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Joseph Michael Francis (Jo)

Natal University (1972-77). Graduated with master of philosophy degree in architecture from University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1980). Currently running a one-man practice and teaching full-time at the University of the Witwatersrand. Engaged in research on urban housing typologies in the Witwatersrand area. Much of his work is in Soweto, originally planned as a dormitory town for black workers whose job is to service white capital in Johannesburg. Following the riots of 1976, the State decided to upgrade Soweto and make it a showpiece for overseas observers. Most of his work is concerned with making buildings as cheaply as possible; consequently, they are designed to present a forceful image without having to rely unnecessarily on detail. Currently exploring the expressive use of primary geometric forms. Also trying to use traditional 'as-found' materials. South Africa is a strange society which very uncomfortably straddles the First and Third Worlds. Many curious anomalies exist in the urban culture of South Africans, particularly among housing built for black peoples. For example, the internal corridor appears to be an imported idea absent in most forms of traditional black housing. Despite this, almost all urban housing is designed to contain all functions under a single roof. Many traditional codes have received scant attention in relation to urban housing. Part of his work is testing ideas pertinent to this.

(UIA Issue 8, 1985)

Jo NOERO was the Sophia Gray Laureate in 2007.

Recipient of the Gold Medal Award from the South African Institute of Architects in 2010.

A principal in the firm NOERO WOLFF ARCHITECTS along with Heinrich WOLFF.

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.