The Bartlett School of Architecture


Jhono Bennett

Jhono Bennett



Locating Spatial Practice Within the Post-post City: a Situated Southern Urban Design Inquiry Around How

First and second supervisors


South African cities remain among the most unequal urban areas in the world; the tacit logics of their designed built forms play a significant role in how these inequalities continue to manifest decades after social and political reform. The socio-spatial city-making forces that led to these asymmetries were not an impassive by-product of centuries of segregated development, but were conceptualised, drawn, designed and implemented by built environment practitioners –  individual spatial designers who were socially, historically, politically, technically and ethically situated in South Africa.

This observation is made to highlight an important, and under-explored, inter-scalar dimension of agency between the individual practitioner, the disciplines, and the socio-spatial systems that require more situated explorations of spatial  practice in regards to city-making in contemporary South Africa, as well as in similar spatially unjust contexts. In response to this observation,  the doctoral study will respond to the growing efforts of Southern scholars in developing more locational and theoretically contextualised forms of urban research and engagement and will employ Southern Urbanist principles from which to develop and explore the research questions.

The study is positioned at the disciplinary intersection of architecture, urban studies and arts-practice in developing a situated design-research methodology to creatively, ethically and iteratively guide the approach. In addition, the study will work with a community of contemporary local practitioners through a series of engagements around the nature of spatial design practice as well as a practice-orientated auto-interrogation of my own work over the last decade.

Ultimately this inquiry will attempt to locate and reveal the various tacit values embedded in the how of socio-spatially focused post-Apartheid South African spatial design practice, and seeks to contribute an additional partial perspective to the ongoing conversations around Southern urbanism through the development and documentation of a practice-orientated situated research-methodology that focuses on spatial design in Southern cities.



Bennett, Jhono. “Teaching Design in a Post-Rainbow Nation A South African Reflection on the Limits and Opportunities of Design Praxis.” In African Cities Through Local Eyes. Experiments in Place-Based Planning and Design, edited by Faldi Giuseppe, Axel Fisher, and Luisa Moretto, 1st ed., 151–72. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Springer: The Urban Book Series, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-84906-1

Mitlin, D., Bennett, J., Horn, P. King, S. Makau, J. Masimba Nyama, G. (2020) Knowledge Matters: The Potential Contribution of the Coproduction of Research, The European Journal of Development Research, 32, pp. 544–559. doi: 10.1057/s41287-020-00277-w.

1to1, - Agency of Engagement (2019) A Reflective Engagement: 2010-2018. Edited by J. Bennett. Johannesburg, South Africa: 1to1 - Agency of Engagement. Available here.  

ASF-UK (2018) Change by Design 2017: Cape Town - Methods and Tools for Socio-Technical Support. Edited by J. Bennett. Cape Town, South Africa. Available here.

Bennett, J. (2018) Un-learning “community”: reflections on socio-technical spatial design support with Slovo Park, in Out-Of-The Box 2018 Conference Proceedings. Pretoria, South Africa, ZA: 2018 2018 Department of Science and Technology and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR)

Horn, P; Mitlin, D, Bennett, J; Chitekwe-Biti, B & Makau, J. (2018) Towards Citywide Participatory Planning: Emerging Community-Led Practices in Three African Cities, SSRN Electronic Journal. GB: Elsevier BV. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.3225770.

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 here.
ISBN: 978-0-86970-803-3


Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions within the European Framework Program Horizon 2020:  TACK / ‘Communities of Tacit Knowledge: Architecture and its Ways of Knowing’ Network