Co-Designing the Driver’s Seat: A call for an ‘Open’ Approach to Drawing Production in Spatial Design Practice: SOTL 2017

My first singular produced conference proceeding was for the 2017 Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in the South Conference held at the University of Johannesburg. I wrote a peice about the need for an opening up of how we make and ‘draw’ in regards to spatial design – with a focus on the artefacts we value in drawing production.

The full proceedings are avaliable here: http://www.sotlinthesouth.co.za/images/SOTL_2017_Proceedings.pdf

Abstract:

“The question of what the architect is actually doing … raises questions about authorship. Is the architect a creative author with the will to produce a specific work, or do the conditions imposed on him inevitably result in something interchangeable, something that could as easily have been produced by someone one else?” (Reidijk, 2010, p20) This inherent contravention of authorship, summarised in the prologue of Reidijk’s collection of writings in Architecture as Craft, brings to light a crucial aspect of the built environment’s process of production; rarely is a building or a space solely brought together through an individual’s vision and efforts. As a rule, the built spaces occupied by society are the result of multiple forms of agency and ownership working together at different levels. While this co-productive nature of built space is well established through Open Building discourse, the nature of the design communication artefacts to which are trusted to carry the idea to be understood through remain largely ‘closed’ within the disciplinary boundaries of the designer and select group of building professionals. Nowhere is this closure more evidently seen than in technical output produced and commoditised by large scale design practices, such as urban and city design in South Africa. The author firmly stands by the belief that in order to allow for the true co-production of the South Africa built environment to take place equitably and efficiently, spatial design practitioners need to develop more ‘open’ approaches to the practice in the built environment – in particular to allow the design communication artefacts of their discipline to be co-owned and co-produced in the face of a rapidly urbanising world. In 2015 the author of this paper assisted in the running of UJ_UNIT2; a design-led architectural research unit housed in the master’s programme at the University Of Johannesburg (UJ). The research unit embarked on an exploration of new forms of design and building exposing the nature of agency through the levels that make up the South African built environment. This experience, combined with the author’s personal work in providing socio-technical support to the grass-roots international organisation Slum/Shack Dwellers International, provide the experiential reference to support the above stated belief. This paper will examine two projects conducted through the author’s own teaching and design practice that attempted to change the manner in which designer’s see and control design communication artefacts. A summary of these experiences will then be outlined through a call for design practitioners to develop their own means of sharing control not only in the spatial drawing artefact, but in the design itself. This is done with the hope of supporting a growing national movement that seeks to responsibly relinquish power through design in the aim of achieving social and spatial justice in South Africa

Citation:

Bennett, J. (2017) ‘Co-Designing the Driver’s Seat: A call for an “Open” Approach to Drawing Production in Spatial Design Practice’, in The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in the South (SOTL) Conference Proceedings. Johannesburg, South Africa, ZA: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in the South, 2017, p. 121. Available at: http://www.sotlinthesouth.co.za.

ASF Change by Design: Cape Town 2017

The 2017 Architecture Sans Frontiere’s Change by Design Programme took place in Cape Town in support of the Development Action Group (DAG)’s work with their Active Citizens Programme on 3 specific sites: Kensington, Khayalitsha and Oude Moulen.

The workshops’s goals were to support grassroots movements with strategic tools in action-research, spatial enumeration and strategy building across the grassroots members stakeholder and beneficiary groups.

 

The workshop ran for 2 weeks and employed an iterative action research methodology to support the unique needs of each site with the workshop particpants and DAG.


  

The result of the two week process was a set of grounded spatial research that was intended to support the grassroots leadership’s future engagement with the City of Cape Town. Each group developed a small visual summary of the research in a shared graphic language that was presented back to a large stakeholder group at the district 6 Museum in Cape Town.

At this feedback session each local leadership group shared their findings from the workshop and hosted  a small game that was designed by the ASF workshop team as a means to not only share the feedback from each site, but build a dialogue between local leaders and the workshop participants which included City of Cape Town Officals, other NGO’s and other grassroots organisations.

