studioATdenver: 2015


The 2014 Studio AT Denver proved to be a rich, but complex process that revealed many difficult challenges faced by residents as practitioners, teachers and even as students learning the role and value in re-development in South Africa.

A smaller student engagement was planned for 2015 in parallel to AT’s work with the Denver leadership. This was done with the support of the newly launched Graduate Programme for Architecture (GPA)’s UJ Unit 2: Architecture & Agency, led by Dr. Amira Osman.

studioATdenver 2015 focus area

studioATdenver 2015: Architecture & Agency

In quarter 1 students were introduced to various sections of Johannesburg with the aim of developing a deeper understanding for context and the socio-spatial dynamics of a neighbourhood beyond the easily evident – to uncover the energy that makes up a place – with people and community at the core.

The assignments aimed to encourage students to consider the relationship between systems, infrastructure and people. Through the Habraken readings, studentes were expected to consider individual and collective needs and how these are mediated through built form. Students were encouraged to pay particular attention to levels of the built environment as well as to detect the methods of negotiation that happen in the built environment. The students were encouraged to think in terms of levels, agents and decision-making processes in every situation where they were to understand a context from the urban level to the building level.

students working on site

This studio was planned to continue into next year, as well as be incorporated into the larger working of Aformal Terrain (AT). The studioAtdenver 2015 oversaw students conducting a critical desktop study of Denver, the 2014 Studio AT Denver and relevant supporting information. From there students were asked to synthesize the relevant information sets that make up the socio-spatial nature of this neighborhood and re-represent this into a more accessible and synthesized format.

Studio Themes

The following themes were identified as key concepts for the 2014 studioATdenver and employed in 2015; each theme held a potential scale and time-frame considerations i.e. short-medium-long term strategies at dwelling scale, interface scale, system scale, settlement scale, regional scale etc. Within each of these key themes the following (more quantitative and qualitative) considerations have been identified as sub-focuses offered here as guideline to assist the students’s in their research:


• Scenario Typologies (open lot, walled stand, residual space, unused, abandoned, vacant)
• Narratives (culture, heritage, history)
• Community/ies (leadership and people groups)


• Wellbeing/Healthscapes (A rhizomatic healthscape is defined as non-fixed health provision which minimises obduracy (inflexibility) and follows open building theory (Habraken), and extending it to design scales around and above architecture.)
• Lifestyle
• Shared Space (public, common, open)


• Mobility
• Opportunity
• Ecological/ies
• Services
• Hierarchies (tribal, leadership etc)


• Access, permeability, codes
• Opportunity


• Community Knowledge
• Surrounding Conditions


• Community objectives
• Governmental objectives (city, national)
• Long-term engagement

Student Work

Academic Staff

Eric Wright  [3rd Year Coordinator]

Claudia Morgado  [3rd Year Lecturer]

Dr. Amira Osman [Unit Leader]

Jhono Bennett  [Unit 2 Tutor]

Tuliza Sindi [Unit Assistant]

Tariq Toffa [Unit 2 Tutor]

Professor Stephen Kendell

Denver Leadership, Residents & Local Government

Welcome Mchunu (Elected Liason)

Chief Mbata (Leadership Representative)

Councilor Simelane (Local Ward Councilor)

Bongmusa Hadebe (Resident Volunteer)

Bheki Zondo (Resident Volunteer)

Daphne Mabaso (Resident Volunteer)

Jabulani (Resident Volunteer)

Bongani (Resident Volunteer)

NGO & Civil Partners

Motebang Matsela (CORC)

Sandra Van Rensburg (uTshani)

Dumisani Mathebula (ISN)

UJ Students

 [3rd year] 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

[Unit2] David Spratt,  Kashiya Mbinjama, Sibusiso Lwandle, Jarryd Bates, Omphile Msindo, Clara Senatore, Andrea Relling, Luke Venter, Mfundo Magongo, Diana Wolny, Darren Van Gool, Manuel Simon, Simon Ngubeni