Exploring Typologies, Densities & Spatial Qualities : The Case of Low-Income Housing in South Africa

Abstract: This thesis focuses on problems that have resulted from the increasing pressure facing urban and suburban land use in South Africa, brought on by a number of different factors including the political and historical background of the country, as well as by rapid urbanization. The objective of this thesis is to present the perspectives applied in the analysis of the built environment in selected case studies, in which different theoretical and methodological approaches have been developed to address the research questions.The empirical part of this thesis consists of four case studies, in which selected low-income housing projects are analyzed from a perspective of how to facilitate higher densities. A central question addressed is whether the provision of housing structures built at higher densities, maintain, improve, or aggravate spatial qualities; and whether the application of these types of projects can be considered as possible alternatives to address the problem of urban sprawl in South Africa.The study finds that the house types analyzed address the density dimension of urban sprawl, thus reducing the amount of land consumed. There is room for increasing densities and overall urban land use efficiency, to which the housing types analyzed in this study may contribute. This implies that cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg, which suffer from urban sprawl, have the possibility to grow in terms of population without having to expand further in terms of land use. The analysis of spatial qualities shows the studied types maintain positive spatial qualities, and have the possibility of increasing living standards. Nevertheless, a number of other dimensions need to be included when addressing urban sprawl conditions, in order to consider the possibility of replicating these housing types.Furthermore, this study advances approaches in terms of methodologies and concepts applied, which aim to contribute to an increased understanding of the current knowledge in the housing and urban planning fields focusing on questions of urban sprawl in general