FOLIO Vol.1 PUPAE: Not a ‘No-Go’ Zone

FOLIO is a critical, creative and contemporary Journal of African Architetcure and a product of GSA Imprints, an initiative launched by the Graduate School of Architecture (GSA) at the University of Johanesburg.

Volume 1: PUPAE was launched in 2017 and comprises a collection of critical writing peices, photo essays and design research outputs.

View the first issue here: https://issuu.com/foliojournalofafricanarchitecture/docs/folio_issuu 

Myself and Sumayya Valley of Counterspace put together a short writing peice that was supplemented by a series of drawings created by Sumayya from a previous project we had completed in inner-city Johannesburg.

AT: Community Action Plan Hand Book

*shared from www.aformalterrainjoburg.wordpress.com*

One of the most important outputs for the engagement with the Denver leadership was the Spatial Layout for the Community Action Plan (CAP). The layout was co-developed with residents, leadership and driven by the data and social capital built during the studioATdenver programmes and additional work conducted by AT.

The layout responded to key issues of emergency vehicle access, shared space, social cohesion patterns and green space allocation identified during the studios and larger forum discussions.

The spatial layout, alongside a series of support materials was packaged into an accessible and shareable format. AT conceptualized this in the form of a Hand Book that could be easily distributed and used format as a ‘Toolbox’.

A day-planner format was conceptualsied as a possible structure for this handbook, as many local leaders already used this type of booklet in their work. The idea behind the small format, would allow for the books to be used together to forma a larger layout (A1 size) if brought together.

NUSP Incremental Building: Teaching Module

In 2013, through 1to1, I worked with BOOM Architects under Shisaka Development Management Services to write the incremental infrastructure module for the NUSP Socio-Technical Support Manuel for City Officials in Informal Settlement Upgrading for South Africa.


The Section 9 module visually unpacked the variables to consider when allowing for incremental upgrading in informal settlement development as well as requirements for technical allocation.

The full toolkit should be available online at: http://www.upgradingsupport.org

University of Sheffield – Masters in Urban Design 2015/2016

In 2016 I was invited by Dr Beatrice De Carli to assist in the teaching of the Masters in Urban Design at the University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture for the ‘Design from Afar Module”.

We set the brief in Johannesburg’s Braamfontein and aimed to create a teaching/research model that would allow students in Sheffield to work with students from Johannesburg in a digital participative pedagogical system.

https://walkbraamfontein.wordpress.com

The main interface for this was a blog website, https://walkbraamfontein.wordpress.com/,  that housed the students work and created an international platform of engagement. 

 

Click to enlarge

The artefacts the students designed were carefully considered in order to allow them to be easily transferred to a digital movie format, but also function as workshop tools back in South Africa for the local practices and students.

Local Studio provided the research material and the framework of making a central park in Braamfontein’s Juta street – a project implemented and driven by Tom Chapman. 

ASF Change by Design: Cape Town 2015

Change by Design 2015 – Cape Town

Architecture Sans Frontiers – United Kingdom (ASF-UK) has been conducting their Change by Design workshops since 2009 in various counties; Brazil, Kenya, England and Ecuador.
These workshops explore participatory design as a tool for advocacy and socio-spatial transformation in informal settlements, in collaboration with grass roots organizations, local NGOs and governmental agencies involved in slum upgrading and housing rights.

This year they arranged the workshop in Cape Town, alongside the Development Action Group (DAG)‘s Re-Imagining the City campaign and invited myself amongst many other practitioners to facilitate the workshop:

“The focus of our upcoming workshop is the neighbourhood of Woodstock, in Cape Town, South Africa. Here, ASF-UK is teaming up with the NGO Development Action Group (DAG) and diverse groups of local stakeholders to explore how inner-city urban regeneration can be re-imagined as a process that brings about more equitable and democratic city development in Cape Town”

 
The workshop employs a holistic approach at 4 different scales: Dwelling, Community, City and Policy & Planning that works with existing initiatives (DAG) to support work being conducted on the ground.

The entire workshop was documented here:

Cape Town Workshop

We worked from DAG’s newly opened DAG Cafe, a space planned to be a platform for future discussion around DAG’s Re-Imagining Settlement’s Programme.

