Know the City

The City was founded by Zahira Asmal in February 2010. Working out of Cape Town, South Africa, The City celebrates diversity and debate on a cross-continental scale. The City investigates and disseminates the dynamic cultural, social and economic changes shaping our contemporary urban consciousness. Through publications, curated experiences and strategic connections, we deliver messages to targeted communities in the private, public and civic sectors. Harnessing a global network of visionary designers, thinkers and communicators, we develop innovative solutions to social, cultural and spatial challenges. Our work is amorphous, curious, and celebrates multiplicity. We are motivated by the belief that imagination is the key to a shared future.

The City is a space for all.

Through singular publications The City delivers messages to targeted global communities that span the private, public and civic realms.

Stories come to life in The City’s interactive experiences that can be accessed through exhibitions, tours, academic studios and events.

The City brokers strategic connections to activate targeted media campaigns, professional profiles and international relations.


Zahira Asmal is the founder and managing director of The City and socio-spatial enterprise, Designing South Africa. As an editor, curator and publisher, her projects address design, democracy and inclusive city making. In doing so she has worked with governments, designers, architects, academics and the media globally. Her first book, Reflections & Opportunities, was published in English & Brazilian Portuguese and was presented in 17 cities in Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, the UK, Germany and Italy. Asmal was selected to represent South Africa at the International Architecture & Design Showcase in London where she curated an exhibition, A Nation Under Construction. Asmal has recently published three publications titled Movement on the social, spatial, political, economic and cultural movements that have created South Africa’s big cities. Asmal is an initiator and facilitator of urban development projects involving governments, artists, architects, the public as well as local and international cultural institutions. Having worked with renowned architect David Adjaye OBE on his book, African Metropolitan Architecture, and exhibition, Urban Africa, the pair are once again working together – this time on a place making project at Johannesburg’s prominent Park Station.


Editor, Movement Cape Town (THE CITY, 2015)
Editor, Movement Johannesburg (THE CITY, 2015)
Editor, Reflections & Opportunities (THE CITY, 2012)
Researcher, Adjaye Africa Architecture (Thames & Hudson, 2011)


Curator, A Nation Under Construction – International Architecture & Design Showcase (London, UK)
Researcher, Urban Africa by David Adjaye – Design Museum (London, UK)
Research & Development, Monoforms by David Adjaye – Design Museum (London, UK)
Research & Development, Europolis by David Adjaye – Manifesta7 (Bolzano, Italy)

Guest Lectures & Workshops

Willem de Kooning Academy Masters Design Class, Rotterdam, The Netherlands – 2016
International Architecture Biennale, Rotterdam, The Netherlands – 2016
Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands – 2016
University of Cape Town, School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics – 2015
UNIT Aracaju, Brazil – 2014
Wits Institute for Social & Economic Research, Johannesburg, South Africa – 2014
Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein, South Africa – 2014
University of Cape Town, Business Science Honours & Postgraduate Marketing – 2013
British Council’s International Connections Programme at the London Design Festival, London, UK – 2013
University of Westminster, Namibia and South Africa: Post Colonial legacies, London, UK – 2012
University of Westminster, Expanded Territories colloquium, London, UK – 2012
University of Cordoba, Faculty of Architecture, Urbanism and Design, Argentina – 2012
University of Buenos Aires, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism, Argentina – 2012
University of Witwatersrand, Infrastructure of Social Spaces, Johannesburg, South Africa – 2012
University of Witwatersrand, Sports & Mega events, Johannesburg, South Africa – 2012
ESPM São Paulo, Brazil – 2012
ESPM Sul Porto Alegre, Brazil – 2012
Studio X Columbia University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 2012
Fundaçao Getulio Vargas, São Paulo, Brazil – 2012
International Travel Show, Berlin, Germany – 2011
Vega School of Design, Johannesburg, South Africa – 2011
University of Witwatersrand, Robbrecht en Daem workshop, Johannesburg, South Africa – 2011
Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Johannesburg, South Africa – 2010
South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, London, UK – 2010


The Future of Public Space: African Cities & Public Space – 2016 – Cape Town, South Africa
Architecture ZA 2015 – Johannesburg, South Africa
XXV International Union of Architects World Congress 2014 – Durban, South Africa
TEDxBelohorizonte 2014, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship 2013 – Cape Town, South Africa
Women Inspiration & Enterprise Conference 2013 – Cape Town, South Africa
Open Design 2013 – Cape Town, South Africa
Pecha Kucha 2011 & 2013 – Cape Town, South Africa
Design Dialogues 2013 – Cape Town, South Africa
Creative Cape Town 2011 – Cape Town, South Africa
Design Indaba Expo 2011 – Cape Town, South Africa
EKasi Entrepreneur 2013 – Khayelitsha, South Africa
Think Fest – National Arts Festival 2013 – Grahamstown, South Africa
Football & Architecture, FestArch 2011– Perugia, Italy
Geopolitics of the new world, FestArch 2011 – Perugia, Italy
Brazil Trade Mission (Department of Trade & Industry) 2011 – Johannesburg, South Africa
Soccerex 2011 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Architecture ZA 2010 – Johannesburg, South Africa


Diary, Architectural Review
Arrival City, Icon Magazine
A Point of Departure, Visi
Chance Encounter, Financial Mail Travel
The Potency of Grace, Aerodrome
A Fresh Identity, Financial Mail
Inspired, Design Week
Less can be better, Design Indaba
Conciencia Creativa, Pasages Diseño
Design lights up, Lino
African Abstraction, Elle Decoration


Concurso Internacional Universitario Habitat (2016)
Southern Guild Design Foundation Awards (2015)
Des Baker Awards (2015)
Wallpaper* Urban Hotel Awards (2014)