Dr Carin Combrinck

Staff Profile

Qualifications BArch(UP) MArch(Pratt, USA) PhD(UP)

Director: Unit for Urban Citizenship

Contact no: +27 (0)12 420 6536

Email: [email protected]

Office: 2-18, Building Sciences, UP Hatfield Campus


Dr. Carin Combrinck is a senior lecturer at the Department of Architecture in the faculty of Engineering,
Built Environment and Information Technology at the University of Pretoria. She is the director of the
Unit for Urban Citizenship. The mission of the Unit is to establish an interdisciplinary network of
collaboration towards horizontal integration of interfaculty engagement with specific stakeholders, as
well as vertical alignment of curricular engagement to embed a culture of participation in graduates. Dr
Combrinck’s field of research is rooted in the role of architecture in community development, with an
interdisciplinary view towards social innovation and urban citizenship. Engagement with stakeholders
ranging from informal settlement leadership structures to City Improvement Districts has shaped her
approach since 2010, becoming inclusive of curricular engagement, participatory research as well as
social impact. She has consulted to the City of Tshwane Safety Promotion through Urban Upgrading
programme, has served on the Hatfield Precinct Plan Advisory Committee, the Mamelodi Community
Learning Collaborative, the Department of Higher Education University Staff Doctoral Programme in
Community Development, as well as the Moreleta Development Forum. In all of these capacities, the
role of the university as an embedded social actor is promoted and supported through a scholarship of
engagement. Dr Combrinck was the 2019 recipient of the University of Pretoria’s Community
Engagement Award and the joint winner of the 2022 EBIT faculty Teaching and Learning award.

Course involvement and teaching philosophy.

List modules
Citizen Design Course in ONT 300
RFP 711/2/3
RFP 721/2/3
RFP 710
RFS 701
DPD 801
DIT 801
CPD 801

Dr Carin Combrinck is responsible for several courses that collectively contribute to the teaching of
Urban Citizenship within the UP Department of Architecture. Over more than a decade of teaching, it
has been her intention to embed critical thinking in her students that aims to transform the architectural
profession to be more responsive to South Africa’s socio-spatial legacies of segregation and injustice. Her teaching methods synthesize philosophies of cognitive transfer, reflection and transformation according to the appropriate levels of moral and ethical development in the different year groups, ensuing in a scaffolded approach in which epistemic shifts may occur. These methods rely on seminars, embedded community engagement, collaborative group work and peer evaluation, along with regular reflection and facilitated discussion. Her research interests consider both the role that the profession should play in the urban challenges faced in our country, as well as how to position our educational processes to prepare architectural graduates for this challenge. Dr Combrinck values the integration of research and pedagogy with intentional and impactful community engagement.

Research profile

ORCID ID: 0000-0003-0003-0501

Research focus areas: 
URBAN CITIZENSHIP: Public Interest Design

Within the ambit of Urban Citizenship, Dr Combrinck’s research is concerned with spatial agency and how this informs Public Interest Design as a direction of practice in the architectural profession. Through embracing methods of community engagement inscribed in Participatory Action Research, Community Action Planning, Design Activism, CoDesign and Architect-as- facilitator, her research is aimed at contributing towards improved integration of spatial policies and practice and developing alternative models for young architectural practitioners. A deep focus has evolved into the role that Public Interest Design practices may have on the  South African Educational Ecosystem as well as on designing for health and wellbeing. Through this scholarship of engagement, Dr Combrinck aspires to serve society through her teaching and research.

Research interests:Informal Settlement upgrade; CoDesign; Participatory Action Research

Research projects

Co-creating wellness and human dignity
NRF/SAASTA Research Grant 
Role: Principal Investigator
How can fine-grained data collected using the ukuDoba method contribute to the development of Community Action Plans to address immediate challenges of health, dignity, safety and education faced by communities living in the informal settlements of Plastic View, Cemetery View and Melusi in the City Of Tshwane?