I was assigned to the the Dwelling group where we developed a tool to capture the Life World Mapping of the various sites we set to engage with.
 
 

And began the process of participatively mapping with residents of the various sites DAG ia involved with.

Gympie Street Mapping
Bromwell Mapping

Pine Road Mapping

Participative Workshops

These findings were then works- hopped through a series of exercises conducted at the DAG Cafe,

This exercise was carefully designed and facilitated by the ASF Team in two parts, one that asked residents to ‘build’ their dream home, then asked residents to discuss together aspects of neighbourhood and possible links to future threats.

Individual Exercise

Group Exercise

The findings from all the exercises were carefully collected and collated into the final day workshop that brought together all the various scales of the workshop as well as various stakeholders in DAG’s projects.

Final Day Exercise

These final workshops were crucial in determining the collective elements of those involved in the different aspects of DAG’s work.

Workshop End


The workshop concluded with a facilitated discussion between the participants and the CBO’s. The next step from the facilitation team is to complete the report for DAG as well as package and share the data gathered during the workshop .

Reports from previous CBD Workshops:

Juta Street Socio+Spatial Mapping

Through 1to1, I was commissioned by Local Studio alongside Urbanists for Equity (U4E) to complete a quick, robust and detailed survey of Juta Street in Braamfontein by Local Studio.

Local Studio required a detailed study of the area to support a proposal for an urban park in
Braamfontein and wanted a detailed analysis of the user groups, activities and socio-spatial nature of the area.


1to1 and U4E employed the services of UJ students and completed the entire study in a single
week.

This work underpinned a later project with the University of Sheffield’s Masters in Urban Design

Used for work with Sheffield University

University of Sheffield – Masters in Urban Design 2016/2017

  I was again invited by Dr. Beatrice De Carli to teach in the Urban Design Masters at Sheffield for the 2016/2017 teaching period. This was done as part of a larger network project that has been set up with University of Sheffield (Sheffield, UK), Nanjing University (Nanjing, China), CEPT (Ahmedabad, India) and the University of Johannesburg […]

University of Sheffield – Masters in Urban Design 2015/2016

In 2016 I was invited by Dr Beatrice De Carli to assist in the teaching of the Masters in Urban Design at the University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture for the ‘Design from Afar Module”. We set the brief in Johannesburg’s Braamfontein and aimed to create a teaching/research model that would allow students in Sheffield […]

Sheffield Mobility: Spatial Design Research

2018 marks the final year of a 3 year mobility exchange between the University of Johannesburg’s DSD Desis Lab and the Sheffield School of Architecture. RAUM #2 Day 1. Rathul sharing the debate on Public Space as a teaching method for CEPT A post shared by Jhono Bennett (@jhonobennett) on May 8, 2017 at 7:12am […]

PEACE Module

Through 1to1 I was commissioned by the PEACE Foundation to design a multi-purpose rural centre that will be deployed to tactical areas across northern South Africa. These PEACE Centres will be used to support various NGO’s and institutional operations that work with and for the PEACE Foundation.


The prototype centre has been designed to support an existing waste management facility in
Senwabarwana (Bochum), Limpopo. This centre’s main activity is through educational training
around computer literacy and environmental awareness.

UIA World Congress 2014

XXV International Union Of Architects World Congress 2014

The 25th International Union of Architects World Congress of Architects, UIA 2014 Durban, will be held at the International Convention Centre in Durban from 3-7 August 2014. This is the first time that this Congress is being held in Southern Africa and we are expecting 6000 delegates from around the world. 
 
The International Union of Architects (UIA) organizes a World Congress every three years, and there have been 24 previous UIA Congresses. The UIA is a non-governmental organization accredited by the United Nations, and it represents professional associations of architects in 124 countries, and approximately 1,3 million architects worldwide. The UIA secretariat, located in Paris, is responsible for the Union’s management and general administration. 



The selection of the Congress host city is made six years in advance. At the UIA 2008 Torino Congress, the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) won the bid to host this triennial World Congress with the support of the national Department of Public Works, barely nine years after SAIA’s post-Democracy readmission to the UIA.
 

