The City is [NOT] a Tree: The Urban Ecologies of Divided Cities
The City is [NOT] a Tree: The Urban Ecologies of Divided Cities

Call For Abstracts

  • 05, Jul / 07, Jul 2022
  • Pretoria, South Africa
Conference Email
[email protected]
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"A city exists in collections of social structures which mutually form a society.

A divided city implies divided social structures and, in consequence, a divided society.

A divided society is a cause/effect of divided cities through legislative political systems of division."

THE CITY IS [NOT] A TREE: THE URBAN ECOLOGIES OF DIVIDED CITIES is an international collaboration, with associates principally from Europe and Africa, and open to collaboration with contributors from other parts of the world. We are interested in analyses, remedies and healing in divided cities and societies. Although these often relate to specificities of history, context, place and population, they nonetheless speak to a universal condition, with many commonalities in both cause and effect.

The title of this collaboration, being a wordplay on Christopher Alexander’s 1965 essay title A City is Not a Tree, uses the inference of a city being a tree in a different milieu. Whereas Alexander’s focus in terms of the analogy was to describe the physical composition of a city being either the mathematical structure of a tree or that of a semi-lattice, in this instance it refers to the city as a socio-spatial ecosystem.

The question of divided cities represents a complex and multi-stranded urban ecology – at once both social and spatial; it cannot be limited to a single science or discipline, such as social or spatial fields. This suggests integrated and cross-disciplinary understandings, as well integrated or parallel approaches and solutions.

Urban ecologies of division manifest in multiple forms. One of their most palpable expressions is conflict, with parallels around the world, and often with correlations in the spatial fabric. Violence in such contexts is often a surface expression of deeper socio-economic or ideological differences. Whether as result of intervention by authority or by dissent between groups, a divided city inevitably becomes a place of conflict in various forms and intensity, eroding the joy of living and sense of collective belonging to the detriment of all. In effect, it erodes the collective advantage of being part of a more unified society. In tandem with conflict as a surface expression of such ecologies are the social undercurrents, such as the making of the ‘other’, the unfamiliar and the unknown, where whole swathes of cities and towns could remain ‘other’ for many citizens – a terra nullius – even for long-term residents.

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Conference Topics

THE CITY IS [NOT] A TREE: THE URBAN ECOLOGIES OF DIVIDED CITIES will be the subject of an international conference to be held in Pretoria, South Africa, in May 2022, with a selection of proceedings to be developed into a book publication. As questions, analyses, investigations, proposals and provocations, some of the sub-themes of the project are surmised below:

  • 1. Historical and contemporary processes

    The project aims to analyse processes of division and integration in historical and contemporary formations and conditions, to study causal issues as well as ways in which they continue to be produced and manifest.

  • 2. New grounds

    As a core output, the collaborative project aims to create awareness not only of the range of problems but also to enquire into possible approaches and solutions amongst designers, planners, developers, authorities, and communities. The fuller conception and comprehension of the nature of divisions in cities means that more effective principles and strategies can start to be formulated towards healing and transformation into liveable and loveable places, which are a ‘home’ to more integrated communities, cities and ultimately a more just and unified society. Thus, this sub-theme is interested in how to understand and lay grounds for the possibilities of a new commons and new social and physical formations, seeking ways to work meaningfully for societal advantage. In this regard, what are the different kinds of approaches, tools and possibilities that ought to be learned and explored, between different actors, knowledges and disciplines?

  • 3. Territories and taxonomies

    This sub-theme is interested in the ways in which ecologies of division shape spatialities, territories and geographies, between or within nations, groups, faiths, economic classes, and races. Where do the difficult questions and tensions lay and where do they manifest? Do they manifest into borders, walls, buffers and security? Are these tensions fragmented or are there sites of intensity? How were these spaces or lines socially or physically constructed, how are they policed, maintained, perpetuated or contested? This sub-theme is interested in the construction of spatialities and territory, the taxonomies of their architectures, as well their contestations.

  • 4. (Re)definitions

    If ‘place’ is neither exclusive to the building/object nor the space around it, but both are inclusive of human inhabitation, encompassing space for the individual and for society, then how the actors who shape the built environment define it is a fundamental component of human interactions and relationships. In divided and pathological societies especially, this suggests redefinitions and repurposing of what place/space could mean and could be. This sub-theme is interested in the (re)definitions of space as a first step in the making of ‘place’ and the forming of a sense of ‘home’.

