The [in]formal Studio’s (IS) emphasis is on exposing students to methods of participative planning and city-making by working within the context of actual informal settlements. An important distinguishing fact of this course is that the IS is invited to collaborate with NGOs and residents and that the educational agenda is mutually set and balanced to provide learning outcomes for students and staff as well as tangible deliverables which will be of use to the particular settlement and its residents. To date, two courses have been held in Johannesburg. These were developed within UJ’s Department of Architecture by 26’10 south Architects (Anne Graupner and Thorsten Deckler) as industry experts and Alexander Opper as the Director of the new Master’s of Architectural Technology and with support from the Goethe-Institut, Johannesburg.
Pre- and post-course engagement has allowed for a continuity of engagement beyond the academic timetable, resulting in specific outputs ‘commissioned’ through the working partnerships. Over the past two and a half years the IS has received much interest and feedback from stakeholders, including local government. Internationally, the IS has attracted attention as an innovative platform integrating bottom-up planning with practice-led research on complex and highly topical issues of urbanization.
The [in]formal Studio has been concluded in 2014 with a travelling exhibition on its Marlboro South course held in 2012.