 



The UIA 2014 World Congress was held in my home town Durban, South Africa in August 2014, where I was honoured to be invited to participate on several platforms at the congress.

My involvement included; a speaker at the Opening Address of the Student Programme, a debater in the Student Debate, a Reviewer on the Scientific Committee and the initial researcher and member on the panel of Warwick Experts that advised the student competition.

During the congress, I presented a co-authored paper, as well as presenting my work in both the Global Studio Seminar and the Architectural Education Forum.

Architecural Education Forum – Education Otherwhere
Global Studio Seminar

CONFERENCE PAPER PRESENTED: 


Our understanding of architecture has significantly changed over time. Having been trainedin a post-modernist idiom in the eighties, one of the authors has witnessed the transformationof the profession and architectural design teaching over this time. Younger architects havebeen educated at a time of intense debates on relevance, justice and new professional values.They are now having to invent new roles for themselves and develop new methods of practiceas they navigate this relatively uncharted terrain.The teaching of architecture in general, and residential architecture in particular, has significantly changed over the years. Rooted in participatory design approaches and post-modern teaching pedagogy in architecture, this paper re-thinks the design studio, which isnow many times extended beyond the confines of the university campus, building metaphorical bridges between academia and communities.
 
The idea of catalysts is key in terms of achieving an intimate understanding of the settingswithin which students and staff operate and where project sites are located. Thinking in termsof catalysts influences processes of identifying potential community collaborators as well as potential project briefs and sites.Some individuals/groups are perceiv ed as “institutions” and champions within their communities: in the sense that they are known, respected, accepted and many activities seemto either be initiated by them, supported by them or revolve around them. Identifying theseindividuals/groups is paramount to the success of a project. 
 
These individuals/groups becomeagents of change. Planning and design interventions may either enhance or undermine thisagency capacity and the potential to institutionalise it. This concept is linked to previousresearch and writing on urban acupuncture and agency in the built environment. Identifying where interventions could take place, what kind of intervention and anticipatingthe kind of influence it would have on the surroundings is critical. Mapping existing energiesand forces in an area may provide indicators as to where input may have the most potential for triggering a variety of responses. 
 
That is after all the ultimate aim: to intervene where itwill generate a response thus allowing more agents to become actively involved in the formulation of the built environment. Key people/groups and small projects are thus seen as vehicles for collaboration,development and learning. This paper presents a process of engagement between the design studio and communities in a proposed framework for this particular component in theteaching of architecture. These generic concepts are reinforced through some case studiesand reflections on practice

The conference was a week long intense experience with an overwhelming programme, packed with inspiring speakers and inspired congress goers. It was great to see Durban experienced by such influential people and I hope the themes of ‘Otherwhere’ carry through long with those who attended.

Aformal Terrain (AT)

In 2014, we (Eric Wright, Claudia Morgado & myself) as a team of architects, lectures and urban researchers assembled a collective architecture/urbanism/landscape laboratory which closely engages with complex urban conditions of South African. We termed this collective Aformal terrain (AT)

Our first experimentation with this collective was through a critical studio with the leadership of Denver, Informal Settlement in Johannesburg CBD through the studioATdenver. This project was established to take course over  a period of 3-5 years and support s much larger development process that Denver is already a part of in regard to the Department of Human Settlement’s work in Gauteng and South Africa. In addition AT worked on a variety of projects in our defined research area:

* shared from www.aformalterrainjoburg.wordpress.com *

Aformal Terrain is a collaborative research group based at the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture.

Background

Aformal Terrain (AT) is a collaborative and collective architecture/urbanism/landscape group who closely engages with complex urban conditions.

AT focuses on integrating resources and skills towards promoting awareness and generating appropriate responses to the context of rapidly changing and often unstable contemporary urban phenomena.

This approach is underpinned by people-driven methodologies for engagement, research, design responses and planning strategies.

