Our most ambitious project yet! After four months of planning, the Talking Transformation Podcast, in collaboration with APES+ Society, brings you the inaugural “Talking Transformation FutureCast” episode.
In Cape Town’s Hout Street, on a warm summer’s evening, an enthusiastic and engaged audience of 60 guests gather to listen to a diverse panel of built environment practitioners. In the hour and a half that followed we reflected on “2019: the year that was” and then looked ahead to the rest of 2020 and next decade.
What are the contemporary and future built environment issues that matter? Which of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead do you agree with? Listen to the perspectives of our panel and audience and you decide.
The panel comprises (in alphabetical order and with their requested perspective to inform their contributions):
Jodi Allemeier - “The Dreamer”: PWC
Lwazi Nobaza – “The Last Minute Substitute and Activist Public Official”: City of Cape Town (CoCT)
Barabara Southworth – “The Experienced Hand”: GAPP Architects
Elisabeth Varghese – “The Newbie”: Graduate Intern (CoCT)
Prof. Francois Viruly – “The Academic: Urban Real Estate Unit, University of Cape Town
There are familiar themes – of disaffection and disappointment at the pace and nature of change…
There are reminders that South Africa is not unique – that discord and political polarisation are contemporary global issues…
And not least a proposition that change and progress is likely to come from individuals and collaborations and that small wins may be the order of the day.
Recorded on 22nd January 22nd, the Talking Transformation Podcast is indebted to the panel members, the APES+ Committee and the audience who supported the event. We hope and trust that this first venture proves the start of a series of collaborations with partners sharing the same ideals and vision for the future.
Minimal edits for quality and continuity have been made to the published content.
Recorded January 22nd 2020 in front of a live audience. Venue CIFA House, Hour Street, Cape Town.
In this first TTPod episode of 2020 - and the new decade - we take a journey "Down Under" and discuss challenges - new and old - facing two built environment professionals who have transferred skills and perspectives from South Africa to Australia.
The loss of professional talent to the international market has become a major capacity constraint for both the public and private sector here in South Africa - and it's not just the built environment that is feeling that pressure. It’s not just the talent but the experience that is being eroded and whilst this will always provide opportunities for the next generation of South African built environment professionals the loss of creativity and committed professionals for a variety of reasons is a significant challenge.
Tony Marks and Marco Geretto have proven track records of excellence in South Africa supporting dynamic development processes and initiatives. Both have served within the public and private sector and contributed to spatial targeting initiatives such as the Voortrekker Road Integration Zones and land packaging of public land (in Tony’s case) and informal settlement upgrading guidelines and numerous urban design initiatives in Marco’s. Marco was also one of the driving forces of the Open Streets initiative in Cape Town – an initiative which continues to challenge the status quo and car-based design and use of space (NB: he's also the designer of the TTPod logo!).
We hear about (and travel on) public transport, property markets driving rapid city building and economic growth, the influence of international money and the unintentional. We reflect on societal challenges issues of homelessness and drug dependency and climate change. There's plenty to reflect on and think about. Consider this a "busman's holiday" for the podcast and a warm welcome back to 2020.
It’s estimated that between 1990 and 2015 South Africa’s population grew from 37 million to 54 million.
Much of this growth located within towns and cities, driven by the economic and social opportunities afforded in these centres and followed the global trend of mass urbanisation. Post-1994, many of the South Africa’s towns and cities were – quite literally - bursting at the seams. Growth of the formal and informal sectors have continued to push the limits of organic and managed growth and infrastructure: the pipes, the roads, the public transport and social amenities have been pushed to breaking point.
Concurrently, democratic planning conventions and policy have demanded compact and integrated cities and spaces and spatial transformation that is inclusive in terms of race and income and more efficient in terms of form and function. These objectives and outcomes – the polar opposite of the apartheid planning philosophy - were well defined in legislation in the Development Facilitation Act, the foundation of reformed planning legislation and more recently in the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act. Spatial targeting in our municipalities: defining where resources should be deployed and to maximise public spending and enable the private sector is an additional concept supporting the growth of our urban centres.
Today we consider the genesis of some of growth management approaches that have been introduced to meet these demands and directives. We consider some of the tools that have been employed, and in particular urban edges and growth boundaries. How did they come about, what led to their introduction and how effective were they?
