The area of investigation for this study
falls within a small urban island called
Situated 7km to the West of Johannesburg’s
CBD, it is isolated from the adjacent urban
fabric as a result of its historical and
also recent development. Westbury itself
also consists of a series of fragmented
islands with undefined boundaries, weak
urban blocks and a disorientated grid.
The area has recently been identified as
a high priority region for densification1
by the city of Johannesburg, supported
by transport-oriented infra-structural
The questions raised by this study are
contextualized against this backdrop.
How could densification in Westbury be
achieved towards the creation of a more
inter-connected, cohesive, accessible and
therefore sustainable urban environment?
Following from this:
How could Westbury be better integrated
with the immediate surrounding urban fabric
whilst combating its own fragmentation?
What is the role of urban blocks and
boundary conditions to help shape a future
more integrated Westbury, and also towards
In what ways can architecture contribute
in order to improve the urban fabric that
operates on various scales: from the very
scale of the house to that of an urban
boundary to that of the urban block and
ultimately the greater urban network?
The hypothesis outlined in this study is
that architecture is too weak to stand in
isolation, that a network of buildings is
necessary to achieve a more sustainable,
accessible, cohesive, and inter-connected
urban environment. This is tested through
a rigorous analysis of boundary conditions
at different scales as reflected in the
urban blocks of Westbury and the resultant
Finally, a block and its attendant
boundaries is singled out to test the
architectural contribution towards
densification of the suburb, the making of
place, and better inter-connectivity.
The process is envisaged as driven from
both the scale at which urban issues inform
the architecture, and the reverse scale the
architecture in Westbury informs the urban
master plan. The architecture in style and
scale sets the conditions for the proposed
urban blocks. The boundary wall being the
medium where urban meets architecture.
“For these dreams to flourish
in reality, we must recognise
that there can be no ready-made
solutions in housing, no recipes or