  • 5. Questions of Agency

    Fuelled by systemic problems, the urban ecologies of divided cities appear as mutually constituted physical, psychological and social conditions. Often socio-spatial realities not only remain entrenched but also stamp readings upon identities and the urban psyche without even much notice or resistance. The dialectic and confluence of conditions also produces its own taxonomy – the naturalised architectures of enclaves, microstates, walls and barriers. The project is an inquiry into such intersecting systemic currents, but it is also an exploration of the imaginative and potentially creative possibilities which could begin to challenge either-or binaries, and offer the potential for creative space. As a collaborative and inter-disciplinary project, the project is also interested in the imaginative and multi-stranded confluence of memory, history, and social and political contexts, helping to construct new physical, social and symbolic ground on which to build.

Important Dates
Title Date
Abstract Submissions Deadline 30 Nov 2021
Last Notification for Abstract Acceptance 05 Feb 2022
Full Paper Submission Deadline 01 Mar 2022
Last Notification for Full-Paper Acceptance 06 May 2022
Early Payment Deadline 06 Apr 2022
Regular Payment Deadline 06 May 2022
Late Payment Deadline 05 Jun 2022
Letter of Visa (for delegates who need visa entry) 06 May 2022
Letter of Final Acceptance 06 May 2022
Conference Program 05 Jun 2022
Conference Launch 05 Jul 2022
Conference Committee

Alona Perez

Leicester School of Architecture, De Montfort University, UK.

Dr Alona Martinez Perez is a Senior Lecturer at the Leicester School of Architecture, De Montfort University with qualifications in both architecture and urban design. Originally from Bilbao, Spain, she trained as an architect in England and Scotland. She completed her PhD titled “The Architecture of the Periphery” at the University of Sheffield with a focus on the theory of the periphery in the European city, using a case study in Madrid. She won the PhD Conference bid for AHRA (Architecture and Humanities Research Association) at Plymouth University and has presented over 20 papers and conferences on peripheral issues.

Previous roles include Lecturer in Architecture at Plymouth University (2013-2017), Lecturer in Placemaking at the University of Ulster (2009-2013), tutor for architecture at the University of Dundee and Research Director at the Geddes Institute for the project of cities and regions (where she is currently a fellow).

 Dr Martinez Perez worked in practice for nearly a decade in both England and Scotland for both public and private sector clients on many prestigious projects in retail, health, education, hospitality and master planning and continues to work on smaller projects.

She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK and holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Architecture and Urban Design, a Master of Science in Urban Design from Edinburgh College of Art, and a degree in Architecture from Huddersfield University. She has been a visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg since July 2017 working on peripheral development and de-colonisation, a visiting Professor at the University of Trento and has taught as a visiting lecturer at Edinburgh University, University of Pescara and University Federico II LUPT.

She has written extensively at international level and has published in Domus, Urbanistica and the Journal of Urban Design.

She has presented at International conferences as a keynote speaker.

In 2011 she was awarded the Urbanistica Prize by the INU, the prestigious National Urban Institute (Italy) for two exhibitions and conferences with the project [email protected] 


Amira Osman

Professor of Architecture at the Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa.

SARChI Chair in Spatial Transformation, Chairperson Platform 100.

Amira Osman is a Sudanese/South African architect, researcher, academic, activist, public speaker, and author. She is now gaining experience in the world of publishing. She is a 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). Amira believes that the architectural profession has a critical role to play in the achievement of buildings, neighbourhoods and cities that are more equitable, beautiful and functional – creating environments that are lovable, increasing opportunities and 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 work – indeed, she has spent most of her career advocating for these principles. Amira obtained a PhD in Architecture from the University of Pretoria in 2004. She was a convener for the World Congress on Housing (2005) and the Sustainable Human(e) Settlements: the urban challenge (2012), 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), she was Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the 9th International Conference on Appropriate Technology (9th ICAT)(2020). She is a joint coordinator for the international CIB W104 Open Building Implementation network. Amira has extensive experience curating international events, coordinating complex programmes and exhibitions in terms of design, conceptualising content and managing diverse teams. 


Ciarán Mackel

Practice Principal in ARD Ciaran Mackel Architects, Belfast, UK.

