UCL Doctoral Position: TACK Network

After more than 2 years of stepping out of my role at 1to1, my teaching work at the University of Johannesburg as well as my practice work in South Africa I will be beginning a PhD position at the University College London’s Bartlett School of Architecture. This position is supported by the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions EU funding through the TACK/ Communities of Tacit Knowledge Network and will see me engaging with a dynamic and committed network of scholars:

‘TACK / Communities of Tacit Knowledge: Architecture and its Ways of Knowing’ is a newly funded Innovative Training Network, as part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions within the European Framework Program Horizon 2020. It trains young researchers in understanding the specific knowledge that architects use when designing buildings and cities. TACK gathers ten major academic institutions, three leading cultural architectural institutions as well as nine distinguished architecture design offices. Collaboratively these partners offer an innovative PhD training program on the nature of tacit knowledge in architecture, resulting in ten parallel PhD projects.

The research program consists of ten PhD projects, which are pursued by ten PhD candidates, hosted by ten academic partners. While the individual PhD projects constitute independent doctoral projects in their own right, nine of these can (in terms of content) be grouped in three clusters:

  1. Approaching Tacit Knowledge: These PhD projects approach tacit knowledge from historical and theoretical perspectives
  2. Probing Tacit Knowledge: These PhD projects examine tacit knowledge through concrete cases
  3. Situating Tacit Knowledge: These PhD projects situate tacit knowledge in architecture by developing innovative concepts and methods

I have been placed in the Situating Tacit Knowledge Cluster under Dr. Peg Rawes under the Values Project.

” The three PhD candidates working on this research cluster will develop new theoretical concepts and new heuristic approaches to examine how tacit knowledge is understood in architectural practice and how it can be made explicit and communicated. They will investigate how value-systems that are inherent to specific cultural contexts (for instance concerning the public role of the architect) affect the perception and reception of tacit knowledge in architecture, and examine how self-reflexivity can sharpen the understanding of the functioning of tacit knowledge.”

The 3 year programme is jam packed with conferences, symposia and meetings and actively encourages and support mobility across the network, including a practical secondment as well as secondment to cultural institute in the network.

It has been a long journey to reach this point, and I am grateful to the individuals and institutes who supported me in this difficult transition period as well as those (who have been personally acknowledged these last months) who played such an important role in shaping my research and practice through the opportunities offered. Thank you.

Inclusive Cities: Scaling Up Participation in Urban Planning

Through 1to1 I have been very fortuante to be a part of this global network project. The Initaitve was held over 3 years and supported research, learning and engagements across South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Manchester, United Kingdom.

See: https://www.gdi.manchester.ac.uk/research/groups/global-urban-futures/scaling-up-participation-in-urban-planning/ for all details. Summary below:

Goal: 

In recent decades the world has experienced unprecedented urban growth. According to the United Nations 4 billion people, or 54% of the world’s population, lived in towns and cities in 2015. That number is expected to increase to 5 billion by 2030.

Urban growth has outpaced the ability of many governments to build infrastructure and, in many towns and cities in the global South, provision for housing is inadequate. Consequently one in three urban dwellers live in informal settlements. Issues of insecure tenure, poor access to basic services, and insecure livelihoods are all prevalent. Although local government may have the desire to improve the situation they are, in many cases, under-capitalised and under-capacitated. Existing planning legislation and practices remain incapable of resolving such issues therefore local residents try and resolve these themselves. Their efforts are, however, fragmented and localised.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the resulting Sustainable Development Goals vow to end poverty, to achieve gender equality and ensure liveable cities. Multi-disciplinary approaches that build on local action and create strong partnerships are needed in order to advance initiatives and to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all and to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

This commitment to ‘leave no-one behind’ highlights the importance and strengthens the significance of citizen involvement in urban development. Academics seek to contribute to new solutions and approaches to problems faced by the residents in informal settlements. Universities have an important role in generating, analysing and monitoring data that can be used by policy makers. However this should be done in collaboration with local government, local residents and organisations. Citizen involvement and public participation in policy-making and programming should be nurtured and encouraged.

Aims and objectives:


The network aims to develop the knowledge required to move from participatory community-led neighbourhood planning to city-scale planning processes. The aims and objectives of the project are critical to achieving inclusive urban futures, these include:

-Develop frameworks that build on effective approaches of community-led planning for informal settlement, upgrading at the neighbourhood level, and then scaling these to the city level.
-Locate these frameworks within traditions of alternative planning including participatory co-productive planning, participatory planning and action planning thus strengthening the critical mass of people-centred approaches supporting inclusive urban development. This component will elaborate why grassroots organisations make a substantive contribution to inclusive urban development and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.
-Develop a framework that enables the integration of community understandings and innovations with academic and professional knowledge.
-Achieving these objectives requires a combined effort from academics and civil society agencies. While academic researchers encourage civil society agencies to engage meaningfully and substantively, it is difficult to achieve this within academic research programmes. By creating a formal network the opportunity for engagement is created, to deliver on a set of shared objectives and to achieve the strengthening of relations between individuals and agencies.