Dr. Anele Horn has dedicated much of her career to understanding the issues of growth management. She has worked extensively within the metropolitan spatial planning teams in both Johannesburg and Cape Town where she was responsible for the conceptualisation and implementation of metropolitan growth management policies. In 2018 she completed her PhD dissertation investigating decision-making and the successes and failures of urban growth management in Cape Town to inform the doctoral research. She is presently based at the Centre for Regional and Urban Innovation and Statistical Exploration (CRUISE) at the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Stellenbosch and has researched and lectured there since 2011.
Anele's review of the past successes and shortcomings has direct relevance for our contemporary thinking and decision-making as we once again grapple with growing informality, load-shedding and worsening congestion. We hope and trust you will enjoy her insights!
Recorded December 3rd 2019.
We're headed towards the year-end and festive season as at a rapid rate and this November month has been light on content and episodes after a generally busy first four months of the Talking Transformation Podcast. We did celebrate a fascinating insight into the housing market here in SA and there’s a lot of recorded material from my UK travels which may find its way onto the podcast in the new year. Things have been busy however behind the scenes...
We've successfully concluded the logistics of our collaborative live "FutureCast" event, on January 22nd 2020 with the Society of Architects, Planners, Engineers, Surveyors (APES+). Our diverse and talented panel members include:
Prof. Francois Viruly: Urban Real Estate Unit UCT
Barbara Southworth: Director GAPP Architects
Jodi Allemeier: PwC South Africa
Elizabeth Varghese: CoCT Graduate Intern
Mandisa Shandu: Director Head of Law Ndifuna Ukwazi
The panel and audience will review the 2019 year from the perspectives of each panelist and look ahead to the balance of 2020 what intrigues, what frightens and what enthuses the panel? Where are we going and what can we each contribute in this space? The audience will have a chance to make their own inputs and reflections and take the opportunities to draw on the expertise and perspectives of the panel. The content will form the basis of one of our first episodes of the new year. I am delighted to announce the confirm the following panelists speakers –some are familiar names and organisations, others are forging the next generation of built environment thinking and it promises to be a very special and unique evening and we would encourage you to RSVP on a first come, first served basis via firstname.lastname@example.org it makes for a very unique and interesting evening.
Many thanks to the Ron Haiden and his committee team at APES+ for allowing us to keep the entry to a minimal R50 for general entry and free for students. We are hoping for a large and enthusiastic audience on Hout Street. And again we would encourage you to RSVP on a first come, first served basis! Do it, do it now!
We’ve also partnered up with the Urban Knowledge Exchange Southern Africa (UKSEA) with a view to hosting some of the supporting material and content promoting the podcast there. Thanks so much to Mark Napier and his team for reaching out and providing this new platform. I’ve given up on the website thing! The Survey Monkey questionnaire has been updated and if you haven’t already taken 2 minutes of your time to fill it in online please head over to the site via this link direct your thoughts and answers there. We have at least four interviews scheduled for the new year so the expanding editorial team will be hard at work to bring you the best and most diverse topics and thought leaders in the built environment.
This is likely TTPod's last bulletin for the year and we want to thank all of the our listeners and contributors for all their effort and support. 1,800 listeners and 14 episodes down in a 5 month period is something we should celebrate and look to expand on in the new year. All the best to all in the coming festive season!
For most of us a house is the most significant asset we can own. This is amplified for low income property-owning urban households where the affordable housing market offers significant wealth creating potential for beneficiary households. However, in this market the ability of households’ to realise value from their housing assets is frequently and significantly hampered by a number of challenges.
Some quick numbers!
• Affordable properties represent a substantial portion of the residential property market in South Africa
• 60% of the 6.3 mill formal, registered properties were valued
“If planners are not conscious [of food issues], then their impact is negative, not just neutral”
(Pothukuchi & Kaufman, 2000).
With over 50% of South Africans estimated to be food insecure or at risk of food insecurity this episode of Talking Transformation is a timely wake-up call to all built environment activists and practitioners. Arguably a lesser-understood, “rural planning issue” this episode challenges directly this preconception and reminds us that food security is less about the supply quantum of food as it is access to [healthy and a variety of] food sources.
Taking its lead from Consuming Urban Poverty’s (CUP) project and toolkit - “Incorporating food into Planning” the episode hosts Robyn Park–Ross and Alison Pulker both of who have researched the topic extensively. In Robyn’s case she contributed to the CUP toolkit during her research work with the ACC and has published research on urban food security focusing directly on the informal trading associated with the Bellville transport interchange precinct
What is food insecurity, where in the world has this been addressed successfully and what is it we should be challenging in our daily choices, policy-making and decision-taking? This episode demonstrates that the next generation of built environment researchers and activists are taking charge, leading the debate and challenging the older generation. It makes for an insightful and educational listen. All material referenced is available via the links embedded in this introduction or or via https://consumingurbanpoverty.wordpress.com
As always, we trust you enjoy. Be sure to share the learning and the podcast links…
Recorded 28th October 2019
In this episode of the Talking Transformation Podcast we revisit a theme we've touched on in previous episodes: smart / digital cities and the implications of the fourth industrial revolution or 4IR as it has become known. Listeners may recall that State President Ramaphosa talked about this in this in his 2019 State the Nation Address at Parliament a number of months ago.
The questions remain: if this is the aspiration: How do we do it? What does it require? And what are the benchmarks and lesson learnt around the world that might influence how we go about our business? We're joined by guests Associate Professor Nancy Odendaal and Luke Boyle, both of whom are working from the University of Cape Town. In this episode, they take listeners through the concepts and the differences and answer these questions. They also address some of the limitations of these concepts. It makes for an insightful and fascinating listen. We trust you enjoy!
Find the publications Luke has been working on via this and this link.
Recorded October 9th 2019
In this bulletin we celebrate 1100+ listens over our starting 11 episodes - all in less than three "live months"! We reflect on September's three informative and engaging episodes and look to January 2020 and the "FutureCast" planned with our friends @ APES+. We're really excited about this new collaboration. Learn how you can get involved and who has committed to being part of the panel looking back on 2019 and forward to 2020. It's quite a line-up! Be sure to engage with us through our Twitter-feed @talkingtransfo1 and / or leave us a voice message on the Anchor Podcast platform.
If you've engaged with us and would want to assist us with our survey to help us understand who is listening out there and to help us with CPD plans please head over to SurveyMonkey and follow this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/H6VR6NK
Recorded Sept 30th 2019
In this episode of Talking Transformation we consider the work and findings of the Integration Syndicate, an initiative that took place in Cape Town under the auspices of the African Centre for Cities (ACC).
Our guest, Professor Edgar Pieterse, the founding director the ACC, reviews the method, approach and findings of the Syndicate that sought to explore the obstacles and practical solutions to social-spatial integration in the Cape Town metropolitan region. The Syndicate's process and publication comes at a time when the public voice of advocacy groups has exploded in addressing issues of inequality and the slow speed of spatial and socio-economic transformation – most publicly within the inner-city areas of Cape Town. Professor Pieterse outlines why he believed it is a much broader spatial issue and how it led him to frame a series of propositions and provocations via the Syndicate. Three strategic sites in Cape Town (Two Rivers Urban Park, Bellville and Philippi) and each of the five “provocations” are considered within this insightful episode. The content captures the essence of the Talking Transformation Podcast.
The podcast comes shortly after the release of the Integration Syndicate publication which is available as a free download as well as for purchase.
Recorded 20th Sept 2019
How the public sector spends its money is increasingly being scrutinised by the public and private sectors alike. Limited funds, flatlined economy, austerity: increasingly there’s a need to do more with less and demonstrate tangible value for money and impact within our communities To achieve this, and to address the complexity and the variables impacting on decision-making requires institutional co-ordination, inter-disciplinary approaches and inter-governmental cooperation. It means a collective effort with the limited funds at hand to achieve the transformation of our landscapes, maximise service delivery and maintain the economic foundations of the cities and country.
In this episode we talk to two of the three Directors of Novus3 - James Scheepers and Bernard van Biljon. Together with Jaco de Vries, they have a wealth of experience in developing methods and tools to support decision-making, assist the technical and political prioritisation processes and to demonstrate the spatial and socio-economic impacts of public spending. Their expertise and insights are derived from almost two decades of service, understanding and developing approaches to support these challenges. Their insights and approaches have served a diversity of clients including Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), a number of Metros, National Departments and SOEs. Their reflections in this interview offer the listener unique and comprehensive perspectives on the scale and complexity of the challenges and the means to address these issues.
Recorded 18th Sept 2019
In this episode, we consider issues of mobility, public transport and the role that technology can play in meeting the increasing challenges of movement in and around our towns and cities.
The South African mobility landscape sees an estimated 15 million people dependent on minibus taxis every day as their commute mode. Then there’s the historic rail systems and “new wave” of bus routes – typified by the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) infrastructure of the metros that were introduced in support the FIFA World Cup 2010.
Yolisa Kani is an experienced and highly respected professional who has worked extensively within metropolitan transport authorities and helped shape the new wave mobility strategies. For the last four years she has taken up an executive role with Uber - arguably the leading tech-based disruptor in “e-hailing” app based platform – as their Head of Policy.
Given these dual perspectives of public and private sector, Yolisa is ideally placed to consider the efforts made and opportunities available to address our urban mobility challenges from both these perspectives. We are indebted to her for making the time to speak to the Talking Transformation podcast.
Recorded September 6th 2019
The Talking Transformation Podcast has been live for just short of two months. In that time we've published eight in-depth interviews with guests with a story to tell and lessons to be learnt.
Listeners and interest have grown by the week on the back of some exceptional guests and the insights they've kindly shared.
This short, sharp bulletin takes a quick look back at the last four episodes and looks forward to coming topics we aim to cover.
Many thanks to each and everyone of you who has taken the time to contribute, listen, and encourage.
If you've enjoyed to date, please spread the word and links!
Please remember that the Talking Transformation Podcast is available via a number of platform, not just the Anchor host platform - click on the links below.
The issue of land reform in South Africa is arguably the most politically charged issue facing the country, its citizens and politicians charged with leading a transformation agenda. In October 2018, President Ramaphosa stated “…Our nation is focused on the effort to correct the original sin of land dispossession”, a month after he appointed an expert advisory panel on Land Reform and Agriculture.
Releasing the panel’s final report in July 2019, Chairperson Dr Vuyokazi Mahlati suggested that: “The urgency and Constitutional imperative of land reform in South Africa can neither be taken lightly nor postponed.”
Today’s Talking Transformation Podcast guest is Professor Ruth Hall, (Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape), one of Dr Mahlati’s fellow panel members. A distinguished expert in issues of agrarian reform she holds a DPhil in Politics from the University of Oxford where she focused on the interests, actors and discourses that influenced the development of South African land reform policy. In this episode she summarises the background to the report, a number of its key findings and recommendations. Her expert oversight and clarity of perspective provides an hour-long, unmissable “master class”. The content is topical, urgent and a must-listen for listeners who have not yet considered thePanel’s issues and findings.
Recorded August 21st 2019
In July 2019 the Socio-Economic Research Institute (SERI) published a series of research reports reflecting on three informal settlements: Ratanang in Klerksdorp, North West Province; Marikana in Philippi, Cape Town, Western Cape; and Siyanda in KwaMashu, eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal. Today’s Talking Transformation Podcast guest is SERI Senior Research and Advocacy Associate Lauren Royston who led the research team. In this episode she summarises the approach and main findings from SERI’s detailed research (available via this link). A development planner by trade, Lauren has been a leading advocate on land and tenure issues in South African and regionally for many years. She has worked with number of different organisations and recently co-authored “Untitled” a book publication on urban and rural tenure security in South Africa. Her insight and reflections make for essential listening for anyone engaging on issues of informality, community dynamics and policy formation. Recorded August 12th 2019
In today’s Talking Transformation Podcast we hear from three very different planning personalities (in order of appearance), Claus Rabe, Jaco Petzer and Eloise Rousseau.
All share at least three things in common…
They’re professional town planners by trade;
They’ve worked together in the same metropolitan planning team; and
Each has had to consider alternative skills and approaches to support their work.
In an era of “Big Data”, data science and coding languages like Python, this three-part conversation reflects on three personal journeys. It broadens the scope and debate about the skills and techniques that may prove useful in addressing complex and wicked urban challenges facing communities and professionals alike.
It’s a discussion about remaining relevant, useful and functional within civil society and political spaces and coming to terms with new technology and approaches that are not necessarily taught at school / varsity.
