According to Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong and Jhono Bennett and his fellow students learned that lesson the hard way. In 2010, led by the Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF), Bennett, his colleagues and a group of Slovo Park residents spent a university term upgrading an abandoned 1994 voting structure into a co-designed multi-function community resource as part of their final year in architectural studies.
Weeks later, Bennett brushed his shoulders off and alongside the Slovo Hall build team that included Jacqueline Cuyler and SPCDF leader Mohau Melani, founded the non-profit design led social enterprise; 1to1 – Agency of Engagement. The organization set its aim to support the various grassroots and national level forces that are addressing the post-1994 symptoms of spatial inequality in South Africa through socio-technical design support and projects.
Bennett says his practice works towards concepts of Spatial Justice and aims to critically address the legacy of apartheid spatial planning that deliberately kept South African society not only economically unequal, but spatially separate.
“I believe in the power of our urban spaces to address patterns, and provide a platform to develop new and inclusive patterns of sharing, making and growing together as a nation,” he says.
Bennett is reading for his MPhil/PhD in architectural design at the University College London. He obtained his Bachelor of Architectural Studies at the University of Kwa-Zulu-Natal and his Honours and master’s at the University of Pretoria.