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About us
Our story

After completing a Master’s in Architecture, followed by a Master’s in Urban Infrastructure Design and Management, and 12 years in the private sector as an urban designer, Shannon Royden-Turner became increasingly aware of the lack of creativity applied to the design and imaginings of our future cities, especially infrastructure futures. Her study of systems thinking and urban metabolism lead her onwards to the study of biomimicry. At its deepest level, it is the study of life itself, and how we can create conditions within our human systems that are conducive to more life. Biomimicry is the science that studies nature’s designs and translates them into design solutions for our challenges. Her dream is to create future cities that give you the same feeling as when you walk into a forest, a feeling of harmony and beauty.

Shannon was inspired to share this understanding and created informal south to assist governments, developers, professionals and citizens to increase their capacity and understanding, to enable a creative potential for the future cities, one that is abundant and flourishing, just as nature is. In doing this, she came to realise that by far the biggest leverage for system change was that of the human mind, and our perception of the world around us. Continuing her insatiable quest to understand the nature of reality, she has spent the past four years studying human behaviour with the world-renowned educator, Dr John Demartini. She applies all that she learns to the development and facilitation of a methodology for CREATING AN INSPIRING FUTURE WORLD by unlocking the genius and creativity of people responsible for solving complex challenges. Since her work continues to expand beyond the initial conceptualisation of formal and informal relationships in the city, she renamed the company in 2016 from informal south to Actuality.

We have had the privilege of working with many inspiring leaders to develop innovative visions for the future. We have worked with Tongaat Hullet Developers, Dube Trade Port and eThekweni Municipality to create a Resilience Framework towards win-win solutions to stormwater, land-use and ecological infrastructure for the Northern Spatial Area eThekwini, overcoming an age-old conflict between development and ecology. We have worked with the Nigerian Presidency to design a conceptual future for a city district in Abuja in celebration of their 100 centenary celebrations. Shannon travelled to Haiti to advise the President on urban renewal opportunities, and works with the Western Cape Premier in the Genius of Space project focused on the development of innovative solutions to waste water, stormwater and solid waste in Langrug informal settlement. We represents the Dutch NGO Cordaid, building multi-stakeholder collaborations between Philippi domestic violence service providers to develop a model for civic engagement and a domestic violence strategy; and between taxi operators, City of Cape Town TCT and traders to develop a future vision and management strategy for the roll out of MyCiti public transport in Nyanga and Khayelitsha. In Uganda, we facilitated The Collaboration Game, a serious gaming tool to enable collaboration within the newly formed Water Catchment Management Organisations for the implementation of an Integrated Water Resource Catchment Management Strategy for two catchments. We also partner with Play the City, a Dutch company specializing in urban serious gaming, bringing this innovative method of planning to the development of the Khayelitsha CBD. In addition to our Visionary Futures Training, we are currently setting up a program to clean all rivers in South Africa and developing a movie that creates an inspiring systems vision for the future of cities.

Our Name
Actuality
/ aktjΩ’aliti,-t∫Ω-
noun
the state of existing in reality / existing conditions or facts / the quality of state of being actual / actual conditions or facts
Actuality is about realising and identifying the truth (the actual situation), before beliefs and interpretations get in the way. Our human approach to projects allows us to dissolve conflicts and emotions in order to get to the point of actuality.

Aristotle understood actuality to be motion, change or activity that is driven by a purpose. He did not see things as matter in motion only, but also proposed that things have their own aims or purpose. For us, this is about doing work that is strongly driven by purpose, our thelos.
Meet the team
Actuality draws on a strong network of urban professionals who we work with on our projects. As part of the biomimicrySA network we also work with a variety of professionals who share our values and transformational future vision.

Our core team is made up of:
SHANNON ROYDEN-TURNER
Visionary Urban Strategist
Systems Intervention Designer, Architect, Urban Infrastructure Design & Management, Biomimicry Practitioner, Demartini Facilitator.
Shannon holds a Masters in Urban Infrastructure Design and Management from the University of Cape Town, is a Certified Demartini Method® Facilitator through the Demartini Institute, a qualified Biomimicry Practitioner through biomimicrySA, has 10 years of experience as an Urban Design Practitioner and holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of KwaZulu Natal.

Shannon works as a speaker, educator and adviser to urban leaders, transforming the urban planning process to enable the adoption and scaling of regenerative innovation. Her life’s work focuses on shifting our paradigm from a world filled with problems, to one where inspired and purposeful leaders can see that every problem is simultaneously solved when we broaden our perspective. She brings together global innovators with urban leaders to solve complex challenges at a systems level, by facilitating and educating multi-stakeholder collaborations to craft future visions and strategies, while developing the appropriate governance structures to actualise successful systems level transformation.

“I believe that every problem is simultaneously and synchronously solved, and am dedicated to building inspired leaders and high performance teams dedicated to this new paradigm.”
NICOLA ROWE
Project Development & Marketing
Nicola has a BSocSci in Psychology & Organisational Psychology from the University of Cape Town and 10 years of marketing and business development experience.

Transferring her interest from people and their integral contribution to successful organisations to the plasticine duo, Wallace & Gromit, Nicola started her career in the UK for the world renowned Animation Studio, Aardman Animations. Caring for Aardman’s well-established brands as well as launching Shaun the Sheep to audiences across the globe, she experienced the global impact of media. From Aardman she moved to London to work for Sony Pictures Television, focusing on shows such as Breaking Bad and learning about multinational organisations. Nicola returned to Cape Town in 2010 and joined the young, entrepreneurial studio, Sunrise Productions. Using her international experience, she worked with a passionate team to help grow the studio from 10 to over 50 staff, launched an animated sports mascot franchise in South Africa, the UK and Italy and spread Sunrise’s inaugural brand, Jungle Beat, to audiences across 185 countries. In 2015 Nicola turned her attention to biomimicry and the impact that learning from nature’s genius can have on creating an abundant and thriving world. Realising the massive influence of the future of the urban environment and feeling inspired working alongside colleagues with great ambitions, Nicola is now working on developing the aim of Actuality – to Transform Urban Futures.