My name is Jhono Bennett, and I am a socio-technical architectural urbanist based in Johannesburg. I have recently shifted from my leadership role in 1to1 – Agency of Engagement; a non-profit entity that provides a design based collaborative service between grass roots organisations, professionals, academia and government, into a practice-led PhD. This has led me into work with various department of the South Africa government, key local and international research institutes and international universities including Harvard’s GSD, USA, CEPT, India and the University of Sheffield, UK.
I have begun to pursue my PhD at the Global Change Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand under the Bosch Pan African College, I still hold a research position within the DSD Desis Lab at UJ’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture while managing the Just Urbanism Initiative through 1to1.
My current focus is around the inclusive use and making of our South African cities, specifically the role that design plays in this. This has led me to work with various departments of the South Africa government, key local and international research institutes and international universities including CEPT, India; Harvard’s GSD & Yale, USA and the University of Sheffield, UK. I have recently stepped out of a position Graduate School of Architecture’s Unit 14 and have been working closely with Architecture Sans Frontieres through their teaching and design research initiatives here in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
In 2015 I was nominated as an Ashoka Fellow and currently am part of the Young African Leadership Initiative’s (YALI), Mandela Washington Fellowship.
Having been professionally trained in Durban (my home town) and Cape Town, I hold a master’s degree in architecture with distinction from the University of Pretoria with a supplemented semester abroad at the Carlton University in Ottawa, Canada. In 2016 I completed a summer programme on leadership and social impact through policy hosted by the UC Berkeley’s Goldman School for Public Policy during my YALI Fellowship.
Among the various practices, and institutions, I have been involved with in my early career, some of the most influential experiences I have had took place while working with with Architecture for Humanity , as the South African Shack Dwellers International Alliance as well my time lecturing at the Graduate School of Architecture.
But, it was during my work as a student with the Slovo Park Project; a student and community led research, co-design initiative, that I developed a critical stance in regard to the role of design in the fluid and dynamic developing areas of South Africa.