Welcome to the School of Built Environment and Development Studies

The School of Built Environment and Development Studies provides answers to some of the long-held questions regarding the relationship between the construction of physical infrastructure and the people who either have to use the infrastructure, or live in and around it locally and internationally. It is appropriately placed to work with both the national and local government in promoting the synergistic relationship between the built environment and social, economic, cultural, political and environmental development.

UKZN recently engaged in a reconfiguration exercise which gave birth to the College model. Within the College of Humanities, the School of Built Environment and Development Studies was formed. It is one of six Schools in the College and comprises three former Schools: Architecture; Planning and Housing; and Community Development and Development Studies. It is fully operational on the Howard College campus.

The School offers mostly non-applied or professional programmes and many of the modules serve as popular service subjects for other programmes within the College. The School of Built Environment and Development Studies boasts an experienced, balanced and high caliber group of academic staff who are experts in their fields and committed to their students.

Centres within the School

Professor Betty Mubangizi

Welcome to the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS). It’s my pleasure to be leading a School that has had many accomplishments and to be working with a highly capable team of Academic Leaders and staff members.  Our School is uniquely positioned to foster research, scholarship and community engagement through the creative and intellectual drive of our staff and students.

The School of BEDS is home to the disciplines of Architecture, Housing and Planning all of which comprise the Built Environment cluster.  It is also home to the disciplines of Community Development, Population Studies and Development Studies. The synergistic and interrelated nature of these disciplines enhances our School’s ability to provide the critical mass that responds to the challenges of underdevelopment in our communities, country, region and continent at large.

We are acutely aware that the multiplicity of socio-economic problems confronting society requires new and innovative approaches to development, policy formulation and implementation. The academic discourse of our programmes explores constructs of the built environment, society and the indisputable relationship between the two. The programmes we offer interrogate some of the long-held views on the relationship between the construction of physical infrastructure and the people who make use of it, live in it, within it and around it.  We attempt to understand how elements of the built environment need to come together in a manner that drives sustainable growth of cities, towns and rural settings. 

To this end, in the discipline of Community Development, we develop analytical skills for understanding the contexts of development programs as well as practical skills for the formulation, resourcing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of   community development projects. Graduates from the Community Development discipline acquire expertise to design and lead creative, effective and culturally-sensitive processes of responding to the twin challenge of poverty and disempowerment.

The discipline of Development Studies provides insights into the processes involved in overcoming poverty and creating healthy, wealthy and sustainable societies.  Our Development Studies graduates obtain high quality academic training in using contemporary theory to understand the processes, policy and practice of sustainable development.

In Population Studies our graduates develop awareness of human populations in relation to their size, composition and geographical distribution; the changes which occur in these over time; the factors associated with these changes and their inter-relationship with the natural, institutional and built environment. Population studies are important in development planning. Graduates of Population Studies are able to systematically identify population-related factors and strategies so as to allow development planners address pertinent issues in various sectors of the economy.      

Town and Regional Planning focuses on improving the living, leisure and working environments and conditions of people. Town and regional planners do so by estimating future needs of settlements including housing, business, industrial sites, public facilities and open spaces so as to meet the needs of growing populations of our towns and cities. Such ever increasing populations lead to rapid urbanization. Studying Housing enables our graduates to play an important role in the development of affordable housing as well as effective and efficient infrastructure while conserving historical and natural environments.

Finally, the study of Architecture encompasses planning, designing and constructing form, space and the built environment to reflect functional, technical, social, environmental and aesthetic considerations. The guiding principles of firmitas, utilitas, venustas advocated by the Roman architect Vitruvius in the early 1st century AD remain relevant today and, in part, inform our approach to teaching Architecture. Vitruvius’s principles are particularly relevant in present day South Africa which is awash with examples of the disjuncture between the physical and the social environments and where the principles of durability, utility and beauty have often been in discordance. 

