UKZN Town Planning lecturer and SARChI Chair for Inclusive Cities Professor Hangwelani Magidimisha-Chipungu of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies co-hosted a virtual international symposium focusing on achieving inclusive cities through a multidisciplinary approach.
Magidimisha-Chipungu partnered with the National Research Foundation (NRF), the University of Venda, the University of Johannesburg, South Africa Cities Networks (SACN), eThekwini Municipality, South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN) and the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP).
Dean and Head of the School Professor Ernest Khalema said the symposium was timely. ‘This event allows for stakeholder engagement where we can come together for social change with positive impacts for all. Through this symposium we can improve collaborative efforts for inclusive cities.’
Magidimisha-Chipungu noted ‘that urban areas are the epicentre for COVID-19 while poor infrastructure and housing have contributed to the high transmission rate of the virus. COVID-19 has exposed the inequalities in society and widened the gap between the rich and poor. With this symposium, we can find solutions to make cities inclusive.’
Providing a perspective on inclusive cities in eThekwini, Project Executive for Durban’s Catalytic Projects Unit Dr Subhatri Moonsammy spoke on city governance, its style of publicness, its challenges and the important roles local government practitioners have and play in creating and making the built environment just and inclusive. ‘Professionalism pays tribute to expert knowledge intertwined with everyday appropriations, some acceptable and some questionable, creativity, survival and resilience of citizens shaping and producing space, economies and social interactions in the public and private space. Embracing urban renewal with its fair share of dilemmas can create inclusion and exclusion practices,’ she said.
CEO South African Cities Network Mr Sithole Mbanga presented his ideas about inclusive cities in Southern Africa saying: ‘Cities need to be supported and funded properly. Our institutions need to be reconfigured to ensure that cities have the functions and support necessary for them to succeed. Through good and collaborative governance, we can steer a path towards inclusive and sustainable growth.’
Keynote speaker Professor Piotr Lorens, who is head of the Department of Urban Design and Regional Planning at Dansk University of Technology in Poland, examined: The Need of Social Face of (not only) Social Housing Focus on Post-Pandemic Challenges, during which he highlighted a growing need for affordable and accessible housing using a case study analysis of the city of Gdańsk.
‘Contemporary transformations of urban and metropolitan structures are associated with many different issues and can become a subject of interdisciplinary research,’ said Lorens. ‘Reinventing urban design is an important issue for local and regional development policies that should assist in bridging the gap between policy makers and urban designers. The physical quality of space should be of the utmost importance for future development. Given the pandemic, we should get ready in terms of planning and livability for future design.’
The second keynote was ISOCARP Secretary General Mr Frank D’hondt who spoke on: Urban Megaprojects: Can they be Participatory and Inclusive?
‘Urban megaprojects are complex by nature, especially brownfield redevelopments,’ said D’hondt. ‘As local planning tools and regulations often are not up to task to deliver these megaprojects in an effective and efficient way, regional or even national governments step in, often as part of political and entrepreneurial ambitions that might jeopardise civic engagement and social inclusion in both planning and implementation of megaprojects.
He focused on megaprojects the Belgrade Waterfront (Belgrade) and the Hellinikon (Athens) as examples of urban development that required exceptional conditions such as special regulations, additional funding, long-term timeframes, and ad hoc actor networks.
UKZN academics also part of the symposium were:
- Professor Lovemore Chipungu
- Dr Ayobami Abayomi Popoola
- Dr Yashaen Luckan
- Dr Koyi Mchunu
- Dr Sithembiso Myeni
- Dr Claudia Loggia
- Professor Ambrose Adebayo
- Mr Edmore Mutsaa
- Mr Samuel Medayese
- Professor Yanga Zesizwe Mcebazakhe
- Mrs Nompumelelo Nzimande