The network:

Professor Diana Mitlin, Managing Director of the Global Development Institute at The University of Manchester, is the project lead.
Dr Philipp Horn, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester’s School of Education, Environment and Development and Postdoctoral Research Associate at The Open University, provides research support to the project.
The network is a co-productive knowledge partnership between civil society action research agencies and academic departments. The project combines professionals and academics with a commitment to substantive change and experience at local level.

This network is funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

SDI-affiliated civil society alliances of organised groups of low-income residents are working in partnership with academic institutions. Their participatory efforts at neighbourhoods have been presented as best-practice examples in urban poverty reduction. These alliances are:

Dialogue on Shelter Trust, Zimbabwe
Slum Dwellers International Alliance, Kenya
The network comprises committed partners that have been directly involved in previous participatory planning processes, these include:

The University of Manchester (UK)
The Faculty of Art Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg (South Africa)
CURI at The University of Nairobi
Faculty of the Built Environment at the National University of Science and Technology (Zimbabwe)
Design Society Development DESIS Lab based at Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), The University of Johannesburg
1to1 – Agency of Engagement


All of these departments have a track record on urban development planning. The selected individuals within these departments have established connections with low-income communities, planners and urban professionals within their respective countries as well as sub-Saharan Africa. They have previously conducted practice relevant research around topics such as informal settlement upgrading, service provisioning and participatory community planning.

See: https://www.gdi.manchester.ac.uk/research/groups/global-urban-futures/scaling-up-participation-in-urban-planning/ for all details.

Designing With People – CEPT

In late 2018, Dr. Jigna Desai of CEPT University offered me an opportunity to teach her semester course at the Faculty of Architecture in Ahmedabad. This came about as a spin off of the 3 year professional mobility hosted by Sheffield University, the University of Johannesburg and Nanjing University.

Jigna had been running a design module each year in Mandvi Ni Pol within the old city of Ahmedabad and allowed me to bring my own take  ‘Designing with People’.

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The opportunity allowed me to structure a module that was critical, reflective, speculative and grounded in both participatory research as well as design methods.

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I worked closely with Harshil Parekh, the studio assistant, and we designed the course (with the Mandvi Ni Pol leadership) to be as supportive and mutually beneficial as possible. The limits of such work was crucial to recognize and was done early on in the process. (see below)

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The course actively challenged the idea of participatory work as ‘consensus building’ and sought to build a platform for dialogue of dreaming and discussion with residents. The program equipped students with deep exposure to field work, critical self-reflection techniques and discussions on demographic positionality in such work.

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We used action learning, visual thinking and UserX methods of working between ourselves and the resident User Groups we engaged with. DWP_Studio Book13DWP_Studio Book14DWP_Studio Book15DWP_Studio Book16

We co-designed a series of Studio Tools and used them across the semester. This was critical in building a way of working while bridging the difficult gap of participatory research into participatory design(see below). DWP_Studio Book17DWP_Studio Book18DWP_Studio Book19DWP_Studio Book20

The students responded amazingly and put together a comprehensive and challenging body of work that was well received by critics and the residents.

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A full Gujarati ‘hand over’ booklet titled Dreaming with Mandvi Ni Pol was put together and given to the leadership in our final engagement with the Pol. The students additionally met with their individual usergroups and underwent a smaller level ‘handover’ DWP_Studio Book35DWP_Studio Book36

Dr Jigna Desai is still working in the Pol and continues this work (see the orange thread) within her larger offering to the old City of Ahmedabad.

1to1 2.0 – a new chapter

1to1 - Agency of Engagement

HOW DID 1TO1 START?

1to1 began in 2010 when a group of students from a South African university were given an opportunity towork with the residents and leadership of Slovo Park, theSlovo Park Development Forum, as part of their masters in architecture programme.

During the initial project of co-designing and co-building a small tactical intervention in Slovo Park, theSlovo Hall,the group were exposed to another way of working and city-making, as people first then as practitioners – they sought to grow this additional mode of practice into something that could support similar projects while creating a platform for engagement with other stakeholders and students. This initial student group went on to develop the1to1 Student Groupinto 1to1 – Agency of Engagement andregister the organisation in 2012 as legal entity.

