Professor Noëleen Murray joined Wits in March 2015 to take up the position as the first Director of the Wits City Institute and the A.W. Mellon Foundation Chair of Critical Architecture and Urbanism. The Institute is funded by the A.W. Mellon Foundation, and Wits University is the only institution outside of the UK and the US to receive this prestigious award in the Foundation’s Humanities Architecture and Urbanism grant category.
Murray is initiating a multidisciplinary research programme on the city, both in local and in broader comparative terms with a focus on the history and practice of architecture, critical spatial practice and urbanism in the city, creating strong linkages between humanities and architecture and involving creative scholars in relevant disciplines.
Born and bred in Johannesburg, Murray is an architect and academic with 20 years’ experience. Through her research, writing and creative work Murray considers spaces as diverse as the migrant labour compound, the suburban shopping centre, housing developments and the shaping of the university and city relationships. Amongst her key projects are: working as a regional researcher with the blank_ Architecture, apartheid and after project in 1997; she was the principal editor for the Routledge book Desire Lines – Space, Memory and Identity in the Post-Apartheid City which appeared in 2007; she was co-curator for the GIPCA/UCT exhibition Third Worlds / Model Cities; as well as being co-editor of the book Becoming UWC (2012), Reflections, pathways and the unmaking of apartheid’s legacy produced during her time as a Centre for Humanities Research Fellow.