Ciaran Mackel founded the design and research-oriented practice ARdMackel with a studio in Belfast and has a portfolio of residential, cultural, and community projects on a number of which he is currently collaborating with visual arts practitioners.  The practice has gained a number of design awards for its buildings.

He is also an Associate Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the Ulster University Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment and is currently teaching a vertical studio unit focussed on the Gaeltacht Quarter – a culture-led regeneration project in Belfast.  He has been visiting critic to ENSA School of Architecture in Nantes and to Plymouth University School of Architecture.

He is a regular contributor to architectural periodicals writing reviews, editorials and essays to generate discussion on architecture and urbanism.  He has also been architect – assessor on a number of architectural and building competitions. 

Ciaran was a founder board member of PLACE, developed in co-operation with Belfast City Council to provide a city-center venue as an Architecture and Built Environment Centre.  He was also a founder member of the Forum for Alternative Belfast.  Ciaran currently serves on the Boards of a number of organizations including, The Gaeltacht Quarter, and the Maze Long Kesh Development Corporation and he is also an architect advisor to the Ministerial Advisory Group of the Department for Communities. 


Carla Schmidt

Lecturer of Architecture Design at the Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa.

Carla Schmidt obtained her Master's degree in Architecture (Cum Laude) from the Tshwane University of Technology in 2018. Her master’s thesis was titled: The Design of an Education-Centred Mixed-Use Redevelopment in Central Pretoria.

It investigated a strategy for the regeneration of Wachthuis, an architectural landmark of Pretoria Architecture and a leading example of Pretoria Regionalism, within the context of reactivating and revitalizing the city and with the objective of creating social space contributing to fostering a sense of community.

 In 2015 she was awarded the Fuchs Prestige Prize in Architecture, a Dean’s List: BTech Scholarship in 2014, and a Tshwane University of Technology Post-Graduate Scholarship in both 2015 and 2016.

As Fuchs Prestige Prize in Architecture winner’s obligation, she presented at the AZA 2015 Student Architecture Festival.

 She was invited by the CAA to participate in the International Student Charrette and Masterclasses at RIBA’s 2017 International Week which explored the themes created through the New Urban Agenda, where she participated as part of the Historical City working group.

 Carla lectures at the Tshwane University of Technology in Architectural Design II and Archicad in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year programmes. She is Research Assistant to the SARChI: DST/NRF/SACN Research Chair in Spatial Transformation (Positive Change in the Built Environment).

 She is a registered Candidate Architect at the South African Council for the Architectural Profession and works with

M°NL° Studio and Schmidt Associates on a variety of projects. 


Tariq Toffa

Researcher, Educator, Architect, and Director of RE: think/design, South Africa.

He has worked in academia and professional practice, as well as in the NGO sector where he was manager and researcher for the South African chapter of the Dallant Networks / Ford Foundation project Urban Impact (, and manager and researcher for the Social Housing Focus Trust (SHiFT).

His research interests include the socio-spatial and discursive histories of colonialism-apartheid, urbanisms in contemporary African cities and, more broadly, critical thinking around modernity and decoloniality in space, education and society. 



Conference Fees


- Each research paper should have one main author who should pay the full fee (Author fees) regardless of attendance.

- Each co-author (1-5 max) has his/her own separate fees to pay as shown in the table below.

- A research paper fee allows only one author, whether main or co-author, to attend the conference and receive only one copy of the conference Abstract book in both hard and soft copies. Extras can be requested for a fee shown below.

Loyalty Membership Discounts

The more you attend, the more you're rewarded! 
IEREK offers its loyal participants the following discounts depending on his/her attendance: 












Conference Fees:  

The conference registration fee covers attendance, all conference materials, meals, coffee breaks, certificate of participation, conference kit, and social program.

Participation Fees


EUR 400


EUR 250

Attendance Fees (audience/ Co-author)

EUR 200

Non-attending co-author

EUR 50


Extra Fees

*Authors may request that their kits be delivered, for an additional fee decided by the courier, and upon request. Alternatively, authors located in Egypt can pick them up from Cairo/ Alexandria office.

Shipping Conference Abstract book and certificate

Depending on Location

Additional Conference Kit 

EUR 100


Authors' Instructions

Important Note:

IEREK has an unyielding policy regarding plagiarism. We believe that copying/taking the ideas and work of other Authors without permission and credit is fraudulent. The Reviewing committee and IEREK employees have the authority to reject a paper during its reviewing process, on the basis of the paper being subjected to either minor or major plagiarism.