Aformality

The use of the term ‘Aformal’ frames a critical investigation (immersion) into complex spatial, social, cultural, economic and physical urban scenarios as an ‘in-between’ condition, or terrain. This direction is rooted in working with, and, within urban informal settlements with a focus on incremental in-situ upgrading and organic urbangrowth – interrogating current polarised definitions of the ‘formal’ and ‘informal’, and the often confused interpretations between legality and illegality.

Each Studio (project, exhibition, publication etc) is aimed at identifying and interconnecting multiple role-players (actors).

This occurs through an immersive, collaborative and co-produced process of engagement, establishing a platform to enable trans-disciplinary exchange and capacitation, consequently activating public, private and community joint efforts.

AT directs this purpose to three areas of action:

Teaching & Learning

To generate an awareness of varying urban conditions at multiple scales ranging from regional, through neighbourhood, to specific people groups.
This action relies on trans-disciplinary collaborative exchange with the aim of leading to well-informed and achievable plans that assist and support community-led development.

An embedded intention here is to further inform current professionals, settlement residents, local/city officials and current students (future professionals) about the nuances and complexities of participatory processes through immersive, real life projects (studios).

Awareness & Knowledge

Strongly tied to teaching-and-learning processes this action is underpinned by the co-production of knowledge and information through collective and mutual exchanges. This process identifies two main sources towards the production of relevant and useful knowledge:

Existing Data – sourcing, analyzing and sharing current data about the specific area of work/study. This includes; local upgrade plans (at city level), National upgrade plans (NUSP and the like), Global references and tools (investigating ‘Global South’ relationships and networks).

Local Knowledge – identifying collective community plans and objectives through discussions and exchange with local residents. This process aims to build on local knowledge with the aim of drawing connections between bottom-up and top-down processes.

Real Projects 

AT intends to cultivate long-term sustainable relationships with the networks generated through the teaching-and-learning studios.

Real Projects refers to this intention – to identify potential roles for professionals and spatial practitioners through on-the-ground collaborative processes – assisting community action plans and governmental upgrade plans through providing relevant spatial and design services fitted to contexts of informal settlements.

AT Team: Eric Wright (BOOM Architects), Claudia Morgado (BOOM Architects), Jhono Bennett (1to1 – Agency of Engagement), Stephen Hoffe (Build A Future), Katrine Lategan (ARUP),

AT Collaborators: Tyler B Murphy (Sins of Style), Tuliza Sindi (BRN WSH), Jabu Makhubu (UJ Lecturer), Blanca Calvo (CORC), Motebang Matsela (CORC), Gloria Pavita (UJ Student), Taylor Holloway (1to1 – Agency of Engagement), Phil Astley (UCL)

Denver Leadership & Volunteers: Welcome Mchunu, Bongmus Hadebe, Bheki Zondo, Daphne Mabaso, Jabulani , Bongani

South African Shack Dwellers Alliance: Sandra Van Rensburg, Rosy Mashimbye, Maureen Sikepo, Dumisani Mathebula

Local War Councillors: Clnr Neuren, Clnr Simelane

Critical Friends: Simon Sizwe Mason (City of Joburg – Management), Moabi Pekone (City of Joburg – Region F: Housing), Nicolette Pingo (Johannesburg Development Agency), Monty Narsoo (NUSP)

