 (Socio ÐTechnical Tools Methodologies)
Week 7Monday 25Final Presentations/Submissions


You must each choose a practitioner on the list below. Please email your 1st and 2nd choice accompanied by a short (200 word) motivation for your first choice beforeThursday 31st of August 00:30 .

For the presentation lectures, in pecha kucha format (20 slides, 20 seconds) you will need to:

  • Presentation Lecture 1:
    • describe their background, reason, normative
    • describe the theories that underpin their work
    • begin to present your first idea for your own toolkit
  • Presentation Lecture 2
    • describe their methods/approach
    • describe the ‘tools’ they use
    • begin to present your first idea for your own toolkit

Each presentation will carry a mark towards your continuous assessment (40% of your final mark). Your final presentation will be weighted at 60% of your final mark.

Socio-Technical Practitioner/Practice List:

  1. Liz Ogbu
  2. Nabeel Hamdi
  3. Teddy Cruz
  4. Nabeel Hamdi
  5. Quillian Riano
  6. Alejandro Aravena
  7. Alejandro Haeik
  8. Arif Hassan
  9. Asiye eTafuelni
  10. Rodney Harber
  11. Hassan Fathy
  12. Father Jorge Anzorenza
  13. Jorge Mario Jaureni
  14. Samssook Bonybancha



Desire Lines – Noeleen Murray Et al
Counter Currents – edited by Edgar Pieterse
Design for the Real World – Victor Papanek
Housing by People – John Turner
Housing without Houses – Nabeel Hamdi
Cityscapes Journal – edited by Sean O’Toole, Tau Tavenga & Edgar Pieterse
A Place Maker’s Guide – Nabeel Hamdi
Small Change – Hamdi
Spatial Agency – Schneider, Till, et al
Cities with Slums – Marie Huchzermeyer
Housing By People – John Turner
Architecture for the Poor: – Hassan Fathy

Digital Resources:–4nM