Page 181 - UCT Research Report 2011

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faculty of engineering & the built environment
School of Architecture,
Planning & Geomatics
Director: Associate Professor
Alta Steenkamp
School Profile
Within the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics,
research work includes conventional research and applied
research as well as creative work. This takes place within
the actively teaching divisions within the School, as well
as within dedicated research units. In the Architecture and
Planning programmes these research endeavours include
areas of enquiry such as urban design, architectural
design, architectural education, digital technology,
contemporary architectural theory and practice, planning
theory, urban conservation, urban transport policy and
urban informality.
The ethos of this School is also strongly influenced by our
context: the physical context, the city, and the broader
social/cultural/economic context of the region and the
country. We are committed to engage with these contexts
in both a meaningful and critical way, not as abstract sites
for investigation but rather as peopled places to which we
can respond.
There are a few projects underway in the School that
evidences this: the PERC - VPUU “Participatory Design”
project, the community-led and involved Planning &
Landscape Architecture Studio Project that focuses on
the informal settlements of Barcelona & Europe (run
in conjunction with CORC [Community Organisation
Resource Centre] with support by the international NGO
Slum and Shack Dwellers International [SDI]), and the
year BAS Platform building project in the informal
settlement of Imizamo Yethu.
The Geomatics Division within the School undertakes
research in a variety of areas. These include documentation,
modelling and visualization of African heritage sites, close-
range photogrammetry, laser scanning of architectural
structures and remote sensing of the environment; issues
relating to land surveying, ownership, registration and
tenure; modeling of the shape of the Earth (geoid)
using gravity and satellite data, applications of GPS and
modeling of datum transformations in Africa; applications
of remote sensing and geographic information systems
(GIS) to urban, agricultural and environmental monitoring.
Spatial data infrastructure (SDI) development for integrated
development planning (IDP) in sub-Saharan African cities.
Research Units and Groups
African Centre for Cities
Known colloquially by the acronym ‘ACC’, the Centre
is now five years old. In its short life it has established
an impressive international profile and reputation as a
dynamic home for analysis of urban problems and policies.
Its interdisciplinary brand gives the ACC huge potential to
facilitate urban conversations and inquiry throughout UCT.
‘CityLabs’, a new model of engaged and applied research,
were created to address pressing concerns in Cape Town,
including flooding, urban health, densification, ecology,
and climate change. New Labs on violence, culture
and human settlements have been launched. The ACC
partners with international research units studying food
security, and women’s informal employment. Honours for
ACC include its (renewed) status as a UCT ‘Signature
Theme’ and a Rockefeller Innovation Award.
The ACC is linked tightly to the flourishing Association
of African Planning Schools (47 members across the
continent) and it leads a multinational ‘state of the cities’
audit in four African capitals. Extending the ACC’s cross-
continent work is under consideration. The ACC has good
links with UCT’s newly established African Climate &
Development Initiative (ACC was present at COP17), and
will work closely with the new Violence Signature theme.
Exchange of PhD students with City officials is starting in
2012 in an exciting programme for co-production of urban
The Cape Urban Observatory is an ACC project, run
from within the Geomatics Division, which aims to
facilitate evidence-based decision making and improved
collaboration by providing a public internet-based platform
for the storage, dissemination and analysis of geo-spatial
information and analysis of themes relevant to integrated
development planning.
Noteworthy achievements in 2011
Professor Jo Noero was awarded UCT’s Creative Works
Award for the Red Location Museum of Struggle in Port
Professor Vanessa Watson was elected as a fellow of the
Emeritus Professor Dave Dewar received the Mayor’s
Medal for Social Affairs and Services for his contribution to
the study of Planning in South Africa.