CSIR Built Environment

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) uses science, engineering and technology to contribute to the development and maintenance of South Africa’s built environment, including economic infrastructure, social infrastructure and the transformation of human settlements. The organisation’s main focus areas are the development of spatial planning technologies for the planning of cities, towns and regions; improving the efficiency of buildings and developing new building materials and construction methodologies; developing design methods and maintenance procedures for road, port and railway infrastructure; developing design methods for water infrastructure and developing models and methods for more efficient public and freight transport and smart infrastructure.

Urban growth simulation

The CSIR has developed an urban growth simulation platform that assists national and local government, cities and other stakeholders with urban planning strategies.

Defining a public transport network for Gauteng province

The CSIR, in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, has used various data fusion techniques to define a strategic public transport network. The network is being used to facilitate the design of proposed new subsidised bus contracts.

Climate mapping tool for building design

The CSIR has developed a tool for the assessment of climatic conditions during the design of major buildings. This tool utilises 10 years of historic data modified to a 5x5 km resolution, to predict the climate conditions for the next 10 years. This data provides vital input into the design of buildings for improved performance.

High modulus asphalt

Over the past couple of years, the CSIR has designed and developed a new structural and materials design methodology for high modulus asphalt. The technology can either extend the life of a road pavement by 10 years or reduce the material cost by 30%, if the road is designed for the usual 20-year design life.

Spatial and temporal evidence for planning in South Africa

A CSIR-led initiative is working with municipalities and policy-makers to research and disseminate research on population movement, trends and the possible implications thereof for service delivery, housing and investment infrastructure. In modelling the spatial implications of urban growth, valuable input is being provided to decision-makers.

Road asset management systems

The CSIR is assisting the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, as well as the Roads Agency Limpopo to update inventory data and condition data for roads and bridges and update software applications that are used to store and analyse the data. This is in line with National Treasury requirements.

Infection prevention and control

In collaboration with the South African Department of Health, US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, non-governmental organisations and academia, the CSIR has contributed to a better understanding of the transmission dynamics of diseases such as tuberculosis. The CSIR has developed an infection control risk assessment tool that has been extensively field tested at health and correctional service facilities. The CSIR has also developed norms and standards for hospital design, construction and maintenance.

Safe water

The CSIR, in partnership with the University of Stellenbosch, is developing, introducing and applying a new, autonomous, low-cost, easy-to-handle solar-powered water purification system solution for the decentralised water treatment and supply of safe water in the rural and peri-urban areas of southern African countries. The technology is based on the degradation of harmful chemical and microbiological contaminants by strong oxidants, produced electrochemically from the water molecules in the water sources to be treated.

More information for download.

General Contact

Contact Person

Chris Rust


Contact Person

Mzi Gcukumana

+27 (0) 12 841 3525

Competence Areas

Hydraulic infrastructure engineering

Developing, applying and disseminating new knowledge on ports infrastructure design, operation and maintenance, as well as water and wastewater infrastructure.    

Spatial planning and systems

Integrated planning, decision-support systems, urban and regional planning and human settlement design.

Transport infrastructure engineering

Innovative engineering solutions for the design, construction, maintenance and management of transport infrastructure assets.

Transport systems and operations

Transport asset management systems, public transport systems design, road safety and freight logistics operations management.

Building science and technology

Developing innovative and smart construction materials, technologies, methods and processes for better performing buildings and the construction industry.