The influence of youth rural-urban migration on architecture and urbanism: towards an employment indigenous skill centre in Durban.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Rural-urban migration has a huge impact on urbanization, population distribution and settlement. Young adults migrate in search of better opportunities in education and employment (Muhwava W. et al, 2010). People perceive cities to have better living and working conditions. These migrants generally do not possess the skills or the education to enable them to find and secure employment in the formal sector, and they must settle for work in the informal sector which is mainly informal trading (Timalsima, 2007:1). This largely impacts on the urban fabric and the architecture provided in the cities to service the needs for the population. Rural urban migration also contributes to a lot of social issues that affect the city’s population. Rural-urban migration is attributed to the idea that urban areas have better economic conditions and opportunities. This is the pulling factor that attracts rural people into the cities. Political and social factors and conditions also play a big role in drawing people into cities. This causes a big shift in architecture and the provision of services in big cities, causing housing backlogs etc. This study aims to explore the influence of rural-urban migration on architecture and urbanism as means for creating a skill’s centre for the youth of Durban. The study investigates the role of culture and identity in restoring and preserving local identity through the built environment, as well as providing opportunities for sustainable economic development for rural-urban migrants. The need to develop local cultural identities in order to build environments and ensure that these are expressed in a progressive and dynamic manner in order to express culture as a dynamic evolving organ rather than a static dogma, ensuring versatility and significance to future generations. It will also highlight the importance of heritage and cultural preservation through built form. Culture is reflected through history and forms part of buildings, artefacts that form part of the traditional built environment which is how rural urban migrants read urban spaces (Mensah O, 2012:18). Cultural identity plays an important role in the preservation of indigenous knowledge skills, knowledge systems and their conservation (Hoppers, 2002). The research investigates how culture, tradition, and built environments can be integrated to create a meaningful environment that is an epitome of and responds to people's needs. The study will be conducted in Durban one of South Africa’s major port city that is home to the largest industrial hub after Gauteng. Durban is in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The study will focus on the area of Stamford Hill (co-ordinates -29.0846906, +31.031977). It is in an urban setting. The area is affected with high concentrations of informal settlements and lacks integration in the overall Durban economy. The area is affected by issues of low levels of literacy and skills development and a lot of unsuitable development practices. Durban is deeply divided in terms of social inequality with almost 70 % of its population residing on the periphery of the CBD in peri urban areas. In Durban, peri-urban areas can be identified along the threshold between the CBD and the immediate surrounding suburbs and rural areas outside the urban development line. Indigenous knowledge and the integration of knowledge systems, the promotion and conservation of these systems is important (Hoppers,2002:1). To empower and develop people, these systems help in finding human a human-cantered vision of development and preservation of basic human rights and the alleviation of poverty (Hoppers,2002:3). Sustainable human development that is built on these systems that exist in communities helps promote societies and development that benefits generations (Hoppers, 2002:3). The loss of these cultural reference points sometimes leads to a breakdown in societies (Hoppers, 2002:3). These systems can be used to benefit the youth. The precedent studies looked at are the BAT Centre in Durban and the Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre in Qunu (Eastern Cape). These precedents will explore the concepts of identity and the role that architecture plays in instilling national pride and identity while reinforcing the importance of skills development. The materials and the celebration of identity in creating place. The relationship between architecture and heritage and the role it plays in economical growth.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.