UCT Architecture

UCT Architecture

UCT Architecture,
Architecture and Planning offer nationally and internationally accredited degree programmes which give graduates access to career opportunities in many built environment professions.
These include:

  • architecture
  • conservation
  • landscape architecture
  • city and regional planning

Staff and students frequently win local and international awards for their work. The school is renowned for attracting a broad cross-section of students and teachers. By addressing the unique challenges facing the development, planning and design challenges within a southern African context, the school makes an ongoing contribution to the global architectural, landscape and planning knowledge base.


The School offers a range of programmes concerned with the planning and design of our environment. The disciplines represented compliment one-another and create a learning environment that is rich and diverse: Architecture is concerned with buildings and their relationship to society’s spaces and places, Landscape Architecture is concerned with the natural environment and its interaction with human occupation, Urban Design is concerned with the quality of larger scale spaces and places, Planning is concerned ,with the design and management of change in the built and natural environment, and Conservation is concerned with our built heritage and its future existence. All the programmes represented share concerns around the quality of human settlement and the natural environment. The programmes in Architecture and Planning share a strong contextual approach and a commitment to engage with Cape Town as a locus with unique and important challenges.
A career in the design and planning of the built environment involves creative, technical, theoretical and managerial work to meet society’s need for shelter, accommodation and organisation. These needs range from the larger scale of cities and regions, to the intermediate scale of buildings and parks, and to the small scale of rooms and furniture – all of which need to be designed, built and managed. Designers and planners work with many other technical specialists, often in large multi-disciplinary teams, to turn conceptual ideas into reality. This process of design and planning takes many factors into account, including the needs of users, environmental sustainability, functional requirements, legal frameworks and financial constraints. Designers and planners have the intellectual and creative ability to synthesise these complex requirements in coherent and expressive form and policy.
At UCT, the Bachelor of Architectural Studies under-graduate degree (BAS) is a foundation programme in the design of buildings and the urban or landscaped environments around them. This degree provides the necessary ability in design, theory, technology and communication to proceed the graduate professional programmes in Architecture (the design of buildings), Landscape Architecture (environmental planning and design), Urban Design (the design of whole city precincts), and City and Regional Planning (settlement planning at a larger scale). These streams lead in turn to professional practice as Architects, Landscape Architects, Urban Designers, and City and Regional Planners.
The School is committed to creating an enabling environment in which students not only build their knowledge, but also their character. We want our students not only to be equipped with disciplinary knowledge of their field of study, but also a set of values that underpin their thinking and actions.
We value education, learning and knowledge; imagination and creativity; open-mindedness and diversity; perceptiveness and perseverance.
The ethos of this School is strongly influenced by our context, both the physical context, the city, and the broader social, cultural and economic context of the region and the country. We are committed to engage with these contexts in both a meaningful and critical way, not as abstract sites for investigation but rather as peopled places to which we can respond.




This exciting inter-disciplinary programme aims to equip graduates with a strong intellectual foundation in the field of built environment conservation, as well as the necessary professional skills in heritage resource management.
The course is situated in a contemporary South African and global context in which heritage and conservation practices intersect powerfully with the politics of spatial transformation, urban change, social justice and development. Within this context, built environment professionals and managers are often required to work with or to take account of heritage and heritage resources. To do so productively requires a thorough technical and legal understanding of heritage resource management; but beyond this, the ability to grapple critically with the relationships between conservation, heritage, transformation and sustainable futures. We operate from the position that the built environment can only be understood as part of a network of social, political, commemorative, spatial, economic and other meanings. The course aims to enable graduates to practice effectively in the field, supported by a thorough understanding of contemporary debates and issues in heritage and conservation.

Course structure:

The MPhil is offered part-time over two years, including six taught modules and a research report. Teaching takes place in one-week full-time blocks, designed to accommodate working professionals as well as students who are not permanently based in Cape Town. The course provides input from and opportunities to connect with established heritage professionals, researchers, academics and built environment practitioners, as well as field trips and hands-on experience to provide a well-rounded foundation in conservation practice and theory.

