“When is urban design architecture? When is architecture urban design?”

Tariq Toffa


Newtown – Johannesburg

Click HERE to see the Unit 2_A3_Neighborhood Immersion – Brief


Newtown is a potentially unique post-apartheid space. It is a site ideal for exploring a post-apartheid imagination of societal transformation. Put differently, it is a site ideally suited for mixed income, mixed-race, mixed program, & ultimately new ways of being & living in South Africa. This is because it is the only Johannesburg urban area located between South African Indian & immigrant South Asians (Fordsburg, Mayfair, Crosby, etc.) to its west, the largely white suburbs to its north, & the black & African immigrant inner city areas to its east. Moreover, the racial categories also parallel diverse linguistic & economic categories.

A3 A3-2

The unit built upon the previous two assignment by critically immersing themselves into Newtown and conducting a rigorous and detailed socio-spatial urban analysis. The students were broken into 4 smaller groups with each being assigned  the task of developing a neighbourhood level urban framework that was to be negotiated amongst the unit groups to create a larger framework for the greater site area.

A3-5 A3-7 Unit2_NSS-5

           Monica Albonico & Marianne De Klerk                                 Christa Van Zyl                                    Shyam Patel, Nhlamulo Ngobeni & Samantha Trask

Unit 2 invited several guests to support the students at strategic points in the project; Monica Albonico & Marianne De Klerk, both highly experienced and learned urban designers and theorists were asked to critique the students on their urban design frameworks and analysis as well as present on their own work. Christa Van Zyl from the University of Johannesburg’s Graphic Design Department kindly spent time with the students discussing presentation. Shyam Patel, Nhlamulo Ngobeni and Samantha Trask, all recently graduated University of Johannesburg Master’s students each presented their thesis work which dealt with the critical balance between urban design and architecture in complex social contexts.


Unit 2 Urban Model


Sibusiso Lwandle Concept Model

Unit members then took their urban studies and frameworks and focussed on developing catalytic interventions that would exemplify the nature of their urban aims through the architectural scale. These explorations were rigorously critiqued between the unit members and coordinators through an intensive 2 week period while students refined and re-addressed their urban frameworks based on their investigations at the urban scale.

A3-12  A3-11

  The student work – to see more information on the work, click the image:


Simon Ngubeni



David Spratt


Omphile Msindo


Clara Senatore


Andrea Relling


Luke Venter


Mfundo Magongo


Diana Wolny


Darren Van Gool

Darren Van Gool


Ngwato Kekana


Manuel Simon

Manuel Simon


Jarryd Bates

Assignment 3 proved to be the most challenging project for the Unit, but ultimately the students have made the largest jump in their development as the earlier 2 assignments start to shape and inform their processes of thinking, representation and design.