School of Built Environment & Development Studies

PhD research tackles informal settlements

Lecturer in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies Dr Judith Ojo-Aromokudu, graduated with her PhD in Architecture. Her research focused on what informs the spaces created in informal settlements and how residents live and carry out their daily activities within these spaces.
Dr Judith Ojo-Aromokudu

Ojo-Aromokudu conceptualises informal settlements as an interpretation of 21st century vernacular architecture, thereby adding to the body of knowledge on such architecture.

She was motivated by the similarities she observed between traditional dwellings in rural KwaZulu-Natal and those in the informal settlements. As an architect, Ojo-Aromokudu wanted to better understand the spatial language of informal settlements.

‘It was quite exciting engaging with the informal settlement dwellers and understanding their world from their perspective. Contrary to [the] opinion of non-residents, the informal settlement residents are purposeful individuals and households seeking a better life for themselves and their growing households,’ she said.

The findings suggest that informal settlement dwellings represent the beginnings of 21st century urban vernacular architecture, and that residents ascribe existential, aspirational and experimental meanings to their dwellings. Ojo-Aromokudu believes that this will be useful in future upgrading interventions.

Ojo-Aromokudu received financial support from the National Research Foundation, University Capacity Development Programme, Knowledge Interchange and Collaboration, African Center for Cities Fellowship, and the ERSC/ Newton funded ISULabantu project ( ).

She thanked her family, friends and supervisor for their support.

Ojo-Aromokudu intends to continue to interrogate the issues around informal settlements, both theoretically and from the perspective of upgrading programmes, towards creating more liveable human settlements for the urban economically marginalised. ‘How great it would be if self-help settlements are safe, more liveable and secure in all ramifications,’ she said.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Ms Zandile Msimango

Masters student lands top Project Management Job

Masters student in Community Development Ms Zandile Msimango has landed a top position in Project Management at Ilitha Research and Management Consultants. She will be responsible for research, project planning and management for some of the company’s clients, enabling her to put her skills to good use and to lay the foundation to achieve her goals.

Professor Brian Kearney and Ms Michele Jacobs with some of the drawings and work from the UKZN architecture archives that feature in The Berea Style publication.

UKZN Architecture drawings and work feature in The Berea Style

Curator of the UKZN Architecture library archives Ms Michele Jacobs and Emeritus Professor in the architecture discipline Brian Kearney recently exhibited prints of original and measured drawings of a vast array of KwaZulu-Natal buildings done by UKZN students and other architects.

From left: Mr Juan Solis (UKZN), Mr Lawrence Ogunsanya (UKZN), winner Mr Siyabonga Khuzwayo and Mr Chris Mungle (Corobrik Sales Manager, eThekwini).

UKZN students win top architectural awards

Architecture student Mr Siyabonga Khuzwayo was named winner of the Corobrik Regional Architecture Award. He received R10 000 in prize-money, with Master’s student Mr Kireshen Chetty taking the second prize of R8 000, and Mr Mthokozisi Sibisi receiving R6 000 for third place. A further R6 000 was awarded to Mr Mbuso Msipho for the innovative use of clay masonry in his building design.