This episode begins to expand horizons and considers opportunities that some of us may not yet have begun thinking about.
Recorded July 2019
Read Eloise's blog via this link.
The OECD report Claus cites is available via this link.
A month ago State President Ramaphosa announced his ambition of a new city, connected to other cities by a bullet train and led, by the 4th industrial, tech revolution. Following this announcement via his state of nation address, commentators have applauded and scorned the ambition in equal measure. This week I invited Dr Geci Karuri-Sebina to air her views on the matter. Geci is one of the pre-eminent commentators and observers on South African towns and cities having worked for many years as an associate at the South African Cities Network and researcher with, amongst others, the CSIR and HSRC. Her views are compelling, insightful and frank. She offers not only observations on the new, hi-tech city debate but also delivers a sobering assessment of existing cities, institutional structures and the global perspective she has cultivated during her professional and personal life travelling the globe.
Recorded Thursday 18th July 2019
The Talking Transformation Podcast has been live for two weeks now...
Since then I’ve had an overwhelming positive response to the episodes and personalities we’ve presented via the podcast platform.
Many thanks to each and everyone of you who has taken the time to listen and engage and encourage.
This short bulletin reflects on the last few weeks; the podcast content - past and future; and outlines ways for listeners to get more directly involved.
It also takes a few moments to reflect on the passing of two giants of South African culture and remembers Madiba via the preceding week's Mandela Day celebrations and initiatives.
Our special guest this episode takes us on a very different and compellingly tour of duty and service. Jana El Horr - who was visiting South Africa and the Western Cape - recounts her own story from war torn Lebanon and Iraq to the US where she is now based. Her skills and talents, as both an economist and peacemaker, are helping communities across the globe come to terms with the aftermath of conflict, violence and trauma. In a month where troops have been deployed in a number of communities in Cape Town to combat violence and gang-related crime her reflections on the process of transformation, healing and community engagement are timeous and moving.
Recorded Wednesday 17th July 2019 Send us feedback via @talkingtransfo1
Beyond the theory, beyond the rhetoric...
This episode finds us in the Friendly City of Port Elizabeth. Our guest Lance del Monte recounts his journey as one of the pioneers of high density, mixed typology and infill, susbsidised housing in South Africa. With support from General Motors and the beneficiary communities he has served, he has transformed the landscape of many parts of the city and impacted directly on the lives of the communities who live in the spaces he has imagined, designed and executed.
This is a lengthy podcast and a deep dive into the practical and ideological challenges and lessons learnt along the way: from Missionvale to Walmer Link and beyond. Lance and his team have taken the subsidised human settlement grants and demonstrated pretty much the full array of IRDP, social housing, FLISP housing typologies. Sectional title, subsidised housing? Yes, they are busy with it…
Beyond this audio record Lance has kindly shared material and literature which goes further into the principles and design aspects. You can find pdfs of these user friendly and information packed documents via our twitter feed. Put on the coffee, start the car and settle in for a masterclass…
Recorded Friday 5th July 2019
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In this second episode, we are privileged to talk with former City of Johannesburg Executive Director, Yondela Silimela about her experience implementing the Corridors of Freedom spatial restructuring initiative.
Yondela is an inspirational leader and built environment professional. She has recently taken up an executive position with the World Bank and joined us from her new base in Paris.
She talks about the challenges and ingredients for success in the Corridors initiative and lessons learnt.
She also provides an interesting take on NIMBY-ism, land value capture and tax increment financing and the strengths and weaknesses of these tools.
The episode reflects on the roles and skills both hard and soft, required to make a difference in the public and political realm. It makes for compelling listening…
Recorded: Saturday 29th June 2019
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In this, our first episode, we talk to former National Planning Commissioner Professor Philip Harrison.
Presently the Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning (Wits University), Phil reflects on the exciting period that led up to the publication of the NDP and the strengths and challenges associated with implementation.
His strong and grounded views will be of interest to anyone who is interested in understanding how the plan sought to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality in South Africa by 2030. These approaches included: drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capacity, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society.
The interview reminds us that it’s not only the spatial dimension that requires transforming: the economy, health and education are all topics which are reflected on here.
Recorded: Saturday June 15th 2019
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