Stitching the City 
NRF Grant 112634; STINT Grant: STNT170904261590
Role: Co-investigator
The project is aimed at establishing a transdisciplinary collaboration between the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden and the University of Pretoria, South Africa, to develop a methodological framework and digital platform for the collection and sharing of non-traditional types of spatial economic data at a street- and precinct level. In this project, a global framework for data collection, storage and analysis will be developed and adapted to local Global South and Global North conditions. The framework and platform will be tested in two study areas: Mamelodi-East in the City of Tshwane and Hammerkullen in Gothenburg, Sweden. These areas have been at the centre of investigation by different faculties in both institutions and represent marginalised economic conditions that exist in parallel with contested socio- spatial legacies. 

Recent publications 


Combrinck, C. & Porter, C.J. 2021. Co-design in the architectural process. Archnet-International Journal ofArchitectural Research. (Electronic publication 27 Feb 2021: ARCH-06-2020-0105)

Combrinck, C. & Venter, M.A. 2020. Embedded participation in the architectural curriculum towards engenderingurban citizenship in graduates. Image and Text (34) 01-29. ISSN 2617-3255.DOI:

Combrinck, C. & Nortje, T-L. 2020. Activating the Edge: The university campus as anchor institution. Development Southern Africa. DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2020.1760083


Ogude, NAO, Combrinck, C, Mathabathe, K, Mthethwa, N. 2022. Building Strong Educational Pathways from Early Childhood Development to University: A Case Study of Mamelodi Township. Book chapter in Community Engagement Research In South Africa: Methods, Theories, Histories And Practice. Editors - Prof Elize S vanEeden (NWU), Prof Irma Eloff (UP), Dr Hanlie Dippenaar (CUT).


Thuvander, L, Green, C, Adelfio, M, Brandao, E, Combrinck, C, Billger, M, Rautenbach, V, Coetzee, S and du Plessis, C. 2020. Piloting a collaborative data library of fine-grained data to support knowledge facilitation in architectural courses. Proceedings: BEYOND 2020 – World Sustainable Built Environment conference. IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science 588 (2020) 052042. IOP Publishing. https://doi:10.1088/1755-1315/588/5/052042


Combrinck, C. 2021. Is SACAP ready for Public Interest Design? Architecture South Africa 100: 40-41. Available at: https://saia.org.za/assets/docs/archsa/ASA_issue_100.pdf

Combrinck, C. 2021. Reaching out beyond our borders. Lentsu la Sechaba vol 10.

Combrinck, C. 2020. Staying in touch. Lentsu la Sechaba vol 8.

Combrinck, C. 2020. Adding a feminine touch for soundurban citizenship. UP expert opinion:https://www.up.ac.za/news/news/post_2360946-message-from-the-vice-chancellor-and-principal-of-the-university-of-pretoria&zpage=26

Students currently supervising

PHD (most recent first)

Dr Anika van Aswegen: Disruption by dissociation : exploring human-centred design through transformative
engagement in the spatial design studio Co-supervisor: Prof Hennie Reynders (School of the Art Institute Chicago) PhD (Interior Architecture)


Maxine Levy: The Art of Urban Generativity : an analytical case study documenting the process and impact of a-formality in Mamelodi East, Gauteng MArch (Research)


Lauren Mary Konstantinou: The Music-Maker: An Architectural Network for Exploration of Self and
Expression MArch(Prof)

Idelette Mulder: Realizing the right to housing MArch(Prof)

Dipuo Matena: Assembling the socio-educational spheres within contested urban environments: The Role of a Community Learning Hub in a Contested Urban Environment MArch(Prof)

Purll Naidoo: Redefining South African Government School Typologies to Encourage Lifelong Learning
Potential MArch(Prof)

Kelsey Smith: The role of architecture in rehabilitating food sovereignty and nutritional education within
secondary schools through collaborative participation MArch(Prof)

Vitumbiko Khoswe: Upscaling resilience: Waste as a resource MArch(Prof)

Published by Oratile Mothoagae

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2022. All rights reserved.

COVID-19 Corona Virus South African Resource Portal

To contact the University during the COVID-19 lockdown, please send an email to [email protected]

Click here for frequently asked questions for first year UP students

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences