Head of Department


Chrisna du Plessis joined the Department of Architecture at the University of Pretoria in 2015 after teaching sustainable construction, mechanical services and research methodology at the Department of Construction Economics since 2011. She is also Visiting Professor at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, and teaches a module on sustainability blueprints in an MSc programme at the National University of Singapore. She has been external examiner for the professional master’s degree at several South African universities, as well as Chalmers University of Technology, and has also examined a number of international PhD candidates.


Chrisna is serving as the CIB (International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction) Theme Coordinator for Sustainable Construction, and has acted as a juror for national and international architecture competitions, including the Holcim Foundation Sustainable Construction Award and the European Solar Decathlon. She has also been invited to speak as keynote or invited plenary speaker at 47 national and international conferences, including the 150th Convention of the American Institute of Architects, the World Building Congress and the World Sustainable Building Congress, and is a regular guest speaker at industry events.




Books & book chapters

  1. Hes, D. & Du Plessis, C. 2015. Designing for Hope: Pathways to Regenerative Sustainability. London: Earthscan for Routledge.         
  2. Du Plessis, C. 2013. Using the long lever of value change. In: Crocker, R. & Lehmann, S. eds. Motivating Change: Sustainable Design and Behaviour in the Built Environment. Oxon, UK: Routledge Earthscan series, 92-108.
  3. Du Plessis, C. 2011. Chaos and resilience: the Johannesburg experience. In: Charlesworth, E. & Adams, R. eds. The EcoEdge: Urgent design challenges in building sustainable cities. London: Routledge, 50-59.
  4. Du Plessis, C. 2009. Urban sustainability science as a new paradigm for planning. In: Van den Dobbelsteen, A., Van Timmeren, A. & Van Dorst, M. eds. Smart Building in a Changing Climate. Amsterdam: Techne Press, 31-46.
  5. Du Plessis, C. 2008. A conceptual framework for understanding social-ecological systems. In: Burns, M. & Weaver, A. eds. Exploring Sustainability Science – A Southern African Perspective. Stellenbosch: Sun Press, 59-90.
  6. Du Plessis, C. 2000. The links between crime prevention and sustainable development. In: Lawrence, R. ed. Sustaining Human Settlement: a challenge for the new millennium. North Shields, UK: Urban International Press, 239-270.


Journal articles

  1. Du Plessis, C. & Brandon, P.S. 2015. An ecological worldview as basis for a regenerative sustainability paradigm for the built environment. Journal of Cleaner Production, 109, 53-61.
  2. Du Plessis, C. & Du Plessis, T.A.P. 2013. Funding the implementation of solar water heating in low-income housing in South Africa through the clean development mechanism. Journal of Construction, 6(1), 18-24.
  3. Du Plessis, C. 2012. Towards a regenerative paradigm for the built environment. Building Research and Information, 40(1), 7-22.
  4. Du Plessis, C. & Cole, R.J. 2011. Motivating change: shifting the paradigm. Building Research and Information, 39(5), 436-449.
  5. Landman, K. & Du Plessis, C. 2007. The impact of gated communities on urban sustainability: a difference of opinion or a matter for concern? South African Journal of Town and Regional Planning, 51, 16-25.
  6. Du Plessis, C. 2007. A strategic framework for sustainable construction in developing countries. Construction Management and Economics, 25(1-3), 67-76.
  7. Du Plessis, C. 2005. Action for Sustainability: preparing an African plan for sustainable building and construction. Building Research & Information, 33(5), 1-11.
  8. Du Plessis, C. & Landman, K. 2004. An analysis of the sustainability of human settlements in South Africa. Translated into Italian in L. Fregolent, F. Musco (a cura di), Le trasformazioni dei paesaggi Sudafricani, Archivio di Studi Urbani e Regionali anno XXXV, n. 79, 139-168.
  9. Du Plessis, C., Irurah, D. & Scholes, R. 2003. Built environment and climate change in South Africa. Building Research & Information, 31(3-4), 240-256.
  10. Du Plessis, C. 2003. Boiling frogs, sinking ships, bursting dykes and the end of the world as we know it. International Electronic Journal of Construction: The Future of Sustainable Construction. http://www.bcn.ufl.edu
  11. Du Plessis, C. 2001. Sustainability and sustainable construction: the African context. Building Research & Information, 29(6), 374-380.
  12. Du Plessis, C. 1999. Sustainable Development demands dialogue between developed and developing worlds. Building Research & Information, 27(6), 379-390.
  13. Du Plessis, C. 1999. The links between crime prevention and sustainable development. Open House International, 24(1), 33-40.
  14. Du Plessis, C. & Holm, D. 1999. The process of sustainable development in the design and construction of the built environment. Open House International, 24(2), 64-72.


