Between Transitional Centre-Hinterlands: assessing urban futures in Cape Town and Hong Kong

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review


Cities’ development is not limited to the expansion or contraction of urban edges of peripheries (Brenner, 2016). Cities within cities and places nested within places exhibit conflicting realities and, as such, conflicting rationalities (Watson, 2003; de Satgé and Watson, 2018). These manifest radical differences in urban morphology, ecological processes, politics, and financial cycles. These nested sites of difference challenge environmental and spatial discourse in two ways. First, it disturbs the registers through which we assess the environment, as applicable rationalities transition at territorial boundaries, leaving decision-making and administrative processes to compensate. Second, socio-technical processes blur the territorial discreteness of a city’s material and spatial conditions, meaning designers must appraise material locality within transition design frameworks. This may highlight the importance of mechanizing a transition design framework based on vision, theories of change, mindset and posture, and new ways of designing (Irwin, 2015). According to Swilling and Annecke (2015), adversity produces localized shifts and innovations that contribute to what they call just transitions. These require acceptance that local action and global change are interrelated. To review these changes’ impact upon design, this paper compares two transitional settings, Imizamo Yethu in Cape Town and Tai O Village in Hong Kong, discussing how each site has dealt with transitional drivers. In a transition design framework, the paper seeks links and differences between African and Asian approaches to two socio-spatial characteristics throughout disruptive moments: durability of place, and socio-spatial adaptivity. The paper reviews these cases to explore the theme of city as transitional object and compare differential approaches to the future challenges of urban environments.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2022
EventThe 14th Conference of the International Forum on Urbanism: From dichotomies to dialogues: connecting discourses for a sustainble urbanism - Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 25 Nov 202127 Nov 2021


ConferenceThe 14th Conference of the International Forum on Urbanism
Internet address


  • Transitional landscapes
  • Spatial frameworks
  • Centre-Hinterlands
  • Cape Town
  • Hong Kong

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies


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