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Minna Sunikka Blank      



Principal Investigator: Dr Minna Sunikka-Blank, University of Cambridge

Dr Minna Sunikka-Blank is a Senior University Lecturer at the Department of Architecture in Cambridge. She is interested in energy transitions: the adoption of new technologies, how they transform practices and occupant behaviour. Dr Sunikka-Blank co-leads the Behaviour and Building Performance (BBP) research group and Global Energy Nexus in Urban Settlements (GENUS) research network. She has worked on environmental impact assessment in Finland and the Netherlands and held a visiting position at Keio University in Japan. Her current research looks at energy infrastructure and gendered household practices in the context of slum rehabilitation in India. Dr Sunikka-Blank is a Director of Studies and Fellow in Architecture at Churchill College in Cambridge






Ronita Bardhan

Co-Investigator: Dr Ronita Bardhan, University of Cambridge

Dr Ronita Bardhan is University Lecturer of Sustainable Built Environment at the Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, UK and leads the Sustainable Design Group. She holds visiting position at Stanford University and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.  She works on the niche sector of habitat design, energy decisions and gender equality for low-income housing in Global South, especially in the slum rehabilitation housing of Mumbai. Her tractable research informs demand-side design solutions which positively affects energy security, gender equality and well-being while entailing fewer environmental risks. Dr Bardhan is a Director of Studies and Fellow in Architecture at Selwyn College in Cambridge.



Research Partners:



adi  kumar

Adi Kumar, Development Action Group

Aditya Kumar is Executive Director of Development Action Group (DAG), based in South Africa. Adi has extensive experience in the development sector having worked across the globe in India, South Africa, Lebanon, United States, Kenya and Uganda.  Previously he worked as Head of Design and Planning for Nahr El Bared Palestinian Camp Reconstruction Project with the United Nations, Lebanon (UNRWA) and is shortlisted for the 2013 cycle of Aga Khan Award for Architecture. He was also Project Manager for Earthquake Rehabilitation Projects with Caritas India in Gujarat, India and worked extensively on planning projects in Boston and Los Angeles in the private and non-profit sector. Over the last eighteen years, Adi has become a specialist in post disaster & post conflict reconstruction; housing & land rights; and informal settlement upgrading. His work has fostered multi-stakeholder partnerships between local communities, CBO’s, government bodies, academic institutions and International NGO’s, with a key focus on strengthening community participation and activism.








Lorenzo Johnson


Lorenzo Johnson, Development Action Group

Lorenzo is the Project Support Officer with over 3 years of experience working in the improvement district industry.  Lorenzo enjoys working for DAG because the organisation is passionate about supporting the marginalised communities. He enjoys his role at DAG because it gives him the opportunity to do what he is passionate about and that is working in the inner city and disadvantaged communities.








Conrad Meyer


Conrad Meyer, Development Action Group

Conrad is the Project Officer at DAG. He is a Political Science and Economics professional with a strong interest in political economy. He started working at DAG as an intern before he became the Project Officer. Conrad says he enjoys working at DAG because the organisation has a knack for working strategically in the societal crevices where politics, economics and civil society collide in order to facilitate creative solutions to SA’s developmental challenges.








Helen Rourke




Helen Rourke, Development Action Group

Helen is the Programme Manager. She holds a partially completed MPhil in Urban Infrastructure Design and Management, UCT as well as Diploma in Urban Land Management and Informal Settlement Regularisation, Erasmus University Rotterdam. Helen has over fifteen years of experience in the urban development sector with a focus on informal settlements, urban land markets, regeneration, low-income housing, citizen mobilisation and partnership building and local government. Helen has extensive expertise in informal settlement upgrading, including the coordination of the NUSP socio-technical assistance to the City of Cape Town for 32 informal settlements and pioneered the Hangberg Insitu upgrade in 2008.








Ravikant Singh


Dr Ravikant Singh, Doctors For You

Dr Singh is a public health professional with special interest in Climate Change Action & Cancer Epidemiology of South Asia. He founded Doctors For You (DFY) in 2007. DFY is one of the leading medical humanitarian organisations in India. Dr Singh works extensively on improving maternal child health, disaster relief response and cancer prevention with leading UN and Government agencies. Improving access to clean energy and attending SDG7 by low and middle income countries is priority for him. DFY received “Best Medical Team in Crisis Zone, 2011” Award by the BMJ, UK. Dr Singh is the SAARC Youth awardee for “Outstanding work done in the aftermath of natural disaster”. 



Dr Jacob Arikupuram, Doctors For You




Dr Vaishali Venu, Doctors For You




Nomzamo Mlungu

Nomzamo Mlungu, The City of Cape Town

Nomzamo Mlungu is the Head of Social Housing and Land Restitution at the City of Cape Town. She is a qualified Quantity Surveyor and holds an MBA degree from the UCT Graduate School of Business. She has eighteen years of experience in the construction industry and has had the fortune of being exposed to diverse environments within the industry. She has acquired expertise through working for Quantity Surveying consulting firms, the housing sector, a commercial bank and a property developer in South Africa. She is constantly seeking opportunities to contribute to the gaps that exist within the construction industry particularly in the area of housing delivery.






Eddy Gail, The City of Cape Town





JACOB MOTANYA, Managing Director, Miradi Architects

Jacob is the founder owner and managing director of Miradi Architects. He is a registered professional architect in South Africa and an entrepreneur with over twenty years’ industry experience. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Jomo Kenyatta University, Kenya (1997) and is currently undertaking an MBA degree at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University, New York, USA. 

Jacob is also the Chairman of Project Network South Africa, an NGO involved with improving conditions in informal settlements and assisting individuals access affordable housing in South Africa. He has worked in South Africa, Kenya, Canada and the USA in a career spanning over 20 years. He is also involved in various capacities in other businesses in Africa in mining and technology sectors.



 KENNETH ROMAN, Social Development Manager (Pickwick Transitional Housing Facility)

Kenneth is the Social Development Manager at Pickwick Transitional Housing Facility. He is an experienced social service professional who has extensive administration skills in the private and public sector; with a hands-on understanding and knowledge of the homeless sector.  He has over 10 years’ experience in the social sector and extensive knowledge of the unique dynamics of homelessness in the City of Cape Town. He is a registered professional with the South African Council for Social Service Professionals. He is also a trained paralegal which gives him detailed knowledge and experience of South African law that is a vital part of everyday operations in engaging with the residents at Pickwick and their unique and complex socio- economic needs.


CANDICE WILLIAMS, Administrator (Pickwick Transitional Housing Facility)

Candice is an experienced administrator and is currently the facility admin at Pickwick Transitional Housing Facility. She has extensive experience in various roles at the City of Cape Town where she worked prior to joining Miradi. She has a unique understanding of the dynamic needs of residents at Pickwick and handles many roles including management support, administration, staff oversight, residents’ welfare, women issues, book- keeping and incident reporting.

She is a good communicator and assists the social worker in case management and staff and tenant oversight.


Priti Mohandas, University of Cambridge

Priti is currently a candidate for the MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Cambridge, undertaking research on informal settlement rehabilitation, gender and energy in Cape Town, South Africa whilst also working towards obtaining the RIBA Part II professional qualification in architectural practice.






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