University of Johannesburg Students: [2014] Ayanda Madi, Daniele  Cronje, Jade Botes, Jamela Mkansi, Martin Jones, Mitchel Thirwell, Moeketsi Phori, Mulalo Mafela, Nathan Abrahams, Lucille Jacobs, Wandile Bongwa Mahlanga, Gareth How, Mohau Moidi, Brian Maila, Victor Martins, Ashish Nathoo, Alwyn-Jay Pretorius, Musa Mathe, Joana  Ferro, Dewald le Roux, Crystal Francis, Melissa Brandt,Vikash Mithal, Tlali Nyareli, Sibusiso Lwandle, Pierre Perrault, Kerry Trebble, Isabella da Rocha, Megan Wilson, Wandile Mkhwanazi, Simone Pretorius, Siphosezwe Mahlangu, Thabang Semenya, Mohammed R Suliman, Travis Lee, Mfundo Magongo, Julian Almond, Aisha Balde, Rudelle Bezuidenhout, Kgaogelo Mashego, Karabelo Mlangeni, Binaica Morar, Kholokazi Ngoma, Ruben Smit, Jessica Rousseau, Kagiso Teke, Kyle Blake, Jaco Jonker, Maruscha Govenden, Palesa Khumalo, Ricardo De Sousa, Armand Barnard, Kagiso Bokaba, Nyasha Chirinda, Yusuf Dadabaay, Rosalie Ferreira, Lance Ho Hip, Tebogo Ntsoane, Thabo Ranaka, Mandy Shindler, Roland Britz, Llenette Jones, Lindani Langa, Tebogo Madito, Kashiya Mbinjama , Thabang Montle, Carol Phophi, Roberto Pinheiro, Leme Swanepoel, Nicholas Abrahams, Lerato Bothloko, Sanjay Jeevan, Tebogo Kgatla, Irena Konstantinova, Morena Mahlare, Tebogo Mokgwetsane, Njabulo Ndaba, Joshua Sampson, Reinhard Van Niekerk

[2015] Allen N, Da Rocha I, Erasmus C, Gama J, Jamieson R, Kubayi T, Mabaso M, Makutu N, Mamba S, Mantle W, Mokgwetsane T, Molekoa K, Mothoagae O, Msiska A, Musehane K, Naicker S, Ncube  T, Ramos D, Samsodien C, Thirlwell M, Trebble K, Tshivhase M, Vasconcelos T, Nkoana M, Moutloatse L, Adu Agyei D, Behane   M, Botlhoko L, Carstens G, Chokoe M, Dekker A, Di bon       J, Fourie B, George R, Hollis K, Jama A, Madi A, Makofane T, Malanda J, Mashinini N, Mayes J, Mlambo S, Mlangeni K, Paiva E, Perrault P, Phaladi K, Russwurm J, Saloojee Y, Suliman M, Wilmans M, Tsheoga M, Gono T, Carvalho M, Dart T, Ebrahim F, Greeff M, Isia F, Knobloch A, Makhubele N, Masango B, Mazwi N, Mntambo W, Moore    S, Murakata P, Mvakade Z, Ngobeni V, Sikepe M, Sithole     S, Tatham P, Thomas  N, Van Rooyen R, Zwane            J, Machaka M, Mahlangu R

[2016] Simon Ngubeni (UJ Student), Yoana Hristova (UJ Student), Kobus Marais (UJ Student), Tiisetso Mokgopo (UJ Student), , Tresor Mbayahe(UJ Student)

AT Organisations
AT Project Supporters
AT Funders & Supporters
Open Societies Foundation: Higher Education Support Programme

This trajectory of critical engagement builds on methods and intentions developed through earlier formative collaborative platforms;

informalStudio: Ruimsig (2011) [i]

informalStudio: Marlboro South (2012) [ii]

The core underpinnings, purpose and relevance of AT stems from and builds on the development of,and involvement in,these preceding studios

[i]informalStudio: Ruimsig (http://2610south.co.za/gallery24.php) Teaching staff: Thorsten Deckler (principal at 26’10 south Architects), Alexander Opper (director of architecture master’s programme, UJ), Lone Poulsen (architect and urban planner at ACG Architects), Melinda Silverman (urban design theory, UJ). \Ruimsig Community: The community of the Ruimsig informal settlement, including Dan Moletsane, Dingaan Matia, the community leadership and the eight ‘community architects’: Irene Mohale, Rosalina Mphuti, Julia Mashaba, Mildred Thapeni, Albert Masibigiri, Jemina Mokoena, Watson Sibara, and Alfred Mthunzi.UJ Students: Dewald Badenhorst, Dean Boniface, Dirk Coetser, Dana Gordon, Zakeeya Kalla, Daniel Lyonga, Julian Manshon, Matthew Millar, Karabo Mokaba, Jarryd Murray, Trisha Parbhoo, Sean Pillan, Taswald Pillay, Miguel Pinto, John Saaiman, Salome Snyman.Support: Goethe-Institut South Africa has financially and logistically supported the project from its inception; Steve Topham (NUSP); Andy Bolnick (Ikhayalami); Connie Molefe (of the Roodepoort Athletics Stadium management); Max Rambau & André Mengi (CORC); Tolo Phule and Lungelo Mntambo (Delite Visual Archives Studios); Pheagane “Jakes” Maponya, Pumla Bafo & Thabo Molaba (City of Johannesburg); Lisa Ngagledla, Nomahlubi Ncoyini & Pricilla Mario (for sharing the expertise of the Sheffield Road community in Cape Town); Mzwanele Zulu (ISN, Cape Town); Thembile Majoe, Sihle Mbatha, Phiwe Makubu, Mfundisi Masithe (ISN, Gauteng); & Andisa Bidla (CoJ Informal Settlement Formalisation & Regularisation). 