HOW HAS 1TO1 ADAPTED?

Since2010, 1to1 has grown, reflected and adaptedthrough…

View original post 680 more words

1to1 – A Reflective Hand-Over

After 8 years of being the leader of 1to1 – Agency of Engagement, I have stepped aside as the executive director of the Non-Profit we started in 2010 and begun a parallel (and supportive) journey to reflect and ground what I’ve experienced and learnt over the years into a PhD.

A Reflective Engagement

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As a means of handing over, reflecting and trying to make sense of the last 8 years we have put together a reflective document that we hope will capture and share the experience for other practitioners, our supporters and the people who have joined us so far. (Link here: https://issuu.com/1to1_enyekwenye/docs/1to1_a_reflective_engagement_snglep)

The report is intended to offer a critical take on what we as 1to1 have done since we started, while celebrating the small wins, recognising the various  people who have made this possible and charting a new path towards a more resilient and effective organisation.

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The report additionally serves as a record of our work and where we began. We tried to frame 1to1 in this moment, as we prepare to shift and change under new leadership and a more focussed view on the future.

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We archived and recorded all our projects, our partners and offered a retrospective view on the ‘impact’ that we felt held merit and should be re-examined in 1to1 2.0.

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Finally we looked hard at the pitfalls and successes of the organisation and asked the hard questions within ourselves – should we keep the entity alive?

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This document bears record of every person who has made an active contribution to 1to1 and hopefully sets down the first step towards a better, more resilient organisation.

I wish my colleagues much luck in their new roles and I will always be close by to support and work within my new capacity as Just Urbanism Initiative Lead.

Center for Policy Research – Delhi: Presentation & Workshop

During my time teaching at CEPT, I was offered by a colleague who was working on India/South African urbanist relationships (Eesha Kundurito) to share my initial doctoral work process with the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi.

“The Centre for Policy Research (CPR) has been one of India’s leading public policy think tanks since 1973. The Centre is a non-profit, non-partisan independent institution dedicated to conducting research that contributes to the production of high quality scholarship, better policies, and a more robust public discourse about the structures and processes that shape life in India.”

I was invited to share my work at the  Centre de Sciences Humaines, an introduction to my own initial questions for my doctoral research:

CPR-CSH Workshop on ‘A Post-Post Apartheid Urban Praxis’

Additionally, I took part in a very engaging podcast interview with Mukta Naik for the Tacit Knowledge Urban Research Network (TURN):

“TURN collaboratively conducts research on urban informal processes and the tacit knowledge integral in them from multiple vantage points in the relational geographies of settlement, housing, and economies, with the eventual goal of incorporating that understanding into knowledge systems that support policy-making.”

On Design-led Practice: A Conversation with Jhono Bennett

On Design-led Practice: A Conversation with Jhono Bennet

Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture: Critical Practice

As part of my teaching at UJ’s Post Graduate School of Architecture within the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, I have taught the critical practice module since 2012 and have been able to shape it each year to the needs of the school.

This year we taught the second iteration of the ASF challenging Practice course and adapted the broader module to include a workshop with various local socio-technical and grassroots development practitioners.

The workshop sought to co-develop a set of principles and guides for architects and designers could work with groups of people (particularly vulnerable groups in Johannesburg) and worked on the back of the 1to1 – Codes of Ethics that have been under development since 2010.

The workshop was a great success and the codes in their first draft are available here:

Full documentation of the workshop can be seen here:

https://sociotechnicalspatialdesign.wordpress.com

Hactivate: Vrededorp/Page View

1to1, alongside a group of former interns and students, set out to develop a mechanism to support recently graduated students of spatial design.

Through a series of discussions and workshops the collaboration formed an idea of developing a series of action research workshops that give current students and pre-professionals a flexible and open space to test these ideas. The group named themselves Hactivate, and put together a proposal to test out a workshop series of 5 such Hactivations.

So far the collaboration has been able to test one such Hactivation with ARUP Urban Design employing the Back Story installation. This Hactivation worked with residents living in Pagew View/Vrededorp and sought to live-test an engagement process that had residents leading engineers, city officials and urban designers through a guided walk of their neighbourhood identifying area or conditions of opportunity.

The process used the tool as a grounding framework and worked with students from UJ who acted as socio-technical facilitators and method mechanic to collect the findings live via Whatsapp and build a model of the findings that were discussed through a facilitated session in the Back Story space.

 

 

 

 

We plan to develop this further in the new year and grow the initiative.