Conference papers

  1. Matsebula, L. & Du Plessis, C. 2015. Reflective practice as basis for sustainable transformation: A pedagogical challenge. Proceedings of the Smart and Sustainable Built Environment (SASBE) Conference 2015, 9-11 December 2015, Pretoria, South Africa. Pretoria: CIB, University of Pretoria, 367-375.
  2. Hes, D. & Du Plessis, C. 2014. What does built environment practice look like in the ecological worldview? Proceedings: UNEP/CIB/FIDIC/IISBE World Sustainable Building Conference 2014, 27-20 October, Barcelona.
  3. Peres, E. & Du Plessis, C. 2014. Integral Resilience – an indicator and compass for sustainability. Proceedings: UNEP/CIB/FIDIC/IISBE World Sustainable Building Conference 2014, 27-20 October, Barcelona.
  4. Peres, E. & Du Plessis, C. 2014. Be(a)ware: resilience is about so much more than poverty alleviation. Proceedings: Architecture Otherwhere, UIA World Congress, 4-6 August, Durban, South Africa.
  5. Quarmby, S. & Du Plessis, C. 2014. Passive design strategies applied to office buildings in Gauteng. 8th Built Environment Conference, ASOCSA, 27-29 July, Durban, South Africa.
  6. Du Plessis, C. & Ferreira, A. 2013. Determinants of urban resilience: an exploration of functional response diversity in a formalizing settlement in the City of Tshwane, South Africa. Proceedings: CIB World Building Congress, 5-10 May, Brisbane, Australia.
  7. Du Plessis, C. & Swanepoel, T. 2013. Social resilience in the context of South African cities, South Africa. Proceedings: CIB World Building Congress, 5-10 May, Brisbane, Australia.
  8. Du Plessis, C. & Otto, E. 2013. Consideration of ecosystem services in the urban resilience in South Africa. Proceedings: CIB World Building Congress, 5-10 May, Brisbane, Australia.
  9. Du Plessis, C. & Peres, E. 2013. The threat of slow changing disturbances to the resilience of African cities. Proceedings: CIB World Building Congress, 5-10 May, Brisbane, Australia.
  10. Du Plessis, C., Nel, D. & Landman, K. 2013. Reconsidering urban resilience through an exploration of the historical system dynamics in two neighbourhoods in Pretoria. Proceedings: CIB World Building Congress, 5-10 May, Brisbane, Australia.
  11. Du Plessis, C. 2012. Applying the theoretical framework of ecological resilience to the promotion of sustainability in the urban social-ecological system. Proceedings of the Smart and Sustainable Built Environment (SASBE) Conference 2012, 27-29 June 2012, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  12. Du Plessis, C. 2011. Shifting paradigms to study urban sustainability. Proceedings, Vol 1: SB11-World Sustainable Building Conference, October 18-21, Helsinki, Finland.
  13. Du Plessis, C. 2009. An ecological worldview perspective on urban sustainability. Proceedings: ELECS 2009, Recife, Brazil, 28-30 October 2009.
  14. Du Plessis, C. 2009. Urban sustainability science as a new paradigm for planning. Proceedings of the Smart and Sustainable Built Environment (SASBE) Conference, 14-19 June 2009, Delft,Tthe Netherlands.
  15. Du Plessis, C. 2008. Understanding cities as social-ecological systems. SB’08 – World Sustainable Building Conference, 21-25 September, Melbourne, Australia.
  16. Du Plessis, C. 2006. Thinking about the day after tomorrow: New Perspectives on Sustainable Building. Rethinking Sustainable Construction 2006 Conference, Sarasota, 19-22 September 2006, Florida, USA.
  17. Du Plessis, C. 2004. Pursuing the outer limits: a think piece for the day after tomorrow. SB’04 – Africa Conference, CSIR, CIB & iiSBE, 13-17 September, Spier, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
  18. Du Plessis, C. 2003. Analysing the sustainability of human settlements in South Africa – challenges and methods. SBE’03 Conference: Technology and Management for Sustainable Building, 26-30 May 2003, CSIR, Pretoria, South Africa.
  19. Du Plessis, C. 2002. An Agenda 21 for sustainable construction in developing countries. Sustainable Building ’02, 22-25 September 2002, Oslo, Norway.
  20. Du Plessis, C. 2002. Finding the Tin Man’s Heart – social responsibility in the construction sector. 9th ENTAC (Encontro Nacional de Technologia do Ambiente Contruido) Conference, 7-10 May, Foz do Igauçu, Brazil.
  21. Du Plessis, C. & Napier, M. 2001. Introducing sustainable development into the municipal decision-making processes in South Africa – is a framework possible? The Transformation to Sustainable Planning: Decision-making, Models and Tools, 29-31 August 2001, University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
  22. Du Plessis, C. 2000. A South African perspective on decision-making for urban sustainability. Sustainable Building 2000, 22-25 October 2000, Maastricht, the Netherlands. Netherlands Agency for Energy and the Environment (NOVEM) and Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment in the Netherlands.
  23. Du Plessis, C. 2000. Cities and sustainability: sustaining our cultural heritage. Cities & Sustainability, 22-25 February 2000, Kandalama. Sri Lanka.
  24. Du Plessis, C. 1998. Crime and a Sustainable Environment. Conference of the Institution of Municipal Engineers of South Africa, October 1998, Port Elizabeth.

Significant research reports

  1. Rust, F.C., Botha, C., Van Wyk, L., Steyn, W., Du Plessis, C., Landman, K. & Coetzee, M. 2008. South African Construction Industry Technology Foresight Study. Pretoria: CSIR & Murray & Roberts.
  2. Du Plessis, C. 2005. Opinion Piece 6: The changing impact of the built environment on the envelope of natural resources that sustains the city. City of Johannesburg.
  3. Du Plessis, C. ed. 2002. Agenda 21 for Sustainable Construction in Developing Countries. Pretoria: UNEP, CIB & CSIR. CSIR Report BOU/E0204.
  4. Du Plessis, C. & Landman, K. 2002. A Sustainability Analysis of Human Settlements in South Africa. National Department of Housing. Pretoria: CSIR Report BOU/C368.
  5. Du Plessis, C., Lundy, J. & Swanepoel, P. 2000. Manual for Sustainable Neighbourhood Development. Pretoria: Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
Published by Leon Pienaar

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