Archives for category: new city

A great blog post on Nigeria’s plans to build a new centennial “smart” city (more of a district) for 100k people in its capital Abuja (itself a planned city that was built in the 1980s). While praising the socially and environmentally conscious planning approach that promises “a mature vibrant ecosystem,” the piece reminds us that new cities in developing countries are almost always reliant on fickle market driven investors hoping to reap huge economic playoffs from these “green and sustainable” international business hubs by quite simply plundering its countryside. These ambitious, environmentally conscious, new city projects are in themselves fantastic examples of planning and social responsibility, but as the post points out, at some point we have to take a step back and question whether our capitalist economy and its byproduct of violent ecological damage are themselves sustainable, and how do we plan and build a better version?

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Billing itself as a kind of anti-megacity that have been the focus of urban studies in the developing world, the Anam New City project is creating a new “rurban” (mixed rural and urban) area in east-central Nigeria for approx. 30k people to live in. Funded by the Chife Foundation, the aim is to create a model for sustainable development that mixes agriculture and pastoral space and lifestyle with dense community living (and the service delivery that is possible with it) in a clustered, mixed use master plan. I’m very curious to follow this project as people move in. Unlike past African city plans, this one seems to have a better appreciation for the “rurbanism” that eventually works its way into nearly all African cities–I read somewhere that the cows in Nairobi produce some massive quantity (in the 1000s of pounds) of dung a day. Of course this is a project funded by an wealthy NGO and unlikely to be reproducible across the continent where a more likely widespread approach is the privately funded planned cities to cater to international economic development. Still it seems like the NGO is going to eventually upload a manual onto their website that shares information on how to build similar cities. Master planning isn’t nonexistent even in places considered the epitome of “adaptive self-organization” such as Lagos where the current mayor Babatunde Fashola is building planned urban housing projects for the city. It would be interesting to see the effect of aspects of Anam New City incorporated into a kind of “nodal development” of a megacity, creating hubs of pre-planned order with services and uncongested transportation. Here’s a link to the Anam City blog.

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It looks like Zimbabwe’s plan to build a kind of Epcot of Africa might finally break ground in the foreseeable future. The plan would create a $200 million theme park/city minutes from Victoria Falls. It sounds like one idea for it would be like Epcot or a world fair of Africa, displaying food, art, and buildings from all over the continent. Zimbabwe’s government says it would cater to Africans themselves as a low-budget vacation destination, citing the exorbitant costs for Africans to visit “African” tourist destinations such as Victoria Falls as the motive to creating this cheaper alternative. Which makes this response in the Telegraph citing “African tourism experts” amusing for condemning the project as ruining “authentic Africa” and not something European tourists want to visit. Not that there aren’t concerns about this scale of a project being constructed so close to Victoria Falls, but the assumption that the park’s target audience is foreign tourists says a lot.

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Part II of Brett Petzer’s article on 10 African future cities. Below is an image of Angola’s Cidade de Kilamba, a Chinese funded middle class housing project 30km from Luanda for 200k people, currently sitting mostly empty as potential buyers struggle to obtain financing.

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When the old isn’t working or is just too cumbersome to overhaul….simply build a brand new city from scratch! At least that’s what these projects intend to do. Most of these future cities are in the initial/early periods of funding/construction but they will be fascinating to follow as they begin opening for business. They’re all located next to some of the continent’s largest decaying/overcrowded urban areas–what will become of those when these glitzy new international business orientated centers are fully functional? I can imagine a mass rush of people pouring towards the promises of these new cities (if only as day commuters since they’ll likely be exorbitantly expensive places to live like Victoria Island in Lagos in currently), abandoning the rusting infrastructure and informally organized cities just miles away. Will there be an influx control mechanism built into these new centers? A passcard system? We know how well planned capitals like Dodoma and Abuja have played out in Africa; will an urban area backed by international corporate investment lead to different results? Part two coming soon.  Eko Atlantic project constructed on man-made sandbar in the harbor of Lagos:

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Nyere’s utopian capital that was never fully realized

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Would this work in Lagos? Is that question a luxury for marginal residents of Lagos?

Image source (Photograph:  Kunlé Adeyemi)