Backstory – Joburg

Backstory began as an explorative research investigation into the idea of Spatial Ineqaulity in Johannesburg. The initial project collective was led by Liz Ogbu, Counterspace Studio and 1to1 – Agency of Engagement under the title of ‘ the Unjust City’ .

The project took form between 2016 – 2018 as a collaboratively built installation in Johannesburg’s inner-city neighborhood of Braamfontein, where stories and city-data were unpacked through a series of workshops, discussions, and exhibitions. The installation aimed to bring together different city inhabitants and make this confluence of data and stories more accessible to those who use, manage and make the city.

The installation sought to draw in a diverse group of voices to engage with the narratives of spatial justice at play in Johannesburg. The installation space was developed by the Back Story Collective and offered as a platform to selected (typically students, local actors and activists) researchers who were working on topics of spatial injustice.

www.backstoryjoburg.wordpress.com

Urban Conference Visual Summary: South African Cities Network

Through my fellowship as a Mandela Washington Fellow, I was able to secure a practicum appointment with the South African Cities Network. The Network is a non-profit entity that:

The South African Cities Network (SACN) is an established network of South African cities and partners that encourages the exchange of information, experience and best practices on urban development and city management. Since 2002 the SACN’s objectives are to:

  • Promote good governance and management in South African cities
  • Analyse strategic challenges facing South African cities
  • Collect, collate, analyse, assess, disseminate and apply the experience of large city government in a South African context
  • Encourage shared learning partnerships among spheres of government in order to enhance good governance of South African cities.
 

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I worked as a ‘tactical intern’ where I provided socio-spatial visual support to a current programme under the network’s portfolio.
The culmination of this practicum took place while I supported the development, initiation and execution of a brief put together by SACN. The brief was to develop a methodology that would summarise the conference proceedings from the 2017 Urban Conference in Durban.
http://www.sacities.net/events-and-conference/urban-conference-2017
The request was to summarise the proceedings in such a way that they could be played back the next day through a video format that told a visual narrative of a possible future for South African cities. While this may seem simple, the typical process to make a video, let alone visually summarise  a live conference can take anything from a week to a few months. In order to complete this mammoth task the SACN secured the services of Marius Oosthuzien, a registered futurist, who supported in the development of  a pre-fabricated story structure that follow the day-in-a-life of a young city dweller.
The idea behind the methodology being that a team of artists/visualisers would work through out the conference day to develop a series of visual imagery that would be created from the conference discussion and be used to fill in the dreaming of t his city dweller as she moved through her day.
This summary would then be converted into a short video story and narrated in the evening and made ready for presentation and discussion the next day.
The local artists made up of Durban’s Beset and Nikhil Tricam alongside Nindya Bucktowar performed amazingly with Marius Oosthuizen guiding the summary from the conference.
The video was completed under great stress, but on time and can be seen on Youtube here:

The Unjust City

Through 1to1, a alongside Counterspace and Liz Ogbu we set out to co-develop a method of collecting stories from the City of Joburg that ‘ gave soul’ to the heavy and often inaccessible data that city officials and planners use to make decisions on how Johannesburg is run and grows.

The project sought interview a series of different city stakeholders and build a live map from the perceptions gathered – which would be overlayed with hard data. The process additionally used a method tool that collected video interviews from different city stakeholders around the terms they used and understood. The initial engagement with Liz Ogbu was supported by the Mandela Washington Fellowship’s travel grant for the YALI fellows.

The project is ongoing and has a small installation in Johannesburg’s Braamfontein where various tools and methods are being tested in this endeavour through the Backstory – Joburg Project  The current established tool is a visual projection of city data onto a small constructed model of Page View.

AT: Positive Numbers

*shared from www.aformalterrainjoburg.wordpress.com*

The Positive Numbers project was developed as one of the tangible outputs for the MOU through the 3 year engagement with the Denver leadership, residents and local NGO’s. The concept evolved from the challenges based in social enumeration and spatial planning in informal settlement upgrading processes.

The project involved linking the co-developed spatial development plan to the numbering process that typically involved spray-painting numbers on the sides of existing homes.

AT, working with Tyler B Murphy and local residents developed a system of sign making that , using colour coding, linked the spatial development to the social enumeration to allow for incremental neighborhood development to take place while waiting for governmental support.

This short film documents the process of the Positive Numbers Project which formed a part of a larger research initiative in Denver Settlement, Johannesburg in 2017.

The project was developed in partnership with active NGOs, signage and way-finding for residents in the settlement and links to the larger short-to-long term upgrading strategy of the Community Action Plan (CAP).

The Positive Numbers Project was a collaboration between the Aformal Terrain research collective and artist Tyler B. Murphy, supported by Open Societies Foundation: Higher Education Support Programme.