Authors must refer to, and abide by, the following instructions in submitting their abstracts/ papers:

Step 1: Abstract Submission Process

- The author should prepare and submit an Abstract (250 300 words) through the website and before the abstract submission deadline.

- The abstract should clearly state the purpose, results, and conclusions of the work to be described in the final paper.

- The author should select the most relevant topic for the paper from the corresponding conference topics.

- The author can use/download an abstract writing template to submit the abstract file accordingly.

To download the Abstract Writing Template, Click Here

Step 2: Abstract Review

- Upon submission, an abstract will undergo a preliminary evaluation process by members of our scientific committee.

-A relevant topic of the conference should be proposed with clear writing, aims, and objectives of the study clearly presented and sound literature and methodology of the work.

- The author will receive a notification by email, within 2 weeks, of:

  • Approval, after which they will be requested to prepare and submit their full/short paper submissions.
  • Rejection, if the topic proposed does not fit the theme of the conference.

Step 3: Paper Submission & Preliminary Review

There are 2 types of paper submission at this conference:

  • Short Paper 
  • Full/Long Paper 

Short Paper:

- A short paper submission consists of 4–5 pages and suits researches that make significant contributions, but still in progress or can be reported briefly.

- The structure of a short paper should contain its abstract, keywords, introduction, problem statements, and the hypothetical solution along with further studies that they will go through when they want to extend their paper to be published online.

- A short paper is only included in the conference Abstracts book and will not have a chance to be published online by Springer or by IEREK’s Journals unless the author extends their work to a full-length paper and pay the corresponding fee.

Full-Length Paper:

- The Full/ Long paper submission is 8 – 12+ pages in length.

- The full paper should state the major issue(s) addressed, the potential significance of the work, the theoretical and methodological approach(es) pursued, major findings, conclusions, implications, and relevant scholarly references.

- A full/long paper will be included in the conference abstracts book as well as get published online by Springer or by IEREK PRESS Journals.

- The author should submit the full/short paper written on the writing template, through our online system before the paper submission deadline.

- The full/short paper should be written in English as it's the official language of the conference.

Step 4: Similarity Check/ Plagiarism Detection

All Chapters will be screened for similarity using iThenticate; a Turnitin Plagiarism detection software, used for academic publishers. Springer Similarity guidelines are as follows:

  • Max. % from all sources: 10-15%
  • Max. % from one source: 3-5%
  • Higher than 30% (all sources): Reject completely
  • Lower than 30% (all sources): Ask for revision to decrease the similarities  

To download Paper Writing Template,   Click Here

Step 5: Payment Completion & Confirmation

Once Preliminary approval for presentation at the conference and/or consideration for publication is granted, authors will be expected to complete payment in reference to the Conference Fees.

In this phase of revision, the research paper will be evaluated based on its originality, structure, and relativity to the conference theme. If the paper gets acceptance by one reviewer, a paper preliminary acceptance notification will be sent to the author accordingly.

- As soon as payment is confirmed and done successfully, corresponding official documents can be issued from our end such as:

  • A signed/stamped preliminary acceptance letter
  • Receipt of Payment
  • Visa Invitation Letter

Step 6: Rigorous Peer Review Process (Full-length papers only)

Only after payment is confirmed,

- and the full paper submission deadline is reached, a submitted full-length paper is assigned to an Editor from the Editorial Board, in alignment with IEREK’s revision SOP (double-blind process).

- Each paper/ chapter is evaluated by a minimum of two reviewers, after which a final decision by the responsible Editor is made. There is no maximum to the number of times a paper can be reviewed, depending on the quality of the submission.

- Once a decision is made by the Editors, IEREK Editors will communicate one of the following three final decisions:

  • Accepted without comments
  • Revise and Resubmit – Minor or Major revision
  • Final Rejection

- If modifications are in order, authors will be sent the relevant instructions and a deadline will be set. Missed deadlines may result in complete exclusion from the final publication/ final rejection.

- A back and forth process, modifications will be sent back to the responsible Editor/ Series Editor and another round of evaluation conducted.

