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Department of Construction Economics

Department of Construction Economics receives Global Change Grant

By Ilze Lombard

Posted on 26 January 2012

Prof Chris Cloete and Prof Chrisna du Plessis
Prof Chris Cloete and Prof Chrisna du Plessis

Prof Chris Cloete and Prof Chrisna du Plessis received a R3,26 million grant from the NRF under the Global Change Grand Challenge Science Plan to establish a research programme with a specific focus on building the resilience of cities through innovation in the planning, design and construction of the built environment.

The programme aims to provide a unique perspective to the international discourses on resilience theory, regenerative design and development and sustainability science by exploring a range of interventions aimed at advancing resilience and regenerative development within the aspirational African city. A matrix of research questions (research streams) and contextual, user-inspired sub-problems (research themes) at different scales is used to engage with the research problem.

Three main research questions will be addressed:

a)    How do concepts of resilience theory such as thresholds between different system regimes, adaptive capacity, functional and response diversity, connectedness, emergence and the adaptive cycle play out in the urban social-ecological system, how do they respond to internal and external perturbations over time, and how do they contribute to urban resilience?

b)    What kind of interventions would be useful in the design, planning and operation of resilient and regenerative cities?

c)    How would one change the mindsets and paradigms from which decisions are made and build the capacity of local government officials, the property industry and built environment professionals to apply the above knowledge and interventions?

The programme will form the basis for establishing a collaborative transdisciplinary platform between the University of Pretoria, the CSIR, the Tshwane University of Technology and the City of Tshwane, that engages specifically with the problems of urban resilience through a regenerative development approach. It aims to support a number of MSc and MArch degrees, PhDs, and post-doctoral fellows, as well as employing MTech/MProf/MSc (coursework) students as research assistants, thus creating job opportunities in research and introduce students in the built environment disciplines to the possibility of research as a career. It aims to disseminate the outcomes through continued professional development courses for built environment professionals and local government officials, as well as a range of peer reviewed publications and an international seminar.



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