The Bartlett School of Architecture


Jhono Bennett

Image: Jhono Bennett



Spatial Praxis in the Post-Post Apartheid City: A Southern Urbanist reflection on spatial design practice in Johannesburg, South Africa.

First and second supervisors


Within the growing discourse on what architectural researchers write, discuss and publish on South African cities, there is a distinct gap on how researchers and architectural practitioners can apply these concepts within the praxis of urban spatial design and city-making.  My proposed study aims to use tacit ways of design-research to explore the splintered perceptions of urban imaginaries and the resultant cultural contestations in practice. By employing a deliberately iterative and inductive set of methods to explore Southern ‘urbanist’ design, the project seeks to demonstrate a ‘a fertile research agenda for more grounded and spatially attuned phronetic research’ (Pieterse & Simone, 2013, p. 9). In addition I plan to employ contemporary auto-ethnographical, feminist and critical methodology of ‘situatedness’ to inform my own demographic as a white South African working in this sector and articulate a reflective ‘action-in-learning’ archive of the techniques, conditions and variables that underpin my own praxis in context of the ‘post-post Apartheid City’.

My research questions are currently framed around interrogations on the situated nature of architectural practice in contemporary Southern African cities. I ask how design-led practice sits in regard to the contested relationship between ‘European’ and ‘South African’ urban values within local city-making processes. I believe that by exploring these emergent and interdisciplinary forms of architectural research, practice and pedagogy, there exists systemic potential to give form to new ways of understanding the complexity of a context, such as ‘post-post-Apartheid ‘Johannesburg.  

My contribution to the EU-funded TACK, ‘Communities of Tacit Knowledge: Architecture and its Ways of Knowing’, Network focuses on ‘value’ in the production of tacit knowledge and is ‘engaged with the politics of the place, in which one lives, an architecture that questions the current architectural and urban practices to promote new ways of working’ (Petrescu, D & Trogal, 2017, p. 11).


  • Petrescu, D & Trogal, K. (Eds.). (2017). The Social (Re)Production of Architecture: Politics, Values and Actions in Contemporary Practice. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Pieterse, E. & Simone, A. M. (2013). Rogue Urbanism: Emergent African Cities. Jacana Media. Cape Town: Jacana Media.



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)

Bennett, J. (2018) Design Praxis in a post-Rainbow Nation City: a reflection on the limits & opportunities of spatial design led service learning in South African cities, in Through Local Eyes: Place-based approaches to emerging architectural, urban design and planning challenges in Africa and the Global South Proceedings. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Université libre de Bruxelles : Available here.

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