Asti By Springer

Publishing in ASTI by Springer (Scopus indexed)                  

After the conference, the submitted manuscripts of authors interested in publishing in the ASTI book series will undergo a rigorous peer review process resulting in a final decision made by the editors. Only accepted research will be published as a chapter in the Book Series entitled “Advances in Science, Technology and Innovation” (ASTI) by Springer. The ASTI Book Series is by managed highly professional members of an International Editorial Board to ensure high-quality material for online publication.

The ASTI Book Series is fully indexed in Scopus. Some titles have been successfully indexed or submitted for indexation in Web of Science (ISI).

About the ASTI series

Advances in Science, Technology & Innovation (ASTI) is a series of peer-reviewed books based on important emerging research that redefines the current disciplinary boundaries in science, technology and innovation (STI) in order to develop integrated concepts for sustainable development. It not only discusses the progress made towards securing more resources, allocating smarter solutions, and rebalancing the relationship between nature and people, but also provides in-depth insights from comprehensive research that addresses the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) as set out by the UN for 2030.

The series draws on the best research papers from various IEREK and other international conferences to promote the creation and development of viable solutions for a sustainable future and a positive societal transformation with the help of integrated and innovative science-based approaches. Including interdisciplinary contributions, it presents innovative approaches and highlights how they can best support both economic and sustainable development, through better use of data, more effective institutions, and global, local and individual action, for the welfare of all societies.

The series particularly features conceptual and empirical contributions from various interrelated fields of science, technology and innovation, with an emphasis on digital transformation, that focus on providing practical solutions to ensure food, water and energy security to achieve the SDGs. It also presents new case studies offering concrete examples of how to resolve sustainable urbanization and environmental issues in different regions of the world.

The series is intended for professionals in research and teaching, consultancies and industry, and government and international organizations. Published in collaboration with IEREK, the Springer ASTI series will acquaint readers with essential new studies in STI for sustainable development.

About Springer:

Springer is a leading global scientific, technical and medical portfolio, providing researchers in academia, scientific institutions and corporate R&D departments with quality content through innovative information, products and services. Springer has one of the strongest STM and HSS eBook collections and archives, as well as a comprehensive range of hybrid and open access journals. Springer is part of Springer Nature, a global publisher that serves and supports the research community. Springer Nature aims to advance discovery by publishing robust and insightful science, supporting the development of new areas of research and making ideas and knowledge accessible around the world. As part of Springer Nature, Springer sits alongside other trusted brands like Nature Research, BioMed Central, and Palgrave Macmillan.

Click on the below image to learn more about the editors

Conference Venue

Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

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2. Internationally Accredited Certificate: The participants are granted internationally recognized certificates acknowledged by IEREK, the University, and Partnering Organizations.

3. Publication: Selected high-quality manuscripts will be published, after peer review, in the Advances in Science, Technology & Innovation (ASTI) book series by Springer or by IEREK Press Journals, both of which are indexed in world-renowned databases.

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Visa Application

- For participants who need Entry Visas to the country where the conference will be held, IEREK will issue the corresponding invitation letter for accepted applicants to facilitate visa issuance.

- Please note that we will endeavor to assist you in obtaining a visa but the responsibility is yours and the decision rests solely with the appropriate Embassy.

Invitation Letter Issuance Process

1- In case the participant is an author who has submitted a research paper to the conference, it must get accepted by the Scientific Committee

2- Required participation fees must be paid

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* A clear copy of passport

* Passport number

* Full name as written in your passport.

* Date of Issuing and Expiration

* Date of Birth

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* Mobile Number including country code

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Refund Policy

- Delegates in any event who cancel their registration due to special circumstances for any reason will receive refunds according to the following plan and according to the number of days from the start of the event:

Cancellation Policy Up to 60 days before the event Up to 50 days before the event Up to 40 days before the event 39 days before the event
Penalty 20% 50% 70% 100%

A refund is not possible if

- An acceptance letter has been issued (Authors only)

- The proceedings of the event have been published (Authors only)

- All matters have been finalized (accommodation/travel expenses paid for)

Documents to be issued by IEREK to acquire a visa are as follows:

* Final Acceptance Letter (Authors only)

* Invoice/proof of payment

We encourage all authors and attendees to ensure their having acquired all documents (those applicable) mentioned.

* Authors: may choose to let their co-author present his/her research on his/her behalf free of charge.