profile picture base.jpg

khanya tshabalala


healing historical narratives: brokering therapeutic resources for alternative healing practices


langa, cape town

encounters, third space, in-between, syncretic expression


This dissertation explores architecture’s relationship with healing and hybridity as a framework to explore ways in which this indigenous practice of traditional healing, can find place, in our modern urban environment.

The concept of healing in architecture has largely been explored in the making of primary health institutions. South Africa - as with most areas throughout the continent - primarily rely on two different forms of ‘medical’ healing.

One is deeply rooted in scientific knowledge systems, whilst the other is based on indigenous knowledge systems. With nearly 80% of the population’s reliance on traditional healing as an alternative form of health care, an architecture that engages with the concepts of healing through this lens has rarely been acknowledged or widely investigated.

Despite the rise in rural to urban migration, the practice of traditional healing has continued to insert itself amongst various communities scattered across our urban and peri-urban landscapes. South Africa has responded with the introduction of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act 22 of 2007.

Whilst this research does not attempt to solve the lack of access to sacred sites, which are now either privately owned or under conservation protection. It undertakes investigations at various scales of consideration to negotiate encounters between the environments for traditional healing and its relationship with modern urbanity. The scales include: program, environment, making, and a new healthcare typology.

Situated along Langa’s stormwater canal, the dissertation engages with water technologies that mediate the relations between needs of the modern environment and indigenous practices. These technologies also serve to rehabilitate the natural environment in which both can exist without being displaced in the dialogue of post-apartheid spatialities.


narrated presentation


visual presentation

(please allow some time to load)

dissertation document