Teaching Planning in South Africa’s "Mother City”

University of Cape Town, City and Regional Planning Programme


  • V. WATSON School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics; University of Cape Town


The paper sets out planning education in the two-year masters programme at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The city within which it is located is, in some ways, not a typical African city: growth rates are slow, there is little peri-urban development, and access to services is relatively high. Yet in common with many other African cities it has high levels of poverty and inequality, informality, environmental degradation and a large housing backlog. This planning programme emphasizes the acceptance and support of urbanization, and the need to plan cities which are inclusive, productive and sustainable. Informal work and settlement need to be supported and assisted, and urban areas need to be spatially integrated and logically structured; they need to function as vibrant, compact, mixed-use and public transport-oriented places which work well for the poor and people on foot. Over four semesters of work, the programme offers a generalist planning education to students from a wide range of disciplinary background, followed in the last semester by a dissertation with a specialist focus. Studio-work on simulated projects forms a central element of the programme and this is backed up by theory courses on contemporary urban and regional thinking. This paper will first consider the context within which the University of Cape Town Master of City and Regional Planning (UCT MCRP) programme operates, focusing on the metropolitan area of Cape Town and the current planning system in South Africa. The paper then moves on to explain the MCRP programme at UCT and how graduating students are equipped to deal with both the urban and legislative contexts.



How to Cite

WATSON, V. (2018). Teaching Planning in South Africa’s "Mother City”: University of Cape Town, City and Regional Planning Programme. The Journal of Building and Land Development, (JUNE), 76-90. Retrieved from http://journals.aru.ac.tz/index.php/JBLD/article/view/163