Urban evolution: The new director of the Cities in Africa Signature Theme is Prof Edgar Pieterse.
London School of Economics graduate Professor Edgar Pieterse has been appointed director of the Cities in Africa project, one of five UCT Signature Themes.
These are projects that will grow research capacity in priority areas. Others are drug development, marine preservation, brain behaviour and minerals processing.
A co-founder of the Isandla Institute and a former special advisor in the Office of the Premier (Western Cape), Pieterse says the initiative will pull together the "incredibly rich" resources and expertise available in the area and allow practitioners to think holistically about challenges African cities pose.
The project will also contribute to building a network through the Association of African Planning Schools.
Pietese says the initiative will add value to existing multidisciplinary work being done towards urban development across a range of UCT faculties.
Importantly, the centre will work with the City to identify several sites for "innovative human settlement interventions".
One of these is District Six. Another is Hout Bay, with its problematic integration of diverse communities, topographical challenges and the 60% unemployment rate in Imizamo Yethu.
He said the world is moving too fast for the planning norms of 20 years ago.
"The evolution and modernisation of African cities raises fundamental questions about how we theorise and teach these things and will influence what skills our students exit with."
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