I believe that sustainable urbanism can be conducted in innovative and socially just ways, underscoring the importance of translating scientific findings into policy, local action, and appropriate design. Besides the research and teaching I conduct at the ETH Zurich, I have been working with the Resilient Civic Design Collective (RCDC) since they opened shop in Cape Town and Zurich in 2017. This praxis is predicated upon working with and for people to build urban resilience, and allows me to operationalize the issues of uneven development and inequality I encounter in my academic work through my training as an architect and urban designer.
Learn more about RCDC as an organization here from a recent presentation to the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership by managing director Byron Hanslo.
For example, one project we took on last year was a feasibility study for a client in Lusaka, Zambia, to develop at 27 hectare parcel of land in a socially and environmentally “sustainable” way. For this, we first had to clear away the standard rhetoric surrounding sustainable development, showing these clients that our vision for equitable and transformative design occurs through lasting transdisciplinary engagement and plans flexible enough to meet the evolving needs of people. We explored several directions, including a “cluster” model with programs and building types to be determined after completing extensive transdisciplinary engagement on site.
This year, I’m excited to share that I’ve taken on a more formalized role as Head of Research, as we scale up our operations and take on new global sites and challenges. Our motto is to facilitate – not to dictate – equitable and sustainable urban development and I hope to report back on many exciting new projects soon, as we are expanding our focus to several other sites in Southern Africa.