[ii]informalStudio: Marlboro South (http://www.informalstudio.co.za/)
Teaching staff: Thorsten Deckler (principal at 26’10 south Architects),Anne Graupner (principal at 26’10 south Architects), Alexander Opper (director of architecture master’s programme, UJ), Eric Wright (3rd year lecturer, UJ), Suzette Grace (3rd year lecturer, UJ), Claudia Morgado (3rd year lecturer, UJ). Support staff (UJ): Melinda Silverman, Suzette Grace, Leon Krige, Amira Osman, Annemarie Wagener, Absalom Makhubu, Dr.Finzi SaidiMarlboro South Community: The community of the Marlboro South informal settlement, including the Marlboro Warehouse Crisis Committee (MWCC): Charles Gininda, Thapelo Mogane, August Tswai, Maluleke David, Loveson Motlapa, and the community architects: Winnie Ngubane, Queenie Nkosi, Happiness Nkosi, Khanyisile Soncgca, Fezeke, Baliswa Mahono, Khanyi Ncube, Nonthando Madondo, Thabo Masenyetse, Phili Thafeni, Karabo Mokaba, Promise Nxumalo, Agnes Lekgotla, Mapule Lekgotla, Anna Mathibedi, Melissa, Jabulani Dwiazawa,Thulie Shabalala, Wonderboy Butheklezi, Andries Tzumbezo, Asanda Magqabi, Ayanda Libala,UJ Students: Francois Mercer, Elaine Engelbrecht, Francisco Hamilton Alves, David Cloete, Rick van Heerden, Shani Fakir, Nakedi Nkoana, Lance HO Hip, Brent Proudfoot, Renee van Rooyen, Dylan Watkins with Steffen Fischer, Jolien Dreyer, Eugene Ncube, Naeem Kooreyshi, Katrin Tenim, Martin Bam, Philip van As, Debbie Pienaar ,Laura Strydom, Katty Harris, Dewald Coetzer, Jurgen Rubirske, Lemohang Sekhoto, Shyam Patel, Joseph Matebane, Ashlea Weaver, Calvin Copeling, Basil Moutsatsos, Nhlamulo Ngobeni, Samantha Trask, Jaco Jonker, Lungelo Zulu, Alex Verissmo, Grant Woodward, Jaques Wienekus, Motebang Matselela, Sachin Mistry, Caitlin Bell, Robin Theobald, Keron Muller, Michelle Jordaan, Thabiso Siwana, Gareth Jones, Marc Sherrat, Glen Jordan, Lucille Jacobs, Tlale Masiu, Hanle van HuyssteenSupport: Goethe Institut South Africa has financially and logistically supported the project from its inception; Steve Topham (NUSP); Andy Bolnick & Ryan Bosworth (iKhayalami); Sandra Van Rensburg, Andre Mengi, Jhono Bennett & Jacqueline Cuyler (CORC); Tolo Phule and Lungelo Mntambo (Delite Visual Archives Studios); South African Shack Dwellers International Alliance (SDI): Rose Molokoane (FEDUP), Patrick Magebhula (ISN) 

PublicActs/Joburg ACT # 5 & # 6 Socio Spatial Action Research within Mai Mai Market

This project was initiated by the PublicActs/Johannesburg (www.publicacts.org) programme, conceived and curated by Katharina Rohde & Thireshen Govender, under interventions (Act #5 and Act #6) of the greater PublicActs/Johannesburg Project:

Mai Mai Market in the morning (ImageJhono Bennett)


“Focusing on new and emerging public spaces PublicActs/Johannesburg aims to investigate and showcase its many different manifestations and potentials.

