STEERING AFRICA'S FUTURE CITIES
Elective Leader: Patricia Theron
Cities are the concentrations of the best thoughts and ideas, of all that is intuitive to humanity and innovative through its technologies. There are multiple ways that global cities can be understood and many mechanisms for analysis. To bring any city into thinkability it is only fair to approach an understanding objectively and with rigour, in this regard there are a number of tools useful for comparative assessment. For students of architecture interested in engaging with new forms emerging in our urban landscapes, the focus would naturally be on the spatial development of African cities. But just as any architect should have a knowledge of structures, so any spatial designer who wishes to gain traction in the urban must have an awareness of economic, political, social and cultural dynamics which inform every interaction occurring in a global interconnected network. The representations of a city’s information exist within a landscape of data which is perhaps more familiar to students of business and economics, who easily navigate this complexity through the tools at their disposal. Techniques such as benchmarking, indicator analysis, and also terms such creative capitals, knowledge economies and smart cities will become the new means of designing future cities with the capacity to promote equitable growth and offer sectors attractive to the African youth population. We must also look beyond the merely comparative, where African cities given their historic undermining by colonial powers have often appeared in an unfavourable light. The challenge of Africa’s future as it will exist through its cities, calls on all our powers of innovation, where we must study example and precedent but also ultimately realise that solutions lie within the unique, the case-specific and the local in which organisation is implicit and often self-structured or emergent. This course will present a series of concepts and practical methods for assessing current positions of cities on their trajectories. These observations will result in the identification of opportunities for design as we are all in the position, within the spatial planning disciplines, of projecting, designing and responding to the visions and critical power that African cities have for and over their own futures.