Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers -

Engineering Sustainability

ISSN 1478-4629 | E-ISSN 1751-7680
Volume 173 Issue 5, August 2020, pp. 257-268
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Currently, given the rapid growth and implementation of inadequate planning policies in African cities, the gap between formal and informal urbanisation is becoming increasingly evident. Spontaneous and unplanned settlements are home to more than half the urban population in Africa, where lost and forgotten spaces within cities are claimed by the urban poor as their ‘right to the city’. This study proposes an innovative research methodology of spatial mapping to analyse informal settlements, thus giving them a new ‘lived’ identity. The research has two key objectives: understanding how lived space can be effectively captured and interpreted and using spatial mapping as a key methodological approach to reinterpreting and adapting spontaneous settlements to existing challenges, hazards and risks. The proposed hybrid methodology, which combines drone photography and qualitative research methods (e.g. interviews, collaborative mapping), was tested in two pilot studies in the Durban metropolitan area, South Africa, to reveal the real attributes and vulnerabilities of such human settlements and to understand how they can be reorganised and adapted. The outcomes of this study allow for a more accurate (lived four-dimensional) mapping of scenarios affecting cities today.

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