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 highly unequal urban areas in the world. Driven by the tacit logics embedded in their unjustly designed and built form, socio-spatial biases endure in contributing to how these inequalities spatially manifest. This inter-scalar dynamic remains in place decades after the implementation of many social and political reforms that sought to undo the legacies of previous regimes and move away from a post-Apartheid and post-colonial city paradigm.

The socio-spatial practices that led to these asymmetries were not an impassive by-product due to centuries of segregated development, but were embodied, drawn, designed, and caried out by built-environment practitioners - singular and collective individuals - who were socio-politically, technically, and ethically situated in South African cities and towns. This observation highlights an important, and under explored, dimension of inter-positional agency between the singular spatial practitioner, the collective disciplines, and the inter-scalar socio-spatial systems they are located within.

Through the research question, what could a reparative approach to spatial practice in a post-post city contribute towards addressing the embedded tacit biases of embodied socio-spatial design in South Africa?, the dissertation has adopted an attitude to knowledge production that aligns with collective efforts of Southern and Feminist scholars in developing more locational and situated forms of research through the emergent principles of Southern Urbanism. It takes seriously how local knowledges are actioned through concepts such as anecdote and how they are situated both in and beyond the study sites.  It is from these principles that the initial finding of a reparative design practice approach has been created.

A practice-orientated set of creative research methods have been developed through digital and physical interface mediums. These include visually driven explorations through site-writing, reflective animation, and online-media design. They have been guided by reflective, cross-locationally ethical, and positionally critical investigations into the embodied tacit-values uncovered through participatory engagements with a ‘constellation’ of South African spatial-design practitioners.

Through a transferable methodological lens for similar spatially unjust contexts outside of South Africa, the dissertation ultimately seeks to offer an additional partial perspective on concerns around locationally specific spatial-design practice. It does so by carefully documenting, co-developing, and proposing a responsibly propositional practice-orientated approach to repair that engages with the inter-scalar and inter-positional dynamics of how through the situated socio-spatial contextualisation of spatial-design practice within a post-post city.



  • Bennett, Jhono. “Navigating the What-What: Spirit of the Order.” Edited by Andreas Putz Meike Schalk, Tijana Stevanović, Torsten Lange. Species of Theses and Other Pieces: Dimensions Journal of Architectural Knowledge 2, no. 3 (November 22, 2022): 229–46. https://doi.org/10.14361/dak-2022-03015
  • 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