Environment-Behaviour Studies

This field is about: the relationship between people and the environment, in particular peoples’ cognition, perception and attitudes in relation to various phenomena in the built environment, such as space, housing, transport, municipal services, etc., and cross-cutting issues such as safety, sustainability and equity. Although rooted in environmental- psychology and sociology, the field has had a close relationship with planning and design since the 1970s.

Departmental research in this field aims to improve our understanding of (1) human preferences for planning/design interventions (typically preference surveys and needs-assessment studies) and (2) human responses to planning/design interventions (typically phenomenological and ethnographical field studies, post-occupancy evaluations, and social impact studies).

Researcher/Supervisor: Dr Jacques du Toit [[email protected]]


Planning Methods and Techniques

This field is about: the use of different planning methods and techniques under South African planning conditions. ‘Methods’ typically include methods for the collection, organisation and presentation of information for the purposes of defining problems, identifying alternative responses, decision-making, and implementation. The role of research methods in planning constitutes a sub-field. ‘Techniques’ typically include specific technological means employed within ‘methods’, such as modelling, simulation and mapping.

Departmental research in this field aims to improve our understanding of how different methods and techniques may improve planning. In addition, research aims to determine what methods and techniques are applicable for South African planning conditions.

Researcher/Supervisor: Dr Jacques du Toit [[email protected]]


Safe and Sustainable Housing and Urban Spaces

This field is about: different housing types and models that are relevant and applicable to achieve safer and more sustainable human settlements in the twentieth century and especially in the South African context. Housing refers to more than just the house, including the entire neighbourhood or settlement that is made up of different types of houses supported by a range of facilities/amenities and infrastructure. In addition to the nature and design of the house itself, it is concerned with order and form of the spaces between the houses, including the gathering and movement spaces which contribute to good quality environments. The research also aims to determine what the impact of specific types of housing developments and models has been on the ground, and what the response has been to cross-cutting issues such as safety, urban design, densification, socio-spatial integration, accessibility, spatial transformation and sustainability.

Departmental research in this field aims to improve our understanding of the relevance and implications of different types of housing, such as gated communities (including enclosed neighbourhoods and security estates) and medium density mixed housing to address the specific South African housing challenges.

Researcher/Supervisor: Dr Karina Landman [[email protected]]


Strategic Development Planning

This field is about: strategic and integrated development planning across all three spheres of government in South Africa and broader regional socio-economic challenges associated with it.

Departmental research in this field aims to improve our understanding of how to deepen democracy, enhance sustainable development planning and implementation across government spheres, and establish accountability measures and systems. In addition, research aims to determine what the impact of development planning has been on the ground, and what response there has been to cross cutting issues such as youth, gender, HIV Aids, LED, and SDFs.

Researchers/Supervisors: Prof Mark Oranje [[email protected]] and Dr Johnny Coetzee [[email protected]]

Published by Jacques du Toit

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