Amira Osman is a Sudanese/South African Professor of Architecture at the Tshwane University of Technology. She currently holds the position of SARChI: DST/NRF/SACN Research Chair in Spatial Transformation (Positive Change in the Built Environment) and is the Joint Coordinator of the international group CIB W104 Open Building Implementation. She is also the Chair of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the 9th International Conference on Appropriate Technology (ICAT), Pretoria, November 2020. Amira obtained a B.Sc. in 1988 and an M.Sc. in 1996 both from the University of Khartoum in Sudan. She has a diploma from the Institute for Housing Studies in Rotterdam (IHS) in 1992 and PhD in Architecture from the University of Pretoria in 2004. Amira hosted and convened the World Congress on Housing in 2005 at the University of Pretoria and the Sustainable Human(e) Settlements: the urban challenge in 2012 at the University of Johannesburg. She served as UIA 2014 Durban General Reporter and head of the Scientific Committee for the International Union of Architects (UIA) and the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA).
Amira studied at the University of Khartoum in Sudan in 1988 (B.Sc.) and 1996 (M.Sc.). In between the two she also studied at the Institute for Housing Studies in Rotterdam (IHS) in 1992 where she obtained a post-graduate diploma. She completed her PhD in Architecture at the University of Pretoria in 2004. She worked as an architect in Khartoum during the period 1988-1997 – mostly at her father’s practice, Omer Siddig Architectural Consultant (OSAC), as well as numerous collaborations with other Khartoum-based practices on small and large projects.
Amira was also a United Nations Volunteer (UNV) in Maseru, Lesotho 1997-1998, as an architect with the Department of Public Works. She practiced as an architect in the Sudan and has participated in a number of projects in South Africa including a hostel upgrade and designs for social housing in Pretoria. Amira is a registered Professional Architect with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) and while her focus is academic and research-oriented, she still carries out small design jobs every now and then. Her design process is very influenced by her research on Open Building.
Amira taught at a number of institutions for over 26 years, over 11 years of those at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Amira established the Housing and Urban Environments (HUE) research field at the University of Pretoria and coordinated it until her departure in 2010. She also established UJ’s research and academic UNIT 2 “Architecture and Agency: DESIGN | MAKE | TRANSFORM” in 2015. Amira currently teaches Housing and Urban Policy at BTech level as well as Design Theory to first and third year levels. During the period 1988-2009, Amira’s teaching was focussed on design methods and principles, basic design, community oriented projects and housing, sustainability issues, design theory and Open Building Principles.
Amira ran a Housing Elective for the 4th years (Honours Programme) at the University of Pretoria for six years, She also managed the Honours programme for several years and helped conceptualise the programme. She also coordinated the second year of the master’s programme at the University of Johannesburg when she joined in April 2012, taking over this task from Melinda Silverman. With the support of Alex Opper (who conceptualised and led the 2-year programme between 2010 and 2012), Christo Vosloo, Finzi Saidi, Leon Krige and Suzette Grace – as well as others – this led to the full and unconditional accreditation of the programme in 2013, by the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) and the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CCA).
Amira has previously worked as a Senior Researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria. Amira has collaborated with various partners on research for various agencies and is a rated researcher with the South African National Research Foundation (NRF). She has presented numerous lectures, workshops and courses and is a member of several national and international boards. She has also served on numerous scientific committees and competition juries. Her research focus areas are housing and human settlements, Open Building, 4-D Design, informal settlements and government-subsidised social rental housing.
Amira was one of the conference conveners for the World Congress on Housing in 2005 at the University of Pretoria and the convenor of the Sustainable Human(e) Settlements: the urban challenge, 2012, hosted by FADA, University of Johannesburg and its partners. She also served as UIA 2014 Durban General Reporter for the International Union of Architects (UIA) and the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA).
Amira believes that the architectural profession has a critical role to play in the achievement of human settlements that are more equitable, more beautiful and more functional – human settlements that increase opportunities, offering people a better chance at improving their lives and livelihoods. The belief that the profession has the potential to offer both technical and social expertise towards these aims is the driving force behind Amira’s research projects and in her professional roles.
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