A warm welcome to all our followers, from me, Helga Fernandes, an architect and built environment professional and acting CEO of Platform100.
As a young professional in pursuit of the creation of equitable cities with shared access to urban amenities – I have joined the Platform100 team to drive and amplify the conversation on spatial transformation by youth in the built environment with the aim of developing robust and innovative multi-scalar approaches to city making and governance.
African cities are rapidly changing with an urgent call for built environment professionals to heed the response by youth and join in creating a nexus of socio-political and ideological beliefs that include indigenous stories, and cultural understandings of territories, and ways of living that ought to be included in the city-making process. We require a more inclusive approach with a larger demographic to contribute to the overall governance and experience of city-living, if we are to create liveable and loveable cities for all.
Born and bred in Johannesburg, my cosmopolitan upbringing made me question how African cities are experienced and what drives individual aspiration in building resilient communities. My ancestral background layered my thinking to the acute indifference to communities of colour and their lived experiences – particularly with regard to spatial inequalities and access to equitable, functional, and pleasant city experiences. I often wondered what the world would look like without the “have” and “have nots”. One often associates impoverished communities with limited access, yet they remain largely ingenious in their economic and practical solutions to complex and injustice practices. My projects and professional experience between both the public and private sector have included a focus on human-centered approaches to design and the built environment. One of our projects that has most inspired me with regard to stakeholder engagement and citizen-led planning is the Bertrams Community Project. To learn more about me, you can view my online profile.
I believe it is imperative that our communication strategies include diverse voices with an emphasis on finding common ground in order to provide African communities with just opportunities as we search for sustainable, long-term solutions in city planning.
The Platform100 agenda of multi-stakeholder engagement for built environment solutions, an agenda that includes the voices and input of a diverse demographic of a variety of cultures and ages with a focus on individuals who have been subject to segregated city and legislative practices will ensure our ability to truly advance the agenda of spatial transformation.
In pursuit of creating networks and learning environments that are accessible and equitable, I intend to contribute to the Platform100 team by driving change in the dialogue and representation of how our African cities are governed, ensuring collaboration at all levels. Our goal is to utilise technical skills to implement practical and sustainable solutions for our African cities, providing tools to assist humans to manage their environments and in so doing contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth.
Platform100 is a registered NPO established in partnership with architect Mokena Makeka of Dalberg and Prof Amira Osman, the SARChI: DST/NRF/SACN Chair in Spatial Transformation (Positive Change in the Built Environment). We are proud to announce the support of newly appointed directors: Prof Edgar Pieterse, (Director, African Centre for Cities), Prof Finzi Saidi (HOD, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg), Dr Philippa Tumubweinee (School of Architecture, Planning, and Geomatics, University of Cape Town), Prof Philip Harrison, (SARChI Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning, University of Witwatersrand), Dr Sechaba Maape, (Senior Lecturer, University of Witwatersrand), Prof Hope Hangwelani (SARChI Chair, Inclusive-Cities, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal), Prof Marie Huckerzermeyer, (Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, University of Witwatersrand) , Dr Emmanuel Nkambule (Senior Lecturer, Dept of Architecture and Industrial Design, Tshwane University of Technology) and Prof Noeleen Murray (Dept Anthropology and Archeology, University of Pretoria. We look forward to their invaluable contributions and to sharing their work with you in the future. We are also joined this year by communication strategist Thandi O’Hagan whose role is to assist in disseminating information and identifying potential partnerships.
Platform100 will support inclusive growth of Africa’s built environment by driving work across four streams each with its own potential activities namely: Knowledge – the development of knowledge and data in the built environment through creative research; Communication – the creation, and sharing of this knowledge through strategic tools; Engagement – the strengthening of civic and multi-stakeholder engagement for the development of built environment solutions, and Implementation – the facilitation of actionable and implementable built environment solutions. Through public thought leadership, civic engagement, and creative research in the built environment, Platform100 intends to accelerate progressive policy evolution towards liveable and loveable cities.
Welcome to Platform100, I look forward to learning and working together. In this, our first newsletter, we introduce you to some of the work conducted since we launched this initiative in 2020, please do read on and to join and contribute to the #spatialtransformation conversation, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.