The built environment which is made up of designed spaces and the activities of people in their pursuit of sustainable development of communities and populations are inter-related and inseparable. The School is probably one of the few schools in the country to incorporate all these distinct but interrelated disciplines. We are thus appropriately placed to, not only, understand the interrelationship between the built and social environment but also, through high quality research and community engagement, generate knowledge that is beneficial to the community, context specific and forward looking in nature.

In addition, the School of the Built Environment and Development Studies is home to two National Research Foundation (NRF) Research Chairs – these are; the Chair of Applied Poverty Reduction and Assessment  and the Chair in Economic Development. Further, the School is also home for the Centre for Civil Society. In combination, these help to enhance the teaching, research and community engagement experience of academics in the School.

I look forward to welcoming you to the School of the Built Environment and Development Studies

Applications for Masters in Population Studies and Masters in Development Studies for 2017 are still OPEN!

  • Architecture Student, A Finalist for Mr India South Africa 2016

    Architecture student Mr Aqueel Rabin is a finalist for the prestigious Mr India South Africa 2016 pageant.

    [09 Dec, 2016] Architecture student Mr Aqueel Rabin, recently became a finalist for the prestigious Mr India South Africa 2016 pageant. He will compete for the coveted title in Durban on December 15. ‘It feels absolutely amazing to be a finalist in this competition. It is both an honour and a privilege to be a part of such a large scale event,’ he said.

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  • Workshop on climate change and poverty reduction

    At the workshop are (from left) Professor Sarah Bracking of UKZN; former eThekwini Mayor, Mr James Nxumalo; eThekwini climate scientist, Ms Zama Khuzwayo, and the Director: Earth Systems Science at the Department of Science and Technology, Mr Leluma Matooane.

    [09 Dec, 2016] A two-day stakeholder engagement workshop on climate change and poverty reduction co-benefits was hosted by the SA Research Chair Initiative (SARChI) in Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment within UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies.

    Full story

  • Humanities Academic Presents at UN Conference on Sustainable Development and Housing

    Dr Claudia Loggia (second left) with the ISU Labantu Team.

    [18 Nov, 2016] Dr Claudia Loggia of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) presented preliminary findings from an informal settlements upgrading project in Durban at the United Nations conference on Sustainable Development and Housing held in Quito, Ecuador.

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  • UKZN Town and Regional Planning Masters Course Gets Full Accreditation

    UKZN’s Town and Regional Planning discipline celebrates full accreditation of its Masters programme.

    [18 Nov, 2016] The Town and Regional Planning Masters programme has been awarded full accreditation by the SA Council for Planners (SACPLAN).

    Full story

  • Architecture Architecture is a field related to the design of buildings and human spaces. An architect's responsibility also includes supervision of the construction of the buildings she/he designs.

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  • Community Development Community Development is a multi-disciplinary research and teaching programme which focuses on the broad areas of social development and socio-economic reconstruction.

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    Community Development
  • Development Studies Development Studies addresses key economic, political and social concerns - inequality and poverty, uneven or inadequate economic growth, maldistribution of resources and institutional failures by critically examining the role and efficacy of state policies, and interventions by other social actors, in addressing these problems.

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    Development Studies
  • Housing Housing is more than mere shelter. It transcends the physical structure and exists within a context defined by services and facilities which link individuals and families to the community, the city and regions. The Housing Programme provides a wide range of modules that aim at equipping students with economical, social, technological and policy issues that impinge on various housing production systems and how they impact on the delivery of housing.

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  • Planning Planning means the scientific, aesthetic and orderly disposition of land, resources, facilities and services with a view to securing the physical, economic and social efficiency, health and well-being of urban and rural communities. Responsible planning has always been vital to the sustainability of safe, healthy and secure urban environments.

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  • Population Studies Population Studies is a broad social science discipline concerned with the study of human population in relation to the factors associated with changes in their size, composition and distribution. The programme consists of a broad range of modules aimed at equipping students with an understanding of population processes, demographic analysis and policy formulation.

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    Population Studies<
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