Positive Numbers, Denver Settlement
A Formal Terrain Research Collective-SA
POSTIVE NUMBERS is an ongoing project involving the enumeration of residents within the Denver Informal Settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa. The project incorporates the installation of related way-finding signage in the form of numbered addresses. These signs are linked to a broader short-to-long term upgrading strategy known as the Community Action Plan (CAP), which has been in development over the last 3 years and is led by Aformal Terrain. Aformal Terrain (AT), a collaborative Architecture and Urbanism lab, engages complex urban conditions where traditionally defined ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ worlds meet. AT works with residents as active agents of development, in order to generate appropriate responses to rapidly changing urban phenomena. Studio AT Denver began in July 2014 as the first engagement of a longer-term relationship between AT (in partnership with the University of Johannesburg), the residents of Denver Informal Settlement, and a range of other key stakeholders and partners. The ongoing research project investigates three themes: DWELLING AND NEIGHBOURHOOD – The physical; Developing a grounded and critical understanding of ‘on the ground’ realities, in order to promote dwelling and spatial improvement at varying scales. PLANNING – The spatial, social and developmental; Supporting sustainable and equitable human settlement through the planning for improvements of systems, spaces and places. POLICY – Broader strategies from government level; Designing visions, action plans and joint objectives towards short, medium and long-term upgrading potentials. These outcomes are seen as strategic mobilising tools for physical and spatial upgrade and development plans at varying time scales. The intention is that these three foci form a critical examination of current governmental strategies for informal settlement upgrading and begin to suggest possible linkages with existing resident-led initiatives. The POSITIVE NUMBERS Project is a collaboration between the Aformal Terrain research collective and artist Tyler B. Murphy, supported by Open Societies Foundation: Higher Education Support Programme. The POSITIVE NUMBERS project is not simply one thing; it is the design of a process that builds understanding, capacity and upgrading strategies into the long term. The material generated is intended to be used by settlement leadership and residents to pro-actively demonstrate to the city what spatial, social and economic possibilities exist based on a bottom-up approach. For more information about AFORMAL TERRAIN, the stakeholders of the project, and the ongoing research go to
View all entries