Dr Jan Hugo

Staff Profile

MArch(Prof) (Pretoria), PhD (Pretoria), PrArch

Lecturer and Course Coordinator Earth Sciences

Contact no: +27 (0)12 4202578

Email: [email protected]

Office: 3-10, Boukunde Building, Hatfield Campus


Jan Hugo is a registered architect that completed his training at the University of Pretoria in 2010. His Professional Masters project contributed to the UNDP & GEF Sustainable Transport and Sport project, which specifically focused on developing low carbon transport systems in South Africa. He practised as an architect for a number of years, completing and contributing to a range of residential, public and infrastructural projects. Following a short sojourn in South Korea, he joined the Architecture Department at the University of Pretoria in 2016. He coordinates the professional Masters in Architecture programme as well as the Earth Studies curriculum stream. He recently completed his PhD focusing on the climate change adaptation potential of meso to micro-scale interventions in the built environment

Module involvement and teaching philosophy

Jan Hugo is teaching and involved in the following modules:

Earth Studies 120

Earth Studies 210

Continuing Practice Development 740

Continuing Practice Development 810

Design investigation treatise 801

Design discourse and project 801

My teaching philosophy: I believe we need to develop ecological literacy for all students regardless of background or discipline. To develop a new generation of practitioners who can respond to the various critical concerns of our era, a higher level of integrated thinking is needed. This requires a constructivist teaching model that focuses on building capability and capacity for innovation, flexibility and responsive design. Ingrained within this are a few principles that I endeavour to convey through my teaching, these include holistic and systemic thinking, a rational approach that is sensitive to one’s lived experiences and the intangible conditions, valuing both quantitative and qualitative thinking processes, and facilitating personal growth through reflective practices.

Research profile

ORCID ID: 0000-0003-4840-2642

Research focus areas: Regenerative and Resilient Cities

Research Interest: My research interest considers sustainability in Architecture and specifically deals with climate change in Southern Africa. The research focus is primarily on Southern African cities and how these can be retrofitted using climate change adaptation strategies. While the research considers Southern African cities, the scale or locus of interest is focussed on the role of Architecture within the urban context and straddles the meso urban and public space scale, and the detailed architectural scale.  

The theoretic lens within which the research field is framed follows a complex adaptive systems and eco-systemic thinking. The larger research question considers the systemic relation between various sustainability strategies and how these can be developed to future proofing our cities. 

The locus of research within the Architectural Discipline is on the interplay between the technological, systemic and spatial dimensions when developing architectural solutions and the associated public space. Currently, my research is primarily focussed on climate change adaptation strategies to address climate change risks, as well as the interplay between the informal built environment, user wellbeing and climate change resilient solutions.

Research projects

Architecture and Public Health Nexus: An intersectoral approach to health and well-being.

Grant: Research and Development Programme, UP; UNICEF One Health Cluster.

This research project undertakes an intersectoral approach to understanding health and well-being in an informal neighbourhood in Tshwane. It specifically considers the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of individuals' response measures to water insecurity and heat-stress risks within the South African context.

Role: Co-principal Investigator.

Regenerative Public Space.

Grant: National Research Foundation (NRF).

This project aims to recognise the true value of public space in cities, especially in South Africa and contribute to uplifting changes in these spaces. Through transdisciplinary cooperation, the project explores the regenerative potential of public space to realise the role of public space in promoting the UN sustainable development goals. In this project, a process and methodological framework towards regenerative public space are being developed and a digital platform or tool to assist the implementation thereof in practice.

Role: Co-Investigator.

Recent publications 

Hugo, JM. Sonnendecker, P. 2022. Ground-level documentation of heat stress exposure and response strategies in informal settlements. Presented at the CIB World Building Congress 2022, 27-30 June 2022 Melbourne.

Hugo, J.M. 2022. Designing productive spaces in our cities: focusing on the future potential. AJLA journal, Issue 3, May 2022. https://www.ajlajournal.org/articles/designing-capacity-for-future-food-networks.

Hugo, J.M. 2021. The Hanoak House as a Flexible and Adaptable Vernacular Precedent for Modern Architecture. International Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning, Vol 16, No 4, p. 731-739.

Hugo, J.M. du Plessis, C. Masenge, A. 2021. Retrofitting Southern African cities: A call for appropriate rooftop greenhouse designs as climate adaptation strategy. Journal of Cleaner Production 312, 127663. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.127663

Hugo, J. du Plessis, C., 2020 A quantitative analysis of interstitial spaces to improve climate change resilience in Southern African cities. Climate and Development, 12:7, p. 591-599, DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2019.1664379

Students currently supervising


Vermeulen, A. A decision framework for transition pathways towards climate change adaptation of existing apartment buildings in South African cities. PhD (Arch). University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

Nyanyirai, S. Assessing South Africa’s Energy Landscape – Towards developing an Economic Model for Renewable Energy Transition in the built environment. PhD (Arch). University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

Masters by research 

Thusi, Z. Investigating Urban Heat Stress Vulnerability in Tshwane: a case of Melusi informal settlement. MSc Applied Sciences in Architecture. University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

Professional/Coursework Masters 

Read, M. C. 2022. Recycling for Resilience. MArch (Prof). University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

Grobler, J. 2022. Identity and regenerative design in Pretoria West. MArch (Prof). University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

De Jongh, C.2022 . Regenerative and Resilient Cities. The urban user and their wellbeing. MArch (Prof). University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

Greef, J. 2021. Catalytic Nexus. MArch (Prof) dissertation. University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

Achi, J. 2021. Handmade City. MArch (Prof) dissertation. University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

Ramsey, N. 2021. Anticipated Informality. MArch (Prof) dissertation. University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

Odendaal, P. 2021. [Re]Connecting Ecology. MArch (Prof) dissertation. University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

Chauke, J. 2021. Urban Exodus. MArch (Prof) dissertation. University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

Published by Oratile Mothoagae

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