Potential students:

We welcome applications from students with diverse disciplinary and professional backgrounds, including those already working in built environment practice as well as those who wish to develop their skills and qualifications in the field. Past students have included those with qualifications/experience in architecture, planning, urban design, heritage, archaeology, history, visual and performing arts, education, and the humanities. Admission to the degree requires a four-year degree or equivalent, and we will consider students with a three-year degree or equivalent plus relevant experience.

Course content:

Year 1:
Introduction to Conservation
Conservation in Transformative Contexts
Critical Issues in Heritage Studies (offered through the department of African Studies)
Working With Heritage Resources
Year 2:
Research Methodologies
Conservation and Development in Practice
60-credit research project (20-30000 words)


For further information contact the course convenor Naomi Roux at 021-6503879 or e-mail n.roux@uct.ac.za,  or the course administrator Mcebisi Mdluli at 021-6502081 or e-mail mcebisi.mdluli@uct.ac.za

Landscape Architecture


Master of Landscape Architecture

The Master of Landscape Architecture programme is a rapidly growing and exciting area of study at UCT. Landscape architecture is an environmental design and planning profession with an emphasis on the innovative design and planning of the exterior environment. It is a well established profession that is responding to the rising environmental and cultural consciousness of landscape in South Africa and the world.
Through the study and practice of landscape architecture you will learn about creative landscape design and environmental planning and management. The course also explores the relationship between disciplines in the natural sciences and those which are concerned with the design of the built environment, through the use of applied principles derived from ecological, urban, landscape, cultural and social studies.
The Master of Landscape Architecture degree programme is a two year, full-time or three year extended course. It is integrated with related programmes in Architecture, Urban Design and City and Regional Planning.
The course equips the graduate with the necessary values, knowledge and skills to fulfil a valuable role in either the public (working for the City) or the private sector (establishing private firms), in dealing with diverse environmental and design issues, at a range of scales from broad landscape planning to detailed site design.
The course combines theory through the various lecture courses, with practice in the form of design studios and field trips. Emphasis in the curriculum is placed on developing an understanding of landscape systems, and on the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.


City and Regional Planning


Bachelor of City Planning Honours degree and Masters of City and Regional Planning degree (linked).

City and Regional Planning is a profession which contributes to the management of change in the built and natural environment. Planning as an activity is a collective societal effort to imagine or re-imagine an urban or regional environment and to translate this into priorities for investment, conservation, new and upgraded settlement, strategic infrastructure investments and principles of land use regulation. At the core of urban planning is a concern with space and the making of ‘place’. Planning is also fundamentally a political activity rather than a neutral, technical activity. It is shaped by values, and planners are constantly called upon to make ethical judgments in relation to different possible futures (from UN Habitat: Planning Sustainable Cities, 2009).
The Honours and Masters programmes at UCT recognize the particular demands of cities and regions in Africa and in the global South, in the 21st century. This requires us to engage with issues of poverty, inequality, informality, rapid urbanization and environmental change. Our partnership with affiliates of Slum Dwellers International in Cape Town allows students to engage first-hand with the issue of informal settlements and their improvement. The close link to the African Centre for Cities and the Association of African Planning Schools exposes students to the diversities of urban life on the continent and the exciting potentials which these offer.
Graduates from the masters programme find work in government at all levels, in private practice, in NGOs, in related fields of environmental, transport or housing development, or in the property finance sector. Planners generally work in an inter-disciplinary environment with other professionals engaged in the built environment. The planner’s work can range from local scale design to metropolitan planning to policy work. It is a diverse field. While the programme content is shaped by the context of South Africa and Africa more widely, graduates are able to put their skills to good use in almost any part of the world.
The Honours programme (which is shared in part with the Landscape Architecture Programme) is concerned with planning in local and metropolitan settings. Studio projects are supported by lecture-based courses in planning theory, environmental issues, urban infrastructure, urban design, planning law, and the institutional and economic context of planning and urban development. The Masters programme covers regional planning through both project and theory work, with a focus on the generation of economic, landscape and settlement frameworks in regional space. The second part of this year involves individual dissertation work. Contact Ms Naomi Gihwala for applications: Naomi.Gihwala@uct.ac.za