Producing a catalogue of urban public conditions based on criteria that respond to the contemporary reality of our city and represent its diverse geographies, six sites are identified for their critical value. These meander between the New Imaginaries, the Everyday, the Grand and Spectacular, the Ephemeral and Politics, Power and Protest.

Acknowledging different interpretations of publicness, six creative collaborators alongside local actors are invited to produce a series of actions, site-specific interactions or performances in defined sites, to provoke discussion and the imagination around future public spaces in Johannesburg.

The project culminates into 24hour choreographed Public Acts which invites spectators to playfully engage and interact with the creative interpretations on site. Additionally to the artistic outputs, the festival program will engage local stakeholders and a greater public to critically reflect and comment on the projects findings, speculations and provocations. This will allow for thought about the conditions and production of public space in Johannesburg

With the research and experiences generated we aim to challenge urban actors and decision-makers to engage and construct public spaces in Johannesburg in innovative and democratic ways. Our findings and creative outputs shall function as a guide on how to approach, use, misuse, appropriate and imagine public space in African cities”. (text taken from www.publicacts.org)

The Kwa-Mai Mai socio-spatial action research intervention was the 6 week culmination of a critical process of engagement with the Kwa-Mai Mai Committee and the Mai Mai users. This article explains the process undertaken by those involved and summarises the experience highlighting the key findings and discoveries along the way.
 
 
*
Through a series of discussions, informal workshops and mapping exercises fellow PublicActs provacateurs, Liliania Transplantor and WayWord Sun of AMBush Gardening Collective and myself began investigating the complex and layered qualities of the socio-spatial dynamic of the Kwa-Mai Mai Bazaar (referred to locally as the Mai Mai Market and the entire area as Mai Mai) in Johannesburg’s Central Business District. 
What was amazing was not in the fact that they were taken, but that as the day progressed the chairs were slowly returned to the site as the extended leadership from within the Mai Mai Market exercised its control over the entire Mai Mai site, and through co-ordinated movements all chairs were returned back to their original placement.
Mai Mai Food Court before the Act began – with chairs re-appropriated (ImageJhono Bennett)
Mai Mai Food Court before the Act began – as the chairs began returning (ImageJhono Bennett)
Mai Mai Food Court before the Act began – as the chairs began returning (ImageJhono Bennett)
Mai Mai Food Court before the Act began – all chairs returned (ImageJhono Bennett)
This finding eluded to a much more complex and organised form of leadership and governance that exists in Mai Mai. Simultaneously, more intricate territories amongst the food court users were revealed as the chairs became a symbol of territorial control as users claimed ownership over various arrangements.

Findings

While the experiment did not meet the original aim of constructively provoking forms of seating and gathering it revealed many of the intangible connections and controls that allow the Mai Mai Food Court to work as a highly successful and productive democratic public space in appearance, but a deeply territorialised and governed space in the public realm.
(ImageJhono Bennett)

Looking Forward – and Back

Working Draft of Process of Engagement – see completed version at www.whatdoesmaimaimean.blogspot.com
(ImageJhono Bennett)
This initial engagement was the first step in a much longer envisioned engagement from both 1to1 – Agency of Engagement and AMbush Gardening Collective with the Kwa-Mai Mai Committee and its users in their own goals of developing Mai Mai into their collective vision.
What the process revealed to us, and our project partners, was how crucial the delicate and negotiated process of trust building that is required through critical engagement to even begin to uncover important social and spatial relationships areas such as the Mai Mai Market.
More so, how important it is for city planners and spatial practitioners to understand that not all systems reveal themselves at face value and often in such complex and rich public spaces, one needs to more engaged and critical when interrogating public space towards an understanding or an intervention.