South African urban firm wins coveted international industry award


A South African urban design firm has just won what is arguably the most prestigious industry award in the world.

This weekend, the Congress of New Urbanism (CNU), based in Washington DC, has awarded NEWURBAN Architects and Urban Designers with the “CNU Charter Student Merit Award” for its book Africa Drawn: One Hundred Cities.

Since 2002, CNU’s annual Charter Awards have recognised outstanding achievements in architectural, landscape, and urban design and planning worldwide. Regarded as the pre-eminent award for excellence in urban design, the CNU Charter Awards honours a select number of winners – including student winners. Winning projects represent major contributions to building more equitable, sustainable, connected, healthy, and prosperous communities.

Africa Drawn: One Hundred Cities is a hard-cover collectable, co-authored by experts in new urbanism Gary White,‎ Marguerite Pienaar and‎ Bouwer Serfontein.

The book presents one hundred of the most connected and important cities of the continent – a visual feast of three hundred images and masterfully drawn plans illustrates contemporary and historical place-making actions in Africa.

The result is simultaneously an artistic and visually fascinating documentation of African urban space and a convincing analysis of its structure and morphology, thus providing a spatial point of departure for all interested parties.

The drawings are accompanied by introductory texts and, for the first time, render possible a comparison of the diverse urban form on the continent. The study attempts to provide an indispensable resource of spatial and figure ground patterns in the context of urban space in Africa

It is the fourth time that NEWURBAN, with offices in Pretoria, Cape Town and Stuttgart in Germany received a CNU award.

The jury for this year’s awards is chaired by Maurice Cox and Jennifer Hurley, directors of planning and development and principal at Hurley-Franks & Associates respectively. The remaining jury members are: Antonio Fiol-Silva, founding principal at Sitio Architecture and Urbanism; Susan Henderson, director of coding and design at Placemakers; Anne-Marie Lubenau, director of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence; Elizabeth Mossop, dean of the School of Design at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia; and Russell Preston, founder and director at Principle Group.

African Drawn was a team effort between Gary White and Associates, Holm Jordaan Architects and Urban Designers and the Urban Research Group at the University of Pretoria (UP). Holm Jordaan and Gary White and Associates have since amalgamated to form NEWURBAN, a new firm with a collective experience of 80 years.

Says Bouwer Serfontein, one of the authors of Africa Drawn: One Hundred Cities and a director at NEWURBAN, “We are delighted that this body of knowledge is recognised in this manner. This Publication and Award are a testimony to the fact hat students and professionals are unifed and inspire by a single and common goal – collating